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
Ras slave December 6, 1850 at D Dennys Mill Suicide
John Whitlock boy September 8, 1869 at Grainteville Accident
infant infant January 24, 1893 at Clintonwards Accident
Lovina negroe girl, a slave September 4, 1860 at Doct H M Folks[Faulk?] Suicide
Infant Boy Child Infant Boy Child June 18, 1883 at Marsh Grobe Yard Accident
Victor male slave April 24, 1859 at A. L. Dearing Plantation Natural Causes
Richard J. Barton December 28, 1866 at Mrs Lucinda Bartons Accident
Samuel Harrison February 18, 1881 at [inelligible - faded] Accident
Clara Bell colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Infant Boy Child Colored Infant Boy Child Colored February 15, 1883 at the residence of Charles Coleman Unknown
Adam Barker August 10, 1879 at the Residence of Adam Barker Decd Suicide
Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation Natural Causes
Jesse Moragna[?] March 3, 1882 at Luke Moragines[?] House Accident
Joseph W. Glover September 2, 1844 at Charles Comptys[?] Hotel Homicide
Lesthia Ridlehouse[Ridlehover?] January 5, 1892 at the Residence of Mrs Edny Mary Accident
H. P. Church December 27, 1842 in the house of C. H. Goodman in the Vilage of Edgefield Other
Gus Blocker August 18, 1892 at the plantion of July Blocker Homicide
Wesley male slave, child October 5, 1857 at the residence of Sophia A Tilman Homicide
Isham Glover August 9, 1892 at Edgefield C.H. Homicide
Peter White March 11, 1898 at Jacob White upon the Plantation Silvester Chipley Homicide
infant infant January 10, 1898 at Johnston Homicide
infant child infant child January 18, 1892 at the Plantation of L. G. Swearinger Accident
Emanuel slave March 12, 1856 at Matthew McGraw's plantation Accident
infant infant March 24, 1892 at Pinksville Homicide
Allen Holmes March 4, 1882 at Oscar Seigler Residence Homicide
James Perry December 27, 1894 at Mt Enon Church Accident
John H Webb January 22, 1882 at James Webb Residence Accident
Larrence Valentine December 28, 1893 at Mt[?] Willing Accident
Jack Taylor April 11, 1892 at the house of Hal[?] Miles Natural Causes
William M. Tredaway March 27, 1851 at the house of William M Tredaway at Beach Island Homicide
Unknown August 30, 1866 at Fosity[?] Creek ford Unknown
Milton Barter[?] youth August 24, 1849 at Capt. Andrew J Hammonds Mills Accident
Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing Natural Causes
Lidda Hampton November 24, 1893 at A Derrecks Natural Causes
Robert Johnston May 23, 1891 at Clarks Ferry below bridge on C. & G.[?] R R Accident
Ed Glover July 8, 1882 at Poore House Accident
Dilsey Seigler September 20, 1869 at Miles Mills Natural Causes
Tilman Attaway April 14, 1849 at the corner of the Oharer[?] old field Accident
Caroline Free negro August 26, 1858 four miles from Hamburg Unknown
Charles negro boy March 7, 1857 at Archy Clark residence Accident
Milledge Denny colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
John Rufus Russell October 10, 1884 at John L Russell House Accident
Apling negro man April 5, 1849 in the woods in said district near the Lexington line on a branch of McGier Creek Homicide
Thomas Glover August 2, 1893 at Bill Werk[?] Residence Homicide
Violet negro woman (slave) March 25, 1844 at John Dinkinses Suicide
W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place Natural Causes
Everett Hook July 18, 1891 at the saw Mill of M J Hook Accident
Wade Barronton October 8, 1860 at Wade Barrontons Residence Natural Causes
George Robinson January 12, 1892 at the plantation of E. B. Davis Natural Causes
Sarah Lucas October 30, 1890 at Mr. M L Holson Accident

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