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 151 - 200 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Type Death Methodsort descending
Charles negro boy March 7, 1857 at Archy Clark residence Accident
Gus West October 11, 1883 at Jack Holms Unknown
Ed Glover July 8, 1882 at Poore House Accident
Joseph Moore Jr. April 19, 1846 at the house of Dr John D. Nicholson Natural Causes
John H Webb January 22, 1882 at James Webb Residence Accident
Frank Milton child January 26, 1894 at Sanders Loricks Natural Causes
Julia Hightower child November 9, 1890 at Mr Sam Marshes Place Accident
Joe slave, boy September 13, 1860 at the residence of D. M. Glover Homicide
Sarah Lucas October 30, 1890 at Mr. M L Holson Accident
J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H. Natural Causes
James Frazier Babie October 24, 1890 at D. B Hollingworth Accident
Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation Natural Causes
Adam Barker August 10, 1879 at the Residence of Adam Barker Decd Suicide
Ora Weaver February 21, 1891 at the plantation of D B. H Holfarth[illegible - ink blot] Accident
Eldrige Padgett February 9, 1859 at Eidson Padgetts Accident
Abram negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at Henry L Maysons Accident
Wilson Griffin freedman February 13, 1867 at Luke Rodgers Homicide
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
Al White October 12, 1898 at Mundy[?] Place Homicide
Dave Gillam August 25, 1892 at the house of Cal Smiths Homicide
W. W. Miller Sr. white man July 10, 1891 at J M. Mays place Accident
Blassingame Wise April 27, 1848 at or near the Negro quarter of Mrs Wiley Glover, on Savannah River Suicide
Lovina negroe girl, a slave September 4, 1860 at Doct H M Folks[Faulk?] Suicide
Edmond Price April 30, 1892 at Kennys Graveyard Unknown
Tom negro slave December 18, 1858 at Chlo Watsons Homicide
James Edward Settle boy March 9, 1884 on Henry Hill Plantation Accident
Riller three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
Cesar Negro, negro boy July 7, 1843 at the house of Elijah Watson Homicide
Willis Cumings child October 10, 1890 at C. M. Lanhams Accident
Henry negro man June 3, 1849 at the house of Mrs Mary Harrison Accident
Alexander P. Kennard February 16, 1847 in the District Natural Causes
Luther Harris May 26, 1899 at the plantation of George F Towns Homicide
Sallie Young December 8, 1890 at Mr A. F Broadwaters Plantation Accident
Cland Elam child March 17, 1892 at A. J. Norris Place Accident
Bettie Willis March 24, 1892 at the Croker place the home of Miss Bettie Willis Natural Causes
B. J. Mims January 20, 1885 at the Residence of Capt B J Mims Natural Causes
Tom negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at H. L. Maysons in Beach island Accident
Benjamin Cockroft March 18, 1847 in the woods near the house of Beryman[?] Bledsoe Accident
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
Tandy Holmes September 21, 1894 at or on Dr. W.C. Prescotts Plantation Homicide
Julia Banks September 4, 1891 at Mr Banks Plantation Natural Causes
Lucious Perry November 8, 1891 at the plantation of Ben Boatwright Homicide
Unknown April 11, 1860 at or near W.J. Walkers Unknown
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
Rose three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
John slave September 27, 1863 at the residence of Johnson A Bland Accident
Gus Blocker August 18, 1892 at the plantion of July Blocker Homicide
Belaus[Velaus?] slave, boy March 30, 1863 at Robert Smiths Accident
Elmira Jackson May 18, 1884 at George Holingsworths House Accident
infant child infant child December 9, 1891 at a colored cemetary Accident

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