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
Minnie Johnson December 22, 1892 at John Bettis plantation Accident
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
Joseph Riddle April 10, 1856 at Hamburg Homicide
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1858 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
Jesse Limbecker June 18, 1869 at Hamburg Accident
Lidia Watson January 26, 1894 at J E Macks Accident
John J. Cobb July 23, 1843 at William Elkins Mill Pond Suicide
Ras slave December 6, 1850 at D Dennys Mill Suicide
John H. Anderson March 21, 1891 at Tom Anderson place Homicide
Julia Hightower child November 9, 1890 at Mr Sam Marshes Place Accident
infant child infant child December 9, 1891 at a colored cemetary Accident
infant child infant child October 6, 1891 at her Residence Unknown
Pink Williams October 6, 1898 at or near Mr E.F. Pickles residence Homicide
Mary Gillam January 1, 1891 at Mrs Francis Wrights Plantation Natural Causes
Charles negro boy March 7, 1857 at Archy Clark residence Accident
Infred Padgett July 12, 1848 at the Joal of Edgefield Natural Causes
Fannie Patton November 18, 1898 at Francis Williams house Accident
Lewis slave May 21, 1861 at S. H. Roggers Suicide
Isham Glover August 10, 1892 at Edgefield C.H. Homicide
James Thomas colored July 20, 1869 at Liberty Hill County Homicide
Jesse Moragna[?] March 3, 1882 at Luke Moragines[?] House Accident
Enoch Douglass August 11, 1879 near Wesly Barrs on the rail road Accident
Wallace E. Bland July 4, 1880 at Edgefield C. House Homicide
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
Joe infant negro August 26, 1860 at John Huiets Accident
Ben Shubrick col December 24, 1869 at Negro heade Lane Natural Causes
William C. Goff May 7, 1865 at Bethany Church Accident
Susan Medlock April 7, 1894 at Johnston Homicide
Stepney negro man September 29, 1848 at the Swamp Platation of Wiley Glover, decd on Savannah River Suicide
Unknown August 30, 1866 at Fosity[?] Creek ford Unknown
William Padgett February 22, 1894 at W.D. Readys plantation Homicide
Tom negro boy February 5, 1853 at the late residence of Col Harling Quarles[?] deceased Natural Causes
Callen O'Neall November 11, 1855 at Luke Havirds[?] Accident
J. M. Long October 10, 1891 at J. M. Longs Homicide
David West boy January 30, 1862 at Graniteville Accident
Matt Loyd February 24, 1891 at Mr. Carmal cemetary near the Old Wills Natural Causes
Richmond slave March 3, 1857 at V[?] Elbert Blands residence at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Everett Hook July 18, 1891 at the saw Mill of M J Hook Accident
Ann Kimball September 4, 1895 at China grove church Homicide
Apling negro man April 5, 1849 in the woods in said district near the Lexington line on a branch of McGier Creek Homicide
Willie G. Harris March 25, 1897 at Edgefield CH Homicide
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
infant child infant child November 17, 1891 at Mr M Toneys place Unknown
infant child infant child August 5, 1878 at the residence of H J Wright Homicide
Adam Barker August 10, 1879 at the Residence of Adam Barker Decd Suicide
Flora Harrison November 4, 1890 at Liberty Hill Homicide
infant child infant child November 23, 1891 at the plantation of Willis Owdom[?] Accident
Jim Brown Child April 19, 1882 on Jasper Talbert Premises Unknown
Larrence Valentine December 28, 1893 at Mt[?] Willing Accident
Lula Smith child June 22, 1894 at James A Satcher's Plantation Homicide

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