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
Joseph Shaw July 26, 1858 at the residence of John H Shaw near Edgefield C.H. Accident
Isaac Jones July 1, 1881 at Ridge Spring Natural Causes
infant infant March 24, 1892 at Pinksville Homicide
Lila Washington February 20, 1879 at Wesley Barns Mill Accident
Ned Dozier September 27, 1893 at MJ Holsteins Homicide
A. G. Howard February 28, 1860 at Grannet Ville Depot Accident
infant infant January 24, 1893 at Clintonwards Accident
Al White October 12, 1898 at Mundy[?] Place Homicide
Hurnon[?] April 4, 1862 at Doct H R Cooks Plantation on Savanah River Unknown
John Webb March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Curry slave March 17, 1856 at Mrs Elizabeth Middletons Plantation Accident
Robert J. Butler September 15, 1864 at Hamburg Homicide
Pompy Robinson November 1, 1898 at Norris Place Natural Causes
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
Matt Loyd February 24, 1891 at Mr. Carmal cemetary near the Old Wills Natural Causes
Tom negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at H. L. Maysons in Beach island Accident
Ora Weaver February 21, 1891 at the plantation of D B. H Holfarth[illegible - ink blot] Accident
male baby male baby May 24, 1891 at the Saluda River Homicide
Wade Barronton October 8, 1860 at Wade Barrontons Residence Natural Causes
Lesthia Ridlehouse[Ridlehover?] January 5, 1892 at the Residence of Mrs Edny Mary Accident
Simon C. Wood[?] December 26, 1857 at Wm Calelaziers[?] Natural Causes
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation Natural Causes
Mary Harrison September 10, 1894 at Dornville Accident
Esther Jeter April 17, 1893 at Huiets x Roads Accident
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
W. W. Miller Sr. white man July 10, 1891 at J M. Mays place Accident
Robert Johnston May 23, 1891 at Clarks Ferry below bridge on C. & G.[?] R R Accident
Richard J. Barton December 28, 1866 at Mrs Lucinda Bartons Accident
Wade Medlock July 12, 1894 at Benjamin Boatwrights Plantation Unknown
Mary Bright Hanpt[?] October 6, 1881 at Bright Hanpt[?] Unknown
Fannie Patton November 18, 1898 at Francis Williams house Accident
J. E. Black May 8, 1861 at the Residence of J. E. Black Other
William White December 10, 1898 at Savanah River Accident
Richmond slave March 3, 1857 at V[?] Elbert Blands residence at Edgefield Court House Homicide
John Whitlock boy September 8, 1869 at Grainteville Accident
Garett Doby October 11, 1880 at William Rufus Natural Causes
Bettie Willis March 24, 1892 at the Croker place the home of Miss Bettie Willis Natural Causes
Allen Bauknight freedman June 11, 1866 at William Bauknights Accident
infant child infant child June 14, 1891 at Kenny Grave Yard Accident
Thomas Glover August 2, 1893 at Bill Werk[?] Residence Homicide
Wilson Griffin freedman February 13, 1867 at Luke Rodgers Homicide
Flora Harrison November 4, 1890 at Liberty Hill Homicide
W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place Natural Causes
Infant Infant December 18, 1894 at the Rinheart Grave yard Unknown
Joseph Ruffington January 9, 1893 at Thos O Attaways Accident
Lidda Hampton November 24, 1893 at A Derrecks Natural Causes
infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman Natural Causes
Will Collens October 20, 1894 at Gaines SC Homicide
David West boy January 30, 1862 at Graniteville Accident
Tandy Holmes September 21, 1894 at or on Dr. W.C. Prescotts Plantation Homicide

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