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 infant December 15, 1892 at Mr. Pleasant Grave Yard Accident
Isaac Jones July 1, 1881 at Ridge Spring Natural Causes
Louisa Wooden October 13, 1893 at Mose Woden Accident
Harriet negro woman July 20, 1859 at the residence of JB Rease Natural Causes
David West boy January 30, 1862 at Graniteville Accident
Charly Washington boy November 22, 1891 at the house of George Washington near Bauknights ferry Accident
Mary Bright Hanpt[?] October 6, 1881 at Bright Hanpt[?] Unknown
Sis Bonham child February 18, 1894 at M.B. Davenports Accident
Tom negro slave December 18, 1858 at Chlo Watsons Homicide
Dave Gillam August 25, 1892 at the house of Cal Smiths Homicide
J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H. Natural Causes
Ansabelle Brown October 21, 1866 near the Tambor[?] Soba[?] Rail Road Unknown
Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation Natural Causes
Henry Turner September 24, 1878 at Johnstons Homicide
James Mitchell February 18, 1879 at L D Laudrums Natural Causes
William Lundy August 28, 1846 at house of John Rainsford Accident
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1858 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
Jim Coleman freidman November 15, 1866 at the Mackey Place on horse Creek Accident
Lizzie Darian child November 21, 1894 at Waldo Richardsons Accident
Rebeca Eidson May 29, 1861 at the Residence of William Eidson Natural Causes
J. E. Black May 8, 1861 at the Residence of J. E. Black Other
infant infant May 5, 1893 at F. L. Foys Natural Causes
William Perry January 7, 1894 in the county and state aforesaid Accident
Unknown April 11, 1860 at or near W.J. Walkers Unknown
Elleck free boy December 13, 1866 at Johnathan Gregorys Accident
Joe Weston January 31, 1895 in Edgefield County Homicide
Jack negro boy May 14, 1852 at the house of H. W. Posey Accident
Lovina negroe girl, a slave September 4, 1860 at Doct H M Folks[Faulk?] Suicide
John H Webb January 22, 1882 at James Webb Residence Accident
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
infant child infant child December 14, 1877 at Dr. K N Hudsons plantation Homicide
Charles negro boy November 14, 1842 On Mr Thos Oliver's Plantation, at or near Said Oliver's residence Accident
infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman Natural Causes
Sallie Young December 8, 1890 at Mr A. F Broadwaters Plantation Accident
Howard Gale June 13, 1879 at Jacksons Holinns[?] Mill Accident
Joe infant negro August 26, 1860 at John Huiets Accident
James L. Hill January 10, 1867 at James L Hills Accident
Mary Harrison September 10, 1894 at Dornville Accident
Belaus[Velaus?] slave, boy March 30, 1863 at Robert Smiths Accident
Pink Williams October 6, 1898 at or near Mr E.F. Pickles residence Homicide
Sallie Holmes December 20, 1893 at D. P. Bodies[?] Accident
A. R. Steel girl child August 28, 1869 at Graniteville Accident
Pete slave October 31, 1864 at Liberty hill Unknown
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
Ned Dozier September 27, 1893 at MJ Holsteins Homicide
James Edward Settle boy March 9, 1884 on Henry Hill Plantation Accident
A. G. Leek February 23, 1859 at A. G. Leeks Residence Other
Infant Boy Child Colored Infant Boy Child Colored February 15, 1883 at the residence of Charles Coleman Unknown
Eddie Watson Infant April 25, 1892 at Bob Stevens Natural Causes
Adam negro man Slave, boy August 3, 1850 at Vaucluse Factory Accident

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