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
Selena Allen child, boy, baby December 12, 1890 at Mrs Blacks[?] Plantation Accident
Mid[?] Griffin February 2, 1895 at the Govelace[?] Place Natural Causes
infant child infant child December 9, 1891 at a colored cemetary Accident
John McKinny September 26, 1894 at W P. Lipfords[?] Homicide
Ansabelle Brown October 21, 1866 near the Tambor[?] Soba[?] Rail Road Unknown
infant child infant child June 14, 1891 at Kenny Grave Yard Accident
Stepney negro man September 29, 1848 at the Swamp Platation of Wiley Glover, decd on Savannah River Suicide
Abram slave October 8, 1860 at the Residence of H. B. Raborns Natural Causes
Susan Churchwell October 6, 1884 at Allen Simkins House Unknown
Tom negro boy February 5, 1853 at the late residence of Col Harling Quarles[?] deceased Natural Causes
Jim Coleman freidman November 15, 1866 at the Mackey Place on horse Creek Accident
Cesar Negro, negro boy July 7, 1843 at the house of Elijah Watson Homicide
Alexander P. Kennard February 16, 1847 in the District Natural Causes
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
William Harlin February 19, 1856 at a new place sitting by Mr James Swearingem(Jr) on the Akien Road Accident
Joel W. Warren November 9, 1894 at Joseph Mirren[?] House Natural Causes
Samuel Harrison February 18, 1881 at [inelligible - faded] Accident
Henry slave, boy May 1, 1857 at Arthur Glovers House, Horns Creek Accident
Charles M. Creswell August 5, 1869 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Robert W. Kincade December 27, 1845 at the house of Baley[?] Corley Natural Causes
Lindy Jones March 15, 1882 at George Holingsworth House Accident
Unknown April 11, 1860 at or near W.J. Walkers Unknown
Eunice Hogan October 26, 1851 at the house of John Briskey Homicide
Hampton Reynolds July 30, 1892 at J.W. Reynolds Plantation Accident
William H Maharey May 25, 1863 at Haslin Factory on the Procelian Manufacturing Company Accident
Thomas child of Thomas M Chandler September 11, 1850 at Thos M. Chandler's house, and at the old Pottery Accident
Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation Natural Causes
Luther Sullivan October 26, 1898 near John Stuarts Homicide
Blanchy Wilson November 30, 1893 on the plantation of Robert Hastings Accident
Julia Banks September 4, 1891 at Mr Banks Plantation Natural Causes
James Frazier Babie October 24, 1890 at D. B Hollingworth Accident
John Hester May 13, 1846 at Hamburg in the shop of J.J. Kenedy Accident
James L. Hill January 10, 1867 at James L Hills Accident
Caroline Free negro August 26, 1858 four miles from Hamburg Unknown
Richard J. Barton December 28, 1866 at Mrs Lucinda Bartons Accident
Frank Milton child January 26, 1894 at Sanders Loricks Natural Causes
Al White October 12, 1898 at Mundy[?] Place Homicide
John McManas December 4, 1883 at the Jail Accident
Richard Mims August 1, 1899 at the plantation of Mrs. H. Carter Accident
Lizza colered woman October 7, 1866 at the house of Thomas S. Miller Natural Causes
Lizzie Greeg July 4, 1884 at Capt Taliar[?] Hearin[?] Natural Causes
E. M. Whatley August 31, 1893 at E M Whatley's Suicide
A. R. Steel girl child August 28, 1869 at Graniteville Accident
Sallie Busch August 21, 1892 at Lewis Beans plantation Natural Causes
Robert J. Butler September 15, 1864 at Hamburg Homicide
James Thomas colored July 20, 1869 at Liberty Hill County Homicide
Robert slave, boy April 8, 1847 at Edward Hampton's Suicide
Dilsey Seigler September 20, 1869 at Miles Mills Natural Causes
Daniel slave, boy April 28, 1859 at L. Halls Tisery[?] Suicide
male baby male baby May 24, 1891 at the Saluda River 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