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 51 - 100 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Type Death Methodsort descending
Elmira Jackson May 18, 1884 at George Holingsworths House Accident
Thomas Welheu[?] June 19, 1868 at Benjamin Better[?] wheat field on the Columbia & Augusta Rail Road Accident
Luther Harris May 26, 1899 at the plantation of George F Towns Homicide
Richard Mims August 1, 1899 at the plantation of Mrs. H. Carter Accident
Henry Goodman May 4, 1851 at or near to William H Adams on little horse Creek Accident
Henry slave, boy May 1, 1857 at Arthur Glovers House, Horns Creek Accident
Tom negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at H. L. Maysons in Beach island Accident
J. F. Styron April 21, 1891 at residence of J. F. Styron[?] Accident
William H Maharey May 25, 1863 at Haslin Factory on the Procelian Manufacturing Company Accident
Mike negro man September 13, 1844 at Dr John D. Nicholsons Mill Accident
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
Charles negro man February 27, 1850 at Scotts Shoals on Savannah River Accident
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
George W. Medlock January 1, 1848 at the house of Daniel Abby Natural Causes
David West boy January 30, 1862 at Graniteville Accident
Matt Loyd February 24, 1891 at Mr. Carmal cemetary near the Old Wills Natural Causes
Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm Natural Causes
Sallie Busch August 21, 1892 at Lewis Beans plantation Natural Causes
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
Gus Blocker August 18, 1892 at the plantion of July Blocker Homicide
John J. Cobb July 23, 1843 at William Elkins Mill Pond Suicide
Julia Van June 20, 1892 at the plantation of Mr Joe Thurmond Homicide
Prince negro man October 27, 1844 at Mrs Elizabeth Timmermans Suicide
J. E. Black May 8, 1861 at the Residence of J. E. Black Other
Ryal Negro Slave July 28, 1851 at Mr Thos McKies Batteau landing on Big Stephen's Creek 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
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
Garett Doby October 11, 1880 at William Rufus Natural Causes
Dilsey Seigler September 20, 1869 at Miles Mills Natural Causes
Fed Martin convict September 1, 1895 at Poor House and CH Unknown
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 July 24, 1892 at Promised Land School house Unknown
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
Gertrude infant child December 1, 1891 at Edgfield Court house Accident
Stepney negro man September 29, 1848 at the Swamp Platation of Wiley Glover, decd on Savannah River Suicide
Riller three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden 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