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
Wesley male slave, child October 5, 1857 at the residence of Sophia A Tilman Homicide
Henry Turner September 24, 1878 at Johnstons Homicide
Jacob Horn February 25, 1866 at the hous of Jacob Horns Homicide
Charles negro boy November 14, 1842 On Mr Thos Oliver's Plantation, at or near Said Oliver's residence Accident
Enoch Douglass August 11, 1879 near Wesly Barrs on the rail road Accident
Henry slave, boy May 1, 1857 at Arthur Glovers House, Horns Creek Accident
Mary Grace Aldrich infant child August 11, 1856 at Graniteville Homicide
Luther Sullivan October 26, 1898 near John Stuarts Homicide
Henry Ethredge June 2, 1899 at the plantation of P.B. Mayson Accident
Willie Toney March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
John H. Anderson March 21, 1891 at Tom Anderson place Homicide
Eva Blocker February 11, 1893 at J. P. Wrights Plantation Accident
Kenneth Martor[?] January 15, 1852 at Thomas Samar's[?] Mills on horse creek Accident
infant child infant child January 18, 1892 at the Plantation of L. G. Swearinger Accident
Larrence Valentine December 28, 1893 at Mt[?] Willing Accident
Elleck free boy December 13, 1866 at Johnathan Gregorys Accident
infant, child infant, child November 29, 1894 at the plantation of J. P. Roton Natural Causes
Dick male slave July 13, 1859 at Ted Scurrys residence Accident
Dave Gillam August 25, 1892 at the house of Cal Smiths Homicide
Thomas Prince July 31, 1848 at the Joal of Said District Natural Causes
Thomas Welheu[?] June 19, 1868 at Benjamin Better[?] wheat field on the Columbia & Augusta Rail Road Accident
Wade Barronton October 8, 1860 at Wade Barrontons Residence Natural Causes
Warren Kirkland November 16, 1858 at Benjamin Bartons Homicide
Sam slave, boy October 10, 1857 at the Carolina Hotel, Edgefield C.H. Unknown
John M. Tillman May 6, 1860 at Mr J.A Tillmans Steam Mill Homicide
Adam negro man Slave, boy August 3, 1850 at Vaucluse Factory Accident
William C. Goff May 7, 1865 at Bethany Church Accident
infant child infant child August 5, 1878 at the residence of H J Wright Homicide
James Mitchell February 18, 1879 at L D Laudrums Natural Causes
Peter Negro man December 30, 1859 at the Plantation of Mr Wm Bunch Accident
infant child infant child July 24, 1892 at Promised Land School house Unknown
John McManas December 4, 1883 at the Jail Accident
Lawrence Frazier child January 14, 1895 at D.B. Holingsworths Accident
Charley Geeter October 27, 1881 at Violets Geeter's house Accident
Pompy Robinson November 1, 1898 at Norris Place Natural Causes
Julia Hightower child November 9, 1890 at Mr Sam Marshes Place Accident
Thomas Rosseter[?] August 30, 1852 at Hamburg SC Accident
Sarah Lucas October 30, 1890 at Mr. M L Holson Accident
Milton Barter[?] youth August 24, 1849 at Capt. Andrew J Hammonds Mills Accident
Richard Stevens February 21, 1898 at Johnston S.C. Natural Causes
James Frazier Babie October 24, 1890 at D. B Hollingworth Accident
James Thomas colored July 20, 1869 at Liberty Hill County Homicide
Joseph Shaw July 26, 1858 at the residence of John H Shaw near Edgefield C.H. Accident
Infred Padgett July 12, 1848 at the Joal of Edgefield Natural Causes
Joseph Ruffington January 9, 1893 at Thos O Attaways Accident
Sis Bonham child February 18, 1894 at M.B. Davenports Accident
Henry Parks September 14, 1895 at Parksville Homicide
Henry Jones September 21, 1855 Accident
Jim slave June 10, 1859 at M, L, Bonham Esqr residence on the Pine House road Natural Causes
Lousay November 25, 1860 at Doct John E. Padgett Accident

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