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
Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill Natural Causes
Pompy Robinson November 1, 1898 at Norris Place Natural Causes
Rose three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
Toby negro man July 10, 1844 near Bauskett Bridge on Stevens Creek Accident
James Frazier Babie October 24, 1890 at D. B Hollingworth Accident
James L. Hill January 10, 1867 at James L Hills Accident
Everett Hook July 18, 1891 at the saw Mill of M J Hook Accident
George Watkins October 10, 1866 at George Watkins Homicide
Joel Etheridge November 29, 1893 at Joel Etheridge Residence Unknown
Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing Natural Causes
Unknown April 11, 1860 at or near W.J. Walkers Unknown
Nancy Slave June 19, 1847 at the house of Mrs G. Rily's Suicide
William Samuel April 26, 1891 at Scima[?] Hill Church Homicide
Isham Glover August 10, 1892 at Edgefield C.H. Homicide
James Leppard February 13, 1893 at F. M. Leppards Natural Causes
Sis Bonham child February 18, 1894 at M.B. Davenports Accident
Peyton Bird colored September 29, 1869 at Edgefield CH Natural Causes
Julia Banks September 4, 1891 at Mr Banks Plantation Natural Causes
James Reynolds December 20, 1860 at the residence of James Reynolds Homicide
Cap Bryan February 25, 1893 at the plantation of Mrs Doziers Accident
Patrick Burns[?] November 4, 1858 at the residence of Richard Campbell Natural Causes
Tom negro slave December 18, 1858 at Chlo Watsons Homicide
John Shumport[?] November 7, 1851 at John Shumports[?] Accident
John Webb March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Solomon negro man June 24, 1844 near the Mill of George A. McKee on Stevens Creek Accident
Joe Weston January 31, 1895 in Edgefield County Homicide
negro man negro man April 10, 1850 near Kilcreases Ferry Accident
William White December 10, 1898 at Savanah River Accident
Richard Lundy December 7, 1891 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Luther Harris May 26, 1899 at the plantation of George F Towns Homicide
infant child infant child January 10, 1892 at Trenton Accident
Gertrude infant child December 1, 1891 at Edgfield Court house Accident
Robert Reynolds July 30, 1892 at J.W. Reynolds Plantation Accident
A. P. Shultz January 9, 1850 at or near Solomon Clickleys[?] Unknown
A. R. Steel girl child August 28, 1869 at Graniteville Accident
Lewis negro man March 20, 1846 at & in the Revd Mr. Brooks Plantation Accident
Kenneth Martor[?] January 15, 1852 at Thomas Samar's[?] Mills on horse creek Accident
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
John McManas December 4, 1883 at the Jail Accident
James Perry December 27, 1894 at Mt Enon Church Accident
Kizziah[?] slave, servant March 11, 1860 at the residence of Mr M Lanham Natural Causes
Jack Taylor April 11, 1892 at the house of Hal[?] Miles Natural Causes
infant child infant child July 24, 1892 at Promised Land School house Unknown
David West boy January 30, 1862 at Graniteville Accident
William H Maharey May 25, 1863 at Haslin Factory on the Procelian Manufacturing Company Accident
infant child infant child December 14, 1877 at Dr. K N Hudsons plantation Homicide
Chaney negro woman December 11, 1855 at the dwelling house of Mrs Randall in the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
Ann Kimball September 4, 1895 at China grove church Homicide
Willie G. Harris March 25, 1897 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Fannie Patton November 18, 1898 at Francis Williams house Accident

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