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
infant child infant child September 9, 1891 at Wards Natural Causes
Al White October 12, 1898 at Mundy[?] Place Homicide
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
Whit Terry October 19, 1894 J.K. Corleys Place Homicide
Charley Ryan May 9, 1892 at T. H. Ramsford Plantion Homicide
George W. Medlock January 1, 1848 at the house of Daniel Abby Natural Causes
Willie G. Harris March 25, 1897 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Henry Ethredge June 2, 1899 at the plantation of P.B. Mayson Accident
Gus West October 11, 1883 at Jack Holms Unknown
Joe Weston January 31, 1895 in Edgefield County Homicide
Jno. C Swearingin April 24, 1895 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Lizzie Greeg July 4, 1884 at Capt Taliar[?] Hearin[?] Natural Causes
infant child infant child December 14, 1877 at Dr. K N Hudsons plantation Homicide
Violet negro woman (slave) March 25, 1844 at John Dinkinses Suicide
Bettie Willis March 24, 1892 at the Croker place the home of Miss Bettie Willis Natural Causes
Tilman Attaway April 14, 1849 at the corner of the Oharer[?] old field Accident
Wesley male slave, child October 5, 1857 at the residence of Sophia A Tilman Homicide
Hurnon[?] April 4, 1862 at Doct H R Cooks Plantation on Savanah River Unknown
Sarah Lucas October 30, 1890 at Mr. M L Holson Accident
Richard J. Barton December 28, 1866 at Mrs Lucinda Bartons Accident
William Perry January 7, 1894 in the county and state aforesaid Accident
Curry slave March 17, 1856 at Mrs Elizabeth Middletons Plantation Accident
Lucius Walker October 5, 1869 at James Doziers plantation Accident
Adam Barker August 10, 1879 at the Residence of Adam Barker Decd Suicide
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
Aggy Latily[?] negro woman slave June 21, 1848 at the plantation of N L Griffin Unknown
Lula Smith child June 22, 1894 at James A Satcher's Plantation Homicide
James Booth August 23, 1878 at E. C. House Homicide
Isaac Grimer December 10, 1868 at Jacobs Branch on the Spaun Church road Accident
Ansabelle Brown October 21, 1866 near the Tambor[?] Soba[?] Rail Road Unknown
Lizzie Darian child November 21, 1894 at Waldo Richardsons Accident
Joseph Moore Jr. April 19, 1846 at the house of Dr John D. Nicholson Natural Causes
Peter White March 11, 1898 at Jacob White upon the Plantation Silvester Chipley Homicide
Louisa Wooden October 13, 1893 at Mose Woden Accident
William Bailey July 19, 1846 at the House of Samuel C Scott Homicide
Mid[?] Griffin February 2, 1895 at the Govelace[?] Place Natural Causes
Isaac Oliphant November 9, 1882 at Ritch Thomson Accident
Mike negro man September 13, 1844 at Dr John D. Nicholsons Mill Accident
John Young June 27, 1891 at the residence of John Young Accident
Infant Boy Child Colored Infant Boy Child Colored February 15, 1883 at the residence of Charles Coleman Unknown
Mary Bright Hanpt[?] October 6, 1881 at Bright Hanpt[?] Unknown
Selena Allen child, boy, baby December 12, 1890 at Mrs Blacks[?] Plantation Accident
Toby negro man July 10, 1844 near Bauskett Bridge on Stevens Creek Accident
John Matthews October 13, 1829 at the house of William Adams Other
Everett Hook July 18, 1891 at the saw Mill of M J Hook Accident
Willis Cumings child October 10, 1890 at C. M. Lanhams Accident
Sallie Holmes December 20, 1893 at D. P. Bodies[?] Accident
A. G. Howard February 28, 1860 at Grannet Ville Depot Accident
Peyton Bird colored September 29, 1869 at Edgefield CH Natural Causes
Richmond slave March 3, 1857 at V[?] Elbert Blands residence at Edgefield Court House Homicide

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