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 November 23, 1891 at the plantation of Willis Owdom[?] Accident
Ansabelle Brown October 21, 1866 near the Tambor[?] Soba[?] Rail Road Unknown
Mary female Slave January 13, 1853 at Isaac Bowles[?] Accident
Sindy Brighthop August 21, 1898 on S.W. Gardners place Homicide
Lovina negroe girl, a slave September 4, 1860 at Doct H M Folks[Faulk?] Suicide
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
Patrick Burns[?] November 4, 1858 at the residence of Richard Campbell Natural Causes
Victor male slave April 24, 1859 at A. L. Dearing Plantation Natural Causes
Charles slave July 31, 1851 at the house of John M. Norris Esqr in Edgefield Accident
Tandy Holmes September 21, 1894 at or on Dr. W.C. Prescotts Plantation Homicide
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
Jane Glover January 12, 1883 at Handy Tanks House on John Wir[?] plantation Unknown
Joe Weston January 31, 1895 in Edgefield County Homicide
Robert Johnston May 23, 1891 at Clarks Ferry below bridge on C. & G.[?] R R Accident
Joe slave, boy September 13, 1860 at the residence of D. M. Glover Homicide
Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place Natural Causes
Doublin male slave, boy April 5, 1857 at the Residence of Mrs Delila Philips Natural Causes
Sam Slave June 14, 1858 at Henry Spiers[?] Accident
George W. Medlock January 1, 1848 at the house of Daniel Abby Natural Causes
Charley Ryan May 9, 1892 at T. H. Ramsford Plantion Homicide
John E. Paul June 14, 1892 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Allen Bauknight freedman June 11, 1866 at William Bauknights Accident
Aggy Latily[?] negro woman slave June 21, 1848 at the plantation of N L Griffin Unknown
Isaac Jones July 1, 1881 at Ridge Spring Natural Causes
Enoch Douglass August 11, 1879 near Wesly Barrs on the rail road Accident
E. M. Whatley August 31, 1893 at E M Whatley's Suicide
Chaney negro woman December 11, 1855 at the dwelling house of Mrs Randall in the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
Tilman Attaway April 14, 1849 at the corner of the Oharer[?] old field Accident
Eunice Hogan October 26, 1851 at the house of John Briskey Homicide
Cap Bryan February 25, 1893 at the plantation of Mrs Doziers Accident
Robert slave, boy April 8, 1847 at Edward Hampton's Suicide
James Leppard February 13, 1893 at F. M. Leppards Natural Causes
John McManas December 4, 1883 at the Jail Accident
Pompy Robinson November 1, 1898 at Norris Place Natural Causes
infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House Natural Causes
Cesar Negro, negro boy July 7, 1843 at the house of Elijah Watson Homicide
infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman Natural Causes
John H. Anderson March 21, 1891 at Tom Anderson place Homicide
Moses Blalock May 19, 1882 on the Plantation of W G McDavid Homicide
Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill Natural Causes
Bob negro September 23, 1864 in the District Natural Causes
Joseph Moore Jr. April 19, 1846 at the house of Dr John D. Nicholson Natural Causes
Curry slave March 17, 1856 at Mrs Elizabeth Middletons Plantation Accident
Wade Barronton October 8, 1860 at Wade Barrontons Residence Natural Causes
infant infant January 10, 1898 at Johnston Homicide
Henry Jones September 21, 1855 Accident
Jim Coleman freidman November 15, 1866 at the Mackey Place on horse Creek Accident
H. P. Church December 27, 1842 in the house of C. H. Goodman in the Vilage of Edgefield Other
Elijah Flour[?] youth July 24, 1849 at the hous of Mrs Salley Spradley Accident
infant child infant child August 5, 1878 at the residence of H J Wright Homicide

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