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
Victor male slave April 24, 1859 at A. L. Dearing Plantation Natural Causes
infant, child infant, child November 29, 1894 at the plantation of J. P. Roton Natural Causes
Ansabelle Brown October 21, 1866 near the Tambor[?] Soba[?] Rail Road unknown
Bob negro September 23, 1864 in the District Natural Causes
Sam negro, slave September 18, 1846 at the residence of Mrs Nancy Delaughter Natural Causes
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1857 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
John G. Riddle July 3, 1860 at the residence of Mr Richard Burton Natural Causes
Joel W. Warren November 9, 1894 at Joseph Mirren[?] House Natural Causes
Reubin Weaver at Elijah Boatwrights Plantation Natural Causes
Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place Natural Causes
Charity Johnson March 11, 1847 at the Residence of Charity Johnson, late deceased Natural Causes
Minda negro girl August 17, 1851 at Mr Geo Robinsons unknown
Edmond Price April 30, 1892 at Kennys Graveyard unknown
J. B. Whittle November 28, 1894 at Mrs Whittles Natural Causes
Bettie Willis March 24, 1892 at the Croker place the home of Miss Bettie Willis Natural Causes
Kizziah[?] slave, servant March 11, 1860 at the residence of Mr M Lanham Natural Causes
Peyton Bird colored September 29, 1869 at Edgefield CH Natural Causes
infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House Natural Causes
Lidda Hampton November 24, 1893 at A Derrecks Natural Causes
Edward Johnston December 26, 1892 at William Bushes unknown
James Mitchell February 18, 1879 at L D Laudrums Natural Causes
Sindy Brighthop August 21, 1898 on S.W. Gardners place unknown
Isaac Jones July 1, 1881 at Ridge Spring Natural Causes
John Brown December 20, 1844 at the house of John Brown Natural Causes
Albert Watson June 15, 1892 at the plantation of W.B. Maffett Natural Causes
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
Bartly negro man January 16, 1846 in the woods near the plantation of Dr Wm M Bent unknown
Hurnon[?] April 4, 1862 at Doct H R Cooks Plantation on Savanah River unknown
Garett Doby at William Rufus Natural Causes
Jack Taylor April 11, 1892 at the house of Hal[?] Miles Natural Causes
Tephius[?] Cornwall January 14, 1845 on one of the Public Streets of the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place Natural Causes
Frank Milton child January 26, 1894 at Sanders Loricks Natural Causes
Pete slave October 31, 1864 at Liberty hill unknown
infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman Natural Causes
Eddie Watson Infant April 25, 1892 at Bob Stevens Natural Causes
Levi S. Mathews July 13, 1892 at G. C. Wheerles[?] Residence Natural Causes
Amanda Glover August 30, 1892 at Mr Pofse[?] Lotts Plantation Natural Causes
infant male child infant male child in Edgefield County Natural Causes
Infred Padgett July 12, 1848 at the Joal of Edgefield Natural Causes
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1858 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
William Anderson April 14, 1864 at the plantation of T.[?] S Boles Natural Causes
Aggy Latily[?] negro woman slave June 21, 1848 at the plantation of N L Griffin unknown
Richard Stevens February 21, 1898 at Johnston S.C. Natural Causes
Mary Bright Hanpt[?] October 6, 1881 at Bright Hanpt[?] unknown
Sam slave, boy October 10, 1857 at the Carolina Hotel, Edgefield C.H. unknown
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation Natural Causes
Emaline Jackson August 27, 1894 at Dr Childs Plantation Natural Causes
Dilsey Seigler September 20, 1869 at Miles Mills Natural Causes
Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation Natural Causes

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