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
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation Natural Causes
Elijah Flour[?] youth July 24, 1849 at the hous of Mrs Salley Spradley Accident
Peter White March 11, 1898 at Jacob White upon the Plantation Silvester Chipley Homicide
John Matthews October 13, 1829 at the house of William Adams Other
Charles M. Creswell August 5, 1869 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Dinah Woman Slave May 22, 1849 at Allen Griffith Natural Causes
A. G. Howard February 28, 1860 at Grannet Ville Depot Accident
infant infant January 10, 1898 at Johnston Homicide
Lewis negro man March 20, 1846 at & in the Revd Mr. Brooks Plantation Accident
Adam Barker August 10, 1879 at the Residence of Adam Barker Decd Suicide
Prince negro man October 27, 1844 at Mrs Elizabeth Timmermans Suicide
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
infant, (male) infant, (male) April 29, 1857 at Potterville Homicide
Silvy Nix January 1, 1891 Natural Causes
Tom Waldrum colored man (Free) January 20, 1857 in the woods near Mr Avory Franklins Accident
Charley Geeter October 27, 1881 at Violets Geeter's house Accident
Henry Jones September 21, 1855 Accident
Mary Slave May 17, 1847 at the Plantation of A. Perrin Homicide
Charity Johnson March 11, 1847 at the Residence of Charity Johnson, late deceased Natural Causes
Bartly negro man January 16, 1846 in the woods near the plantation of Dr Wm M Bent Unknown
Levi S. Mathews July 13, 1892 at G. C. Wheerles[?] Residence Natural Causes
Al White October 12, 1898 at Mundy[?] Place Homicide
William Lundy August 28, 1846 at house of John Rainsford Accident
Abram negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at Henry L Maysons Accident
Hurnon[?] April 4, 1862 at Doct H R Cooks Plantation on Savanah River Unknown
Henry negro man June 3, 1849 at the house of Mrs Mary Harrison Accident
Thomas Welheu[?] June 19, 1868 at Benjamin Better[?] wheat field on the Columbia & Augusta Rail Road Accident
Tom negro slave December 18, 1858 at Chlo Watsons Homicide
Blassingame Wise April 27, 1848 at or near the Negro quarter of Mrs Wiley Glover, on Savannah River Suicide
Julia Hightower child November 9, 1890 at Mr Sam Marshes Place Accident
Joseph W. Glover September 2, 1844 at Charles Comptys[?] Hotel Homicide
John Whitlock boy September 8, 1869 at Grainteville Accident
Isham Glover August 9, 1892 at Edgefield C.H. Homicide
H. P. Church December 27, 1842 in the house of C. H. Goodman in the Vilage of Edgefield Other
William Harlin February 19, 1856 at a new place sitting by Mr James Swearingem(Jr) on the Akien Road Accident
Anderson B. Branham January 6, 1892 at the plantation of M. C. Parker Unknown
B. C. Bryan March 16, 1884 at B C Bryan Residence Natural Causes
Hampton Reynolds July 30, 1892 at J.W. Reynolds Plantation Accident
Lizza colered woman October 7, 1866 at the house of Thomas S. Miller Natural Causes
Sarah Scurry September 28, 1844 at the House of Sarah Scurry Suicide
Joseph Powel August 18, 1879 at [??] Accident
Levi H. McDaniel March 9, 1859 at or near the 17 mile Post on the Scotts Ferry Road Homicide
Clem slave, boy October 3, 1858 at Tabitha Abney's Accident
William Samuel April 26, 1891 at Scima[?] Hill Church Homicide
Lewis slave May 21, 1861 at S. H. Roggers Suicide
Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm Natural Causes
Julia Banks September 4, 1891 at Mr Banks Plantation Natural Causes
John Webb March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Tom negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at H. L. Maysons in Beach island Accident
Pompy Robinson November 1, 1898 at Norris Place Natural Causes

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