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
James Perry December 27, 1894 at Mt Enon Church Accident
Willie G. Harris March 25, 1897 at Edgefield CH Homicide
James Edward Settle boy March 9, 1884 on Henry Hill Plantation Accident
Rebeca Eidson May 29, 1861 at the Residence of William Eidson Natural Causes
Jack Taylor April 11, 1892 at the house of Hal[?] Miles Natural Causes
Joe Weston January 31, 1895 in Edgefield County Homicide
Joe Elam February 16, 1882 at Nicholson premises Natural Causes
Elmira Jackson May 18, 1884 at George Holingsworths House Accident
Emanuel slave March 12, 1856 at Matthew McGraw's plantation Accident
J. M. Long October 10, 1891 at J. M. Longs Homicide
Matt Loyd February 24, 1891 at Mr. Carmal cemetary near the Old Wills Natural Causes
James Frazier Babie October 24, 1890 at D. B Hollingworth Accident
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
Warren Kirkland November 16, 1858 at Benjamin Bartons Homicide
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
infant child infant child November 17, 1891 at Mr M Toneys place Unknown
infant child infant child September 15, 1861 at the residence of Mrs Margret Willis Accident
William M. Tredaway March 27, 1851 at the house of William M Tredaway at Beach Island Homicide
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1857 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
John Hester May 13, 1846 at Hamburg in the shop of J.J. Kenedy Accident
Whit Terry October 19, 1894 J.K. Corleys Place Homicide
Ras slave December 6, 1850 at D Dennys Mill Suicide
Emaline Jackson August 27, 1894 at Dr Childs Plantation Natural Causes
Tom Slave, old negro man January 12, 1853 near the residence of Harry Scott Accident
Charly Washington boy November 22, 1891 at the house of George Washington near Bauknights ferry Accident
Peter White March 11, 1898 at Jacob White upon the Plantation Silvester Chipley Homicide
J. F. Styron April 21, 1891 at residence of J. F. Styron[?] Accident
Ernest Bean April 6, 1884 at the Mill of B[?] Hill Accident
infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman Natural Causes
Pompy Robinson November 1, 1898 at Norris Place Natural Causes
Elick Youngblood child March 21, 1881 at S[?] R Warren Homicide
Tom Waldrum colored man (Free) January 20, 1857 in the woods near Mr Avory Franklins Accident
Moses Blalock May 19, 1882 on the Plantation of W G McDavid Homicide
Garett Doby October 11, 1880 at William Rufus Natural Causes
Luther Harris May 26, 1899 at the plantation of George F Towns Homicide
Anderson B. Branham January 6, 1892 at the plantation of M. C. Parker Unknown
John Whitlock boy September 8, 1869 at Grainteville Accident
Abram negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at Henry L Maysons Accident
David West boy January 30, 1862 at Graniteville Accident
Edmond Price April 30, 1892 at Kennys Graveyard Unknown
Lucius Walker October 5, 1869 at James Doziers plantation Accident
A. P. Shultz January 9, 1850 at or near Solomon Clickleys[?] Unknown
Mike negro man September 13, 1844 at Dr John D. Nicholsons Mill Accident
Charles slave July 31, 1851 at the house of John M. Norris Esqr in Edgefield Accident
Lizzy Rardon September 28, 1879 at Clansey Holloways plantation Accident
John David Twiggs September 15, 1864 in Hamburg Homicide
Lizzie Darian child November 21, 1894 at Waldo Richardsons Accident
Unknown August 30, 1866 at Fosity[?] Creek ford Unknown
William Prince July 9, 1851 at the house of John W Garrett Accident

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