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
Henry Ethredge June 2, 1899 at the plantation of P.B. Mayson Accident
Pete slave October 31, 1864 at Liberty hill Unknown
Mahlon Jones December 25, 1891 at Landrams Farm Homicide
John Young June 27, 1891 at the residence of John Young Accident
James Mitchell February 18, 1879 at L D Laudrums Natural Causes
Daniel slave, boy April 28, 1859 at L. Halls Tisery[?] Suicide
Will Collens October 20, 1894 at Gaines SC Homicide
Henry Jones September 21, 1855 Accident
Willie G. Harris March 25, 1897 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Fed Martin convict September 1, 1895 at Poor House and CH Unknown
Harriet negro woman July 20, 1859 at the residence of JB Rease Natural Causes
Joshua negro man slave June 26, 1860 at Harmon Gallman Unknown
George Mitchel June 21, 1881 at J. R Corleys Accident
Charles slave, boy September 25, 1861 at Elijah Watson Homicide
Presley Wise July 11, 1891 at D W. Padgetts plantation Homicide
A. G. Howard February 28, 1860 at Grannet Ville Depot Accident
Henry Goodman May 4, 1851 at or near to William H Adams on little horse Creek Accident
Lesthia Ridlehouse[Ridlehover?] January 5, 1892 at the Residence of Mrs Edny Mary Accident
Howard Gale June 13, 1879 at Jacksons Holinns[?] Mill Accident
Elijah Sullivan April 24, 1898 at Cow-buel[?] place Accident
George Washington Crowder October 19, 1866 at Grannetville Accident
Mary Slave May 17, 1847 at the Plantation of A. Perrin Homicide
Charity Johnson March 11, 1847 at the Residence of Charity Johnson, late deceased Natural Causes
Hampton Reynolds July 30, 1892 at J.W. Reynolds Plantation Accident
Peter White March 11, 1898 at Jacob White upon the Plantation Silvester Chipley Homicide
W. W. Miller Sr. white man July 10, 1891 at J M. Mays place Accident
Nelson Smith freedman, boy October 4, 1866 at Andrew Warts Homicide
Jim Coleman freidman November 15, 1866 at the Mackey Place on horse Creek Accident
Thomas Glover August 2, 1893 at Bill Werk[?] Residence Homicide
Lindy Jones March 15, 1882 at George Holingsworth House Accident
Rufus Harling September 16, 1897 at Clarks Hill Homicide
Jno. C Swearingin April 24, 1895 at Edgefield CH Homicide
John G. Riddle July 3, 1860 at the residence of Mr Richard Burton Natural Causes
Sarah Scurry September 28, 1844 at the House of Sarah Scurry Suicide
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation Natural Causes
Sallie Busch August 21, 1892 at Lewis Beans plantation Natural Causes
Gertrude infant child December 1, 1891 at Edgfield Court house Accident
Ann Kimball September 4, 1895 at China grove church Homicide
Tandy Holmes September 21, 1894 at or on Dr. W.C. Prescotts Plantation Homicide
Joe Weston January 31, 1895 in Edgefield County Homicide
David West boy January 30, 1862 at Graniteville Accident
Richard J. Barton December 28, 1866 at Mrs Lucinda Bartons Accident
James L. Hill January 10, 1867 at James L Hills Accident
infant child infant child July 24, 1892 at Promised Land School house Unknown
Lizzie Greeg July 4, 1884 at Capt Taliar[?] Hearin[?] Natural Causes
Caroline Free negro August 26, 1858 four miles from Hamburg Unknown
infant child infant child December 14, 1877 at Dr. K N Hudsons plantation Homicide
Ansabelle Brown October 21, 1866 near the Tambor[?] Soba[?] Rail Road Unknown
Mid[?] Griffin February 2, 1895 at the Govelace[?] Place Natural Causes
Jesse Moragna[?] March 3, 1882 at Luke Moragines[?] House Accident

Get in touch

  • Department of History
    220 LeConte Hall, Baldwin Street
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602-1602
  • 706-542-2053
  • admin@ehistory.org

eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry

Learn More about eHistory

Supporters

+ American Council of Learned Societies
+ DigiLab, Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, University of Georgia