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
John Webb March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Mary Grace Aldrich infant child August 11, 1856 at Graniteville Homicide
Elijah Sullivan April 24, 1898 at Cow-buel[?] place Accident
Lovina negroe girl, a slave September 4, 1860 at Doct H M Folks[Faulk?] Suicide
Peter White March 11, 1898 at Jacob White upon the Plantation Silvester Chipley Homicide
Nancy Weaver December 20, 1893 at Edgefield Court House Accident
Richard J. Barton December 28, 1866 at Mrs Lucinda Bartons Accident
Rose three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place Natural Causes
A. P. Shultz January 9, 1850 at or near Solomon Clickleys[?] Unknown
Minnie Johnson December 22, 1892 at John Bettis plantation Accident
Charles negro man February 27, 1850 at Scotts Shoals on Savannah River Accident
J. B. Whittle November 28, 1894 at Mrs Whittles Natural Causes
Lilla Olophant female infant August 18, 1879 at Simpton[?] Pinns[?] Accident
Clara Bell colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Simon C. Wood[?] December 26, 1857 at Wm Calelaziers[?] Natural Causes
Mike negro man September 13, 1844 at Dr John D. Nicholsons Mill Accident
Jack negro boy May 14, 1852 at the house of H. W. Posey Accident
Fannie Patton November 18, 1898 at Francis Williams house Accident
John Matthews October 13, 1829 at the house of William Adams Other
Rufus Harling September 16, 1897 at Clarks Hill Homicide
Willie Toney March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Tom negro slave December 18, 1858 at Chlo Watsons Homicide
Pete slave October 31, 1864 at Liberty hill Unknown
W. W. Miller Sr. white man July 10, 1891 at J M. Mays place Accident
William Lundy August 28, 1846 at house of John Rainsford Accident
Nancy Slave June 19, 1847 at the house of Mrs G. Rily's Suicide
John H. Anderson March 21, 1891 at Tom Anderson place Homicide
white man white man October 21, 1849 in the woods near Holsonbakers[?] old fields Natural Causes
Ryal Negro Slave July 28, 1851 at Mr Thos McKies Batteau landing on Big Stephen's Creek Accident
Henry Jones September 21, 1855 Accident
William Bailey July 19, 1846 at the House of Samuel C Scott Homicide
John McManas December 4, 1883 at the Jail Accident
infant infant March 24, 1892 at Pinksville Homicide
Richmond slave March 3, 1857 at V[?] Elbert Blands residence at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Julia Mundy June 17, 1881 at Jas H Banknight Homicide
Milledge Denny colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Lizzy Rardon September 28, 1879 at Clansey Holloways plantation Accident
Wilson Griffin freedman February 13, 1867 at Luke Rodgers Homicide
Prince negro man October 27, 1844 at Mrs Elizabeth Timmermans Suicide
Allen Bauknight freedman June 11, 1866 at William Bauknights Accident
Flora Harrison November 4, 1890 at Liberty Hill Homicide
Lawrence Frazier child January 14, 1895 at D.B. Holingsworths Accident
Whit Terry October 19, 1894 J.K. Corleys Place Homicide
John McKinny September 26, 1894 at W P. Lipfords[?] Homicide
Warren Kirkland November 16, 1858 at Benjamin Bartons Homicide
Tandy Holmes September 21, 1894 at or on Dr. W.C. Prescotts Plantation Homicide
Lewis negro man March 20, 1846 at & in the Revd Mr. Brooks Plantation Accident
Fed Martin convict September 1, 1895 at Poor House and CH Unknown
Kenneth Martor[?] January 15, 1852 at Thomas Samar's[?] Mills on horse creek Accident

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