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
Anderson B. Branham January 6, 1892 at the plantation of M. C. Parker Unknown
Willie G. Harris March 25, 1897 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Eva Blocker February 11, 1893 at J. P. Wrights Plantation Accident
Willie Toney March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Benjamin Cockroft March 18, 1847 in the woods near the house of Beryman[?] Bledsoe Accident
Apling negro man April 5, 1849 in the woods in said district near the Lexington line on a branch of McGier Creek Homicide
Henry negro man June 3, 1849 at the house of Mrs Mary Harrison Accident
Warren Kirkland November 16, 1858 at Benjamin Bartons Homicide
J. E. Black May 8, 1861 at the Residence of J. E. Black Other
Gus Blocker August 18, 1892 at the plantion of July Blocker Homicide
Charles negro boy March 7, 1857 at Archy Clark residence Accident
John Whitlock boy September 8, 1869 at Grainteville Accident
Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation Natural Causes
Flora Harrison November 4, 1890 at Liberty Hill Homicide
Mary Harrison September 10, 1894 at Dornville Accident
Joe infant negro August 26, 1860 at John Huiets Accident
Julia Mundy June 17, 1881 at Jas H Banknight Homicide
Isaac Jones July 1, 1881 at Ridge Spring Natural Causes
Nelson Smith freedman, boy October 4, 1866 at Andrew Warts Homicide
infant male child infant male child January 3, 1894 in Edgefield County Natural Causes
Jim Coleman freidman November 15, 1866 at the Mackey Place on horse Creek Accident
John Young June 27, 1891 at the residence of John Young Accident
Robert W. Kincade December 27, 1845 at the house of Baley[?] Corley Natural Causes
Lewis slave May 21, 1861 at S. H. Roggers Suicide
Solomon Ellenberg February 18, 1859 near the Residence of G.M. Ouzts[?] Suicide
Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place Natural Causes
Doublin male slave, boy April 5, 1857 at the Residence of Mrs Delila Philips Natural Causes
Peter White March 11, 1898 at Jacob White upon the Plantation Silvester Chipley Homicide
Lawrence Frazier child January 14, 1895 at D.B. Holingsworths Accident
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
Jno. C Swearingin April 24, 1895 at Edgefield CH Homicide
infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House Natural Causes
infant infant December 15, 1892 at Mr. Pleasant Grave Yard Accident
John Matthews October 13, 1829 at the house of William Adams Other
Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing Natural Causes
Sallie Young December 8, 1890 at Mr A. F Broadwaters Plantation Accident
A. G. Howard February 28, 1860 at Grannet Ville Depot Accident
Unknown April 11, 1860 at or near W.J. Walkers Unknown
Toby negro man July 10, 1844 near Bauskett Bridge on Stevens Creek Accident
infant child infant child September 9, 1891 at Wards Natural Causes
John J. Cobb July 23, 1843 at William Elkins Mill Pond Suicide
Mary Gillam January 1, 1891 at Mrs Francis Wrights Plantation Natural Causes
Lila Washington February 20, 1879 at Wesley Barns Mill Accident
William Samuel April 26, 1891 at Scima[?] Hill Church Homicide
James L. Hill January 10, 1867 at James L Hills Accident
Lesthia Ridlehouse[Ridlehover?] January 5, 1892 at the Residence of Mrs Edny Mary Accident
Louisa Wooden October 13, 1893 at Mose Woden Accident
Jack Taylor April 11, 1892 at the house of Hal[?] Miles Natural Causes
Dave Gillam August 25, 1892 at the house of Cal Smiths Homicide
John H. Anderson March 21, 1891 at Tom Anderson place Homicide

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