Edgefield County, SC

County Name: 
Edgefield
State: 
South Carolina

Total population (1850): 39,262

Enslaved population (1850): 22,725

Percent slave: 58%

Extant nineteenth-century inquests: 524

Date range: 1829-1899

Percentage of violent crimes in county sample: 39% (202/524)

The small, rural district of Edgefield, South Carolina was the Deadwood of its day, amassing a reputation for murder and mayhem unique in the nation. Forget the gangs of New York, the toughs in tailored suits strutting about Edgefield's Court House Square were up for almost anything. Take this typical exchange between Thomas Cherry and Charles Cobb.

Cherry: "You Damn puppy."

Cobb: "What are you?"

Cherry: "Do you mean to call me a Damn puppy?"

Cobb: "What are you?"

Cherry: "If you call me a Puppy, I will ag you in the face."

Cobb: "You are nothing else."

With that Cherry stabbed Cobb through the face with an umbrella.

"If we over in Edgefield insult each other, there is generally a fight or a funeral afterwards."

"If we over in Edgefield insult each other, there is generally a fight or a funeral afterwards," noted Ben Tillman, one of the ten men of the district to serve the state as governor. Like Tillman, circuit judge Thomas Mackey took an almost perverse pride in the region's reputation. "I am going to hold court in Edgefield," he told a friend, "and I expect a somewhat exciting term, as the fall shooting is about to start."

Like most reputations, Edgefield's was at once deserved and exaggerated. At 39 percent, Edgefield County does have the highest proportion of violent crimes in the CSI:D sample. At 35 percent, Greenville County is not that far behind. More important, Edgefield's reputation for affairs of honor masks the mountain of dishonorable violence revealed by the morgue. Men spoiling for a fight on the street are rarely much different at home. In June 1893, Bill Gasten was sitting near his wood pile when his wife emerged from the house to draw some water from the well. Something she said set him off and he grabbed up a walking stick, hit her with it, then threw her down and began choking her. Emerging from the kitchen, her sister grabbed up the stick and told Bill to "let his wife alone." She had just started back to the kitchen when Bill cracked her head with a hoe.

Edgefield County, SC Inquests

Displaying 1 - 50 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Type Death Methodsort descending
Harry negro boy September 9, 1858 at the residence of the Rev. J. L. Brooks Accident
Doublin male slave, boy April 5, 1857 at the Residence of Mrs Delila Philips Natural Causes
Larrence Valentine December 28, 1893 at Mt[?] Willing Accident
Robert Johnston May 23, 1891 at Clarks Ferry below bridge on C. & G.[?] R R Accident
infant infant January 10, 1898 at Johnston Homicide
Lila Washington February 20, 1879 at Wesley Barns Mill Accident
George Hatcher freedman June 19, 1867 at B. W. Hatchers Mill on Shaws creek Natural Causes
Luther Sullivan October 26, 1898 near John Stuarts Homicide
Prince negro man October 27, 1844 at Mrs Elizabeth Timmermans Suicide
Robert W. Kincade December 27, 1845 at the house of Baley[?] Corley Natural Causes
William White December 10, 1898 at Savanah River Accident
infant child infant child July 24, 1892 at Promised Land School house Unknown
Martin B. Elam January 28, 1851 at Mrs Mary Elams Other
Willie Toney March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Robert slave, boy April 8, 1847 at Edward Hampton's Suicide
Thomas Glover August 2, 1893 at Bill Werk[?] Residence Homicide
Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm Natural Causes
Joseph Ruffington January 9, 1893 at Thos O Attaways Accident
Hurnon[?] April 4, 1862 at Doct H R Cooks Plantation on Savanah River Unknown
infant child infant child September 9, 1891 at Wards Natural Causes
William Harlin February 19, 1856 at a new place sitting by Mr James Swearingem(Jr) on the Akien Road Accident
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
Joseph Riddle April 10, 1856 at Hamburg Homicide
Fed Martin convict September 1, 1895 at Poor House and CH Unknown
Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill Natural Causes
Apling negro man April 5, 1849 in the woods in said district near the Lexington line on a branch of McGier Creek Homicide
A. G. Leek February 23, 1859 at A. G. Leeks Residence Other
Henry negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at New Savannah in beach Island Accident
Charles negro boy November 14, 1842 On Mr Thos Oliver's Plantation, at or near Said Oliver's residence Accident
James Leppard February 13, 1893 at F. M. Leppards Natural Causes
infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House Natural Causes
Joseph W. Glover September 2, 1844 at Charles Comptys[?] Hotel Homicide
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1857 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
Alice Adkinson October 18, 1898 at Republican Church Homicide
H. P. Church December 27, 1842 in the house of C. H. Goodman in the Vilage of Edgefield Other
Amanda Glover August 30, 1892 at Mr Pofse[?] Lotts Plantation Natural Causes
Lawrence Frazier child January 14, 1895 at D.B. Holingsworths Accident
Charley Geeter October 27, 1881 at Violets Geeter's house Accident
R. Mackgrath January 5, 1852 at the house of John Dobey Other
Elijah Sullivan April 24, 1898 at Cow-buel[?] place Accident
Charles slave July 31, 1851 at the house of John M. Norris Esqr in Edgefield Accident
Emaline Jackson August 27, 1894 at Dr Childs Plantation Natural Causes
Sis Bonham child February 18, 1894 at M.B. Davenports Accident
Dave Gillam August 25, 1892 at the house of Cal Smiths Homicide
John Whitlock boy September 8, 1869 at Grainteville Accident
Unknown April 11, 1860 at or near W.J. Walkers Unknown
negro man negro man April 10, 1850 near Kilcreases Ferry Accident
Dilsey Seigler September 20, 1869 at Miles Mills Natural Causes
Duke negro man March 25, 1855 near Dennis Carpenters Accident
Adam negro man Slave, boy August 3, 1850 at Vaucluse Factory Accident

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