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
Nancy Slave June 19, 1847 at the house of Mrs G. Rily's Suicide
Victor male slave April 24, 1859 at A. L. Dearing Plantation Natural Causes
infant child infant child September 15, 1861 at the residence of Mrs Margret Willis Accident
Doublin male slave, boy April 5, 1857 at the Residence of Mrs Delila Philips Natural Causes
Milledge Denny colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Jesse Moragna[?] March 3, 1882 at Luke Moragines[?] House Accident
Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation Natural Causes
Enoch Douglass August 11, 1879 near Wesly Barrs on the rail road Accident
James Leppard February 13, 1893 at F. M. Leppards Natural Causes
Blanchy Wilson November 30, 1893 on the plantation of Robert Hastings Accident
John M. Tillman May 6, 1860 at Mr J.A Tillmans Steam Mill Homicide
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation Natural Causes
infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman Natural Causes
A. G. Howard February 28, 1860 at Grannet Ville Depot Accident
Matt Loyd February 24, 1891 at Mr. Carmal cemetary near the Old Wills Natural Causes
Everett Hook July 18, 1891 at the saw Mill of M J Hook Accident
Milton Barter[?] youth August 24, 1849 at Capt. Andrew J Hammonds Mills Accident
Lewis negro man March 20, 1846 at & in the Revd Mr. Brooks Plantation Accident
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
Tilman Attaway April 14, 1849 at the corner of the Oharer[?] old field Accident
Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill Natural Causes
Charles slave July 31, 1851 at the house of John M. Norris Esqr in Edgefield Accident
William Lundy August 28, 1846 at house of John Rainsford Accident
infant child infant child August 5, 1878 at the residence of H J Wright Homicide
male baby male baby May 24, 1891 at the Saluda River Homicide
Jim slave June 10, 1859 at M, L, Bonham Esqr residence on the Pine House road Natural Causes
Lizzy Rardon September 28, 1879 at Clansey Holloways plantation Accident
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
Jim Coleman freidman November 15, 1866 at the Mackey Place on horse Creek Accident
Henry Jennings September 14, 1891 at the residense of diceased Natural Causes
Levi S. Mathews July 13, 1892 at G. C. Wheerles[?] Residence Natural Causes
Garett Doby October 11, 1880 at William Rufus Natural Causes
Wade Medlock July 12, 1894 at Benjamin Boatwrights Plantation Unknown
Alexander P. Kennard February 16, 1847 in the District Natural Causes
infant child infant child January 10, 1892 at Trenton Accident
Robert Reynolds July 30, 1892 at J.W. Reynolds Plantation Accident
infant child infant child June 14, 1891 at Kenny Grave Yard Accident
Blassingame Wise April 27, 1848 at or near the Negro quarter of Mrs Wiley Glover, on Savannah River Suicide
John Whitlock boy September 8, 1869 at Grainteville Accident
John J. Cobb July 23, 1843 at William Elkins Mill Pond Suicide
Lovina negroe girl, a slave September 4, 1860 at Doct H M Folks[Faulk?] Suicide
negro man negro man April 10, 1850 near Kilcreases Ferry Accident
Eunice Hogan October 26, 1851 at the house of John Briskey Homicide
Duke negro man March 25, 1855 near Dennis Carpenters Accident
Thomas child of Thomas M Chandler September 11, 1850 at Thos M. Chandler's house, and at the old Pottery Accident
infant child infant child January 18, 1892 at the Plantation of L. G. Swearinger Accident
Adam Barker August 10, 1879 at the Residence of Adam Barker Decd Suicide
George Hatcher freedman June 19, 1867 at B. W. Hatchers Mill on Shaws creek Natural Causes
Willis Asbell December 7, 1877 at Ridge Spring Homicide
William Samuel April 26, 1891 at Scima[?] Hill Church Homicide

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