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
Rose negro woman Slave March 14, 1846 at Michael Longs Homicide
Unknown April 11, 1860 at or near W.J. Walkers Unknown
infant child infant child November 17, 1891 at Mr M Toneys place Unknown
Ras slave December 6, 1850 at D Dennys Mill Suicide
Rose three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
Harriet negro woman July 20, 1859 at the residence of JB Rease Natural Causes
Howard Gale June 13, 1879 at Jacksons Holinns[?] Mill Accident
infant child infant child January 18, 1892 at the Plantation of L. G. Swearinger Accident
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
Robert slave, boy April 8, 1847 at Edward Hampton's Suicide
Jim Brown Child April 19, 1882 on Jasper Talbert Premises Unknown
Jim slave June 10, 1859 at M, L, Bonham Esqr residence on the Pine House road Natural Causes
Blassingame Wise April 27, 1848 at or near the Negro quarter of Mrs Wiley Glover, on Savannah River Suicide
W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place Natural Causes
Levi S. Mathews July 13, 1892 at G. C. Wheerles[?] Residence Natural Causes
Henry Turner September 24, 1878 at Johnstons Homicide
Lucius Walker October 5, 1869 at James Doziers plantation Accident
Richard Mims August 1, 1899 at the plantation of Mrs. H. Carter Accident
Joseph Riddle April 10, 1856 at Hamburg Homicide
Lewis slave May 21, 1861 at S. H. Roggers Suicide
Infant Boy Child Colored Infant Boy Child Colored February 15, 1883 at the residence of Charles Coleman Unknown
Joe infant negro August 26, 1860 at John Huiets Accident
Sallie Young December 8, 1890 at Mr A. F Broadwaters Plantation Accident
J. F. Styron April 21, 1891 at residence of J. F. Styron[?] Accident
Charles negro boy November 14, 1842 On Mr Thos Oliver's Plantation, at or near Said Oliver's residence Accident
Lilla Olophant female infant August 18, 1879 at Simpton[?] Pinns[?] Accident
A. R. Steel girl child August 28, 1869 at Graniteville Accident
Edmond Price April 30, 1892 at Kennys Graveyard Unknown
Jno. C Swearingin April 24, 1895 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Unknown August 30, 1866 at Fosity[?] Creek ford Unknown
Henry negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at New Savannah in beach Island 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
infant infant January 24, 1893 at Clintonwards Accident
R. Mackgrath January 5, 1852 at the house of John Dobey Other
George Hatcher freedman June 19, 1867 at B. W. Hatchers Mill on Shaws creek Natural Causes
Kenneth Martor[?] January 15, 1852 at Thomas Samar's[?] Mills on horse creek Accident
Solomon negro man June 24, 1844 near the Mill of George A. McKee on Stevens Creek Accident
Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm Natural Causes
Dick male slave July 13, 1859 at Ted Scurrys residence Accident
Rebeca Eidson May 29, 1861 at the Residence of William Eidson Natural Causes
Warren Kirkland November 16, 1858 at Benjamin Bartons Homicide
Peyton Bird colored September 29, 1869 at Edgefield CH Natural Causes
Clem slave, boy October 3, 1858 at Tabitha Abney's Accident
John Rufus Russell October 10, 1884 at John L Russell House Accident
Charles slave, boy September 25, 1861 at Elijah Watson Homicide
William Prince July 9, 1851 at the house of John W Garrett Accident
Ora Weaver February 21, 1891 at the plantation of D B. H Holfarth[illegible - ink blot] Accident
Julia Van June 20, 1892 at the plantation of Mr Joe Thurmond Homicide
Ned Dozier September 27, 1893 at MJ Holsteins Homicide

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