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
Henry Ethredge June 2, 1899 at the plantation of P.B. Mayson Accident
Joe Weston January 31, 1895 in Edgefield County Homicide
Warren Kirkland November 16, 1858 at Benjamin Bartons Homicide
Harriet negro woman July 20, 1859 at the residence of JB Rease Natural Causes
J. M. Long October 10, 1891 at J. M. Longs Homicide
Dick male slave July 13, 1859 at Ted Scurrys residence Accident
Milledge Stuard October 8, 1881 at Mount [??] Yard Natural Causes
infant child infant child January 10, 1892 at Trenton Accident
infant child infant child January 18, 1892 at the Plantation of L. G. Swearinger Accident
Tom Waldrum colored man (Free) January 20, 1857 in the woods near Mr Avory Franklins Accident
Doublin male slave, boy April 5, 1857 at the Residence of Mrs Delila Philips Natural Causes
Emaline Jackson August 27, 1894 at Dr Childs Plantation Natural Causes
George Ross June 29, 1898 at Adoms[?] place Homicide
James Perry December 27, 1894 at Mt Enon Church Accident
Lizzie Darian child November 21, 1894 at Waldo Richardsons Accident
J. E. Black May 8, 1861 at the Residence of J. E. Black Other
Lucious Perry November 8, 1891 at the plantation of Ben Boatwright Homicide
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation Natural Causes
E. M. Whatley August 31, 1893 at E M Whatley's Suicide
Ras slave December 6, 1850 at D Dennys Mill Suicide
John E. Paul June 14, 1892 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House Natural Causes
infant child infant child July 24, 1892 at Promised Land School house Unknown
Alice Adkinson October 18, 1898 at Republican Church Homicide
Lucius Walker October 5, 1869 at James Doziers plantation Accident
Wilson Griffin freedman February 13, 1867 at Luke Rodgers Homicide
Riller three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
William Bailey July 19, 1846 at the House of Samuel C Scott Homicide
Willie Toney March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Joseph Shaw July 26, 1858 at the residence of John H Shaw near Edgefield C.H. Accident
Gus West October 11, 1883 at Jack Holms Unknown
J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H. Natural Causes
Joe Elam February 16, 1882 at Nicholson premises Natural Causes
Sarah Lucas October 30, 1890 at Mr. M L Holson Accident
John slave September 27, 1863 at the residence of Johnson A Bland Accident
Lindy Jones March 15, 1882 at George Holingsworth House Accident
Cland Elam child March 17, 1892 at A. J. Norris Place Accident
William Harlin February 19, 1856 at a new place sitting by Mr James Swearingem(Jr) on the Akien Road Accident
Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill Natural Causes
Curry slave March 17, 1856 at Mrs Elizabeth Middletons Plantation Accident
Charly Washington boy November 22, 1891 at the house of George Washington near Bauknights ferry Accident
Mary Harrison September 10, 1894 at Dornville Accident
Nancy Weaver December 20, 1893 at Edgefield Court House Accident
Unknown August 30, 1866 at Fosity[?] Creek ford Unknown
Hurnon[?] April 4, 1862 at Doct H R Cooks Plantation on Savanah River Unknown
infant infant January 10, 1898 at Johnston Homicide
Sindy Brighthop August 21, 1898 on S.W. Gardners place Homicide
Mary Grace Aldrich infant child August 11, 1856 at Graniteville Homicide
Pete slave October 31, 1864 at Liberty hill Unknown

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