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
negro man negro man April 10, 1850 near Kilcreases Ferry Accident
Henry Jennings September 14, 1891 at the residense of diceased Natural Causes
Wesley male slave, child October 5, 1857 at the residence of Sophia A Tilman Homicide
Pink Williams October 6, 1898 at or near Mr E.F. Pickles residence Homicide
Wade Barronton October 8, 1860 at Wade Barrontons Residence Natural Causes
Tilman Attaway April 14, 1849 at the corner of the Oharer[?] old field Accident
John M. Tillman May 6, 1860 at Mr J.A Tillmans Steam Mill Homicide
Will Collens October 20, 1894 at Gaines SC Homicide
Dinah Woman Slave May 22, 1849 at Allen Griffith Natural Causes
Joseph W. Glover September 2, 1844 at Charles Comptys[?] Hotel Homicide
Jim McKie October 26, 1898 near John starks Homicide
W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place Natural Causes
infant male child infant male child January 3, 1894 in Edgefield County Natural Causes
Allen Bauknight freedman June 11, 1866 at William Bauknights Accident
Dudley Roundtree August 10, 1856 at the dwelling house of the late Dudley Roundtree Natural Causes
Julia Hightower child November 9, 1890 at Mr Sam Marshes Place Accident
infant child infant child October 6, 1891 at her Residence Unknown
A. R. Steel girl child August 28, 1869 at Graniteville Accident
Anderson B. Branham January 6, 1892 at the plantation of M. C. Parker Unknown
Allen Holmes March 4, 1882 at Oscar Seigler Residence Homicide
Mingo Mosley January 13, 1883 at Samuel[?] Corley's Accident
Tom negro boy February 5, 1853 at the late residence of Col Harling Quarles[?] deceased Natural Causes
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
Joe slave, boy September 13, 1860 at the residence of D. M. Glover Homicide
Cesar Negro, negro boy July 7, 1843 at the house of Elijah Watson Homicide
Dilsey Seigler September 20, 1869 at Miles Mills Natural Causes
Reubin Weaver December 28, 1895 at Elijah Boatwrights Plantation Natural Causes
Mary Bright Hanpt[?] October 6, 1881 at Bright Hanpt[?] Unknown
infant, child infant, child November 29, 1894 at the plantation of J. P. Roton Natural Causes
Richmond slave March 3, 1857 at V[?] Elbert Blands residence at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Jim slave June 10, 1859 at M, L, Bonham Esqr residence on the Pine House road Natural Causes
Thomas Welheu[?] June 19, 1868 at Benjamin Better[?] wheat field on the Columbia & Augusta Rail Road Accident
George Ross June 29, 1898 at Adoms[?] place Homicide
Martin B. Elam January 28, 1851 at Mrs Mary Elams Other
Solomon negro man June 24, 1844 near the Mill of George A. McKee on Stevens Creek Accident
Charles slave July 31, 1851 at the house of John M. Norris Esqr in Edgefield Accident
Sam negro, slave September 18, 1846 at the residence of Mrs Nancy Delaughter Natural Causes
Louisa Wooden October 13, 1893 at Mose Woden Accident
Joel Etheridge November 29, 1893 at Joel Etheridge Residence Unknown
J. M. Long October 10, 1891 at J. M. Longs Homicide
John Shumport[?] November 7, 1851 at John Shumports[?] Accident
Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place Natural Causes
Henry Goodman May 4, 1851 at or near to William H Adams on little horse Creek Accident
Cland Elam child March 17, 1892 at A. J. Norris Place Accident
Samuel Harrison February 18, 1881 at [inelligible - faded] Accident
John Hester May 13, 1846 at Hamburg in the shop of J.J. Kenedy Accident
Jesse Limbecker June 18, 1869 at Hamburg Accident
John H Webb January 22, 1882 at James Webb Residence Accident
Nancy Slave June 19, 1847 at the house of Mrs G. Rily's Suicide
Joe Weston January 31, 1895 in Edgefield County 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