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
George Watkins October 10, 1866 at George Watkins Homicide
Benjamin Cockroft March 18, 1847 in the woods near the house of Beryman[?] Bledsoe Accident
white man white man October 21, 1849 in the woods near Holsonbakers[?] old fields Natural Causes
William Bailey July 19, 1846 at the House of Samuel C Scott Homicide
infant child infant child April 14, 1895 at Charley Moors Homicide
Solomon negro man June 24, 1844 near the Mill of George A. McKee on Stevens Creek Accident
Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation Natural Causes
Silvy Nix January 1, 1891 Natural Causes
Minnie Johnson December 22, 1892 at John Bettis plantation Accident
Jack negro boy May 14, 1852 at the house of H. W. Posey Accident
Milledge Fuller freedman February 18, 1867 at John Ransford plantation Accident
Sis Bonham child February 18, 1894 at M.B. Davenports Accident
Infant Boy Child Colored Infant Boy Child Colored February 15, 1883 at the residence of Charles Coleman Unknown
Larrence Valentine December 28, 1893 at Mt[?] Willing Accident
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation Natural Causes
Henry Turner September 24, 1878 at Johnstons Homicide
Tephius[?] Cornwall January 14, 1845 on one of the Public Streets of the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
William Harlin February 19, 1856 at a new place sitting by Mr James Swearingem(Jr) on the Akien Road Accident
Sam Slave June 14, 1858 at Henry Spiers[?] Accident
Willie G. Harris March 25, 1897 at Edgefield CH Homicide
James Thomas colored July 20, 1869 at Liberty Hill County Homicide
Harry negro boy September 9, 1858 at the residence of the Rev. J. L. Brooks Accident
Tom Slave, old negro man January 12, 1853 near the residence of Harry Scott Accident
Joseph Riddle April 10, 1856 at Hamburg Homicide
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
Duke negro man March 25, 1855 near Dennis Carpenters Accident
Joe Weston January 31, 1895 in Edgefield County Homicide
Cooper slave March 17, 1852 at the plantation of L.H. Mundy decd Natural Causes
Thomas Prince July 31, 1848 at the Joal of Said District Natural Causes
Henry Ethredge June 2, 1899 at the plantation of P.B. Mayson Accident
Henry negro man June 3, 1849 at the house of Mrs Mary Harrison Accident
Jno. C Swearingin April 24, 1895 at Edgefield CH Homicide
infant child infant child July 24, 1892 at Promised Land School house Unknown
Sallie Young December 8, 1890 at Mr A. F Broadwaters Plantation Accident
Isham Glover August 9, 1892 at Edgefield C.H. Homicide
Edmund Brown December 24, 1853 at the house of Wm Merchantile[?] Homicide
Anderson B. Branham January 6, 1892 at the plantation of M. C. Parker Unknown
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
John Rufus Russell October 10, 1884 at John L Russell House Accident
Dick male slave July 13, 1859 at Ted Scurrys residence Accident
Charles M. Creswell August 5, 1869 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Dave Gillam August 25, 1892 at the house of Cal Smiths Homicide
William Anderson April 14, 1864 at the plantation of T.[?] S Boles Natural Causes
Richard J. Barton December 28, 1866 at Mrs Lucinda Bartons Accident
Bob negro September 23, 1864 in the District Natural Causes
Peter White March 11, 1898 at Jacob White upon the Plantation Silvester Chipley Homicide
Henry Parks September 14, 1895 at Parksville Homicide
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1857 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
John Whitlock boy September 8, 1869 at Grainteville Accident
Wesley male slave, child October 5, 1857 at the residence of Sophia A Tilman Homicide

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