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
Thomas Glover August 2, 1893 at Bill Werk[?] Residence Homicide
Benjamin Cockroft March 18, 1847 in the woods near the house of Beryman[?] Bledsoe Accident
Willie G. Harris March 25, 1897 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Presley Wise July 11, 1891 at D W. Padgetts plantation Homicide
Jesse Moragna[?] March 3, 1882 at Luke Moragines[?] House Accident
Abram negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at Henry L Maysons Accident
infant child infant child April 14, 1895 at Charley Moors Homicide
Joseph Riddle April 10, 1856 at Hamburg Homicide
James Booth August 23, 1878 at E. C. House Homicide
Henry negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at New Savannah in beach Island Accident
Lona May Hamilton child October 18, 1893 at or near Longmires PO[?] Natural Causes
Callen O'Neall November 11, 1855 at Luke Havirds[?] Accident
Warren Kirkland November 16, 1858 at Benjamin Bartons Homicide
Susan Churchwell October 6, 1884 at Allen Simkins House Unknown
Charles negro boy November 14, 1842 On Mr Thos Oliver's Plantation, at or near Said Oliver's residence Accident
Flora Harrison November 4, 1890 at Liberty Hill Homicide
Hurnon[?] April 4, 1862 at Doct H R Cooks Plantation on Savanah River Unknown
Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill Natural Causes
Sallie Busch August 21, 1892 at Lewis Beans plantation Natural Causes
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
Tom negro boy February 5, 1853 at the late residence of Col Harling Quarles[?] deceased Natural Causes
John Brown December 20, 1844 at the house of John Brown Natural Causes
infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House Natural Causes
J. M. Long October 10, 1891 at J. M. Longs Homicide
Lidia Watson January 26, 1894 at J E Macks Accident
Isham Glover August 9, 1892 at Edgefield C.H. Homicide
Al White October 12, 1898 at Mundy[?] Place Homicide
infant child infant child January 18, 1892 at the Plantation of L. G. Swearinger Accident
Peter White March 11, 1898 at Jacob White upon the Plantation Silvester Chipley Homicide
Anderson B. Branham January 6, 1892 at the plantation of M. C. Parker Unknown
Tom negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at H. L. Maysons in Beach island Accident
Henry Ethredge June 2, 1899 at the plantation of P.B. Mayson Accident
Henry Turner September 24, 1878 at Johnstons Homicide
Willie Toney March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Julia Banks September 4, 1891 at Mr Banks Plantation Natural Causes
Lilla Olophant female infant August 18, 1879 at Simpton[?] Pinns[?] Accident
Belaus[Velaus?] slave, boy March 30, 1863 at Robert Smiths Accident
Patrick Burns[?] November 4, 1858 at the residence of Richard Campbell Natural Causes
John Shumport[?] November 7, 1851 at John Shumports[?] Accident
Rose negro woman Slave March 14, 1846 at Michael Longs Homicide
Adam negro man Slave, boy August 3, 1850 at Vaucluse Factory Accident
A. G. Howard February 28, 1860 at Grannet Ville Depot Accident
infant child infant child September 9, 1891 at Wards Natural Causes
negro man negro man April 10, 1850 near Kilcreases Ferry Accident
Jim McKie October 26, 1898 near John starks Homicide
Duke negro man March 25, 1855 near Dennis Carpenters Accident
E. M. Whatley August 31, 1893 at E M Whatley's Suicide
John Hester May 13, 1846 at Hamburg in the shop of J.J. Kenedy Accident
Pink Williams October 6, 1898 at or near Mr E.F. Pickles residence Homicide
Albert Jones April 29, 1885 at Pickens Reynolds house Homicide

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