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
Ora Weaver February 21, 1891 at the plantation of D B. H Holfarth[illegible - ink blot] Accident
Lidda Hampton November 24, 1893 at A Derrecks Natural Causes
Robert W. Kincade December 27, 1845 at the house of Baley[?] Corley Natural Causes
Lewis slave May 21, 1861 at S. H. Roggers Suicide
William Perry January 7, 1894 in the county and state aforesaid Accident
Simon C. Wood[?] December 26, 1857 at Wm Calelaziers[?] Natural Causes
Lucius Walker October 5, 1869 at James Doziers plantation Accident
Charles slave, boy September 25, 1861 at Elijah Watson Homicide
Elijah Sullivan April 24, 1898 at Cow-buel[?] place Accident
Isham Glover August 9, 1892 at Edgefield C.H. Homicide
David West boy January 30, 1862 at Graniteville Accident
Charles negro man February 27, 1850 at Scotts Shoals on Savannah River Accident
Ansabelle Brown October 21, 1866 near the Tambor[?] Soba[?] Rail Road Unknown
Adam negro man Slave, boy August 3, 1850 at Vaucluse Factory Accident
infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman Natural Causes
infant child infant child September 9, 1891 at Wards Natural Causes
Charles slave July 31, 1851 at the house of John M. Norris Esqr in Edgefield Accident
Thomas Glover August 2, 1893 at Bill Werk[?] Residence Homicide
Henry Ethredge June 2, 1899 at the plantation of P.B. Mayson Accident
Peter Negro man December 30, 1859 at the Plantation of Mr Wm Bunch Accident
Mahlon Jones December 25, 1891 at Landrams Farm Homicide
J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H. Natural Causes
Aggy Latily[?] negro woman slave June 21, 1848 at the plantation of N L Griffin Unknown
Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation Natural Causes
John G. Riddle July 3, 1860 at the residence of Mr Richard Burton Natural Causes
Bettie Willis March 24, 1892 at the Croker place the home of Miss Bettie Willis Natural Causes
Enoch Douglass August 11, 1879 near Wesly Barrs on the rail road Accident
Lona May Hamilton child October 18, 1893 at or near Longmires PO[?] Natural Causes
James Frazier Babie October 24, 1890 at D. B Hollingworth Accident
Emanuel slave March 12, 1856 at Matthew McGraw's plantation Accident
Sallie Holmes December 20, 1893 at D. P. Bodies[?] Accident
Wilson Griffin freedman February 13, 1867 at Luke Rodgers Homicide
Peyton Bird colored September 29, 1869 at Edgefield CH Natural Causes
Henry Jones September 21, 1855 Accident
Elleck free boy December 13, 1866 at Johnathan Gregorys Accident
Nelson Smith freedman, boy October 4, 1866 at Andrew Warts Homicide
Ann Kimball September 4, 1895 at China grove church Homicide
Rufus Harling September 16, 1897 at Clarks Hill Homicide
Joe Weston January 31, 1895 in Edgefield County Homicide
George Robinson January 12, 1892 at the plantation of E. B. Davis Natural Causes
Ryal Negro Slave July 28, 1851 at Mr Thos McKies Batteau landing on Big Stephen's Creek Accident
Lousay November 25, 1860 at Doct John E. Padgett Accident
Henry Jennings September 14, 1891 at the residense of diceased Natural Causes
Curry slave March 17, 1856 at Mrs Elizabeth Middletons Plantation Accident
Eunice Hogan October 26, 1851 at the house of John Briskey Homicide
Edward Johnston December 26, 1892 at William Bushes Unknown
Allen Bauknight freedman June 11, 1866 at William Bauknights Accident
Hardy Boulware January 2, 1862 at Hardy Boulwares Homicide
Presley Wise July 11, 1891 at D W. Padgetts plantation Homicide
Whit Terry October 19, 1894 J.K. Corleys Place Homicide

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