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
Robert J. Butler September 15, 1864 at Hamburg Homicide
Jack negro boy May 14, 1852 at the house of H. W. Posey Accident
Isaac Jones July 1, 1881 at Ridge Spring Natural Causes
Jno. C Swearingin April 24, 1895 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Aggy Latily[?] negro woman slave June 21, 1848 at the plantation of N L Griffin Unknown
Julia Hightower child November 9, 1890 at Mr Sam Marshes Place Accident
George W. Medlock January 1, 1848 at the house of Daniel Abby Natural Causes
David West boy January 30, 1862 at Graniteville Accident
Albert Watson June 15, 1892 at the plantation of W.B. Maffett Natural Causes
Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm Natural Causes
Cland Elam child March 17, 1892 at A. J. Norris Place Accident
James L. Hill January 10, 1867 at James L Hills Accident
infant infant December 15, 1892 at Mr. Pleasant Grave Yard Accident
Elick Youngblood child March 21, 1881 at S[?] R Warren Homicide
John J. Cobb July 23, 1843 at William Elkins Mill Pond Suicide
Toby negro man July 10, 1844 near Bauskett Bridge on Stevens Creek Accident
Julia Van June 20, 1892 at the plantation of Mr Joe Thurmond Homicide
infant, (male) infant, (male) April 29, 1857 at Potterville Homicide
J. E. Black May 8, 1861 at the Residence of J. E. Black Other
Henry Jones September 21, 1855 Accident
Mid[?] Griffin February 2, 1895 at the Govelace[?] Place Natural Causes
Elijah Flour[?] youth July 24, 1849 at the hous of Mrs Salley Spradley Accident
James Frazier Babie October 24, 1890 at D. B Hollingworth Accident
Joseph Moore Jr. April 19, 1846 at the house of Dr John D. Nicholson Natural Causes
Joe Elam February 16, 1882 at Nicholson premises Natural Causes
John Shumport[?] November 7, 1851 at John Shumports[?] Accident
infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House Natural Causes
Richard J. Barton December 28, 1866 at Mrs Lucinda Bartons Accident
Dilsey Seigler September 20, 1869 at Miles Mills Natural Causes
Fed Martin convict September 1, 1895 at Poor House and CH Unknown
Charley Ryan May 9, 1892 at T. H. Ramsford Plantion Homicide
Duke negro man March 25, 1855 near Dennis Carpenters Accident
Bartly negro man January 16, 1846 in the woods near the plantation of Dr Wm M Bent Unknown
Emaline Jackson August 27, 1894 at Dr Childs Plantation Natural Causes
infant child infant child December 9, 1891 at a colored cemetary Accident
William Perry January 7, 1894 in the county and state aforesaid Accident
Susan Churchwell October 6, 1884 at Allen Simkins House Unknown
Flora Harrison November 4, 1890 at Liberty Hill Homicide
Stepney negro man September 29, 1848 at the Swamp Platation of Wiley Glover, decd on Savannah River Suicide
Richard Lundy December 7, 1891 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Riller three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman Natural Causes
Lizza colered woman October 7, 1866 at the house of Thomas S. Miller Natural Causes
Rose three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
Henry Jennings September 14, 1891 at the residense of diceased Natural Causes
James Thomas colored July 20, 1869 at Liberty Hill County Homicide
E. M. Whatley August 31, 1893 at E M Whatley's Suicide
Hampton Reynolds July 30, 1892 at J.W. Reynolds Plantation Accident
Robert slave, boy April 8, 1847 at Edward Hampton's Suicide
Luther Sullivan October 26, 1898 near John Stuarts Homicide

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