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
Joseph Powel August 18, 1879 at [??] Accident
Duke negro man March 25, 1855 near Dennis Carpenters Accident
Richmond slave March 3, 1857 at V[?] Elbert Blands residence at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Thomas Prince July 31, 1848 at the Joal of Said District Natural Causes
Albert Jones April 29, 1885 at Pickens Reynolds house Homicide
Julia Hightower child November 9, 1890 at Mr Sam Marshes Place Accident
Belaus[Velaus?] slave, boy March 30, 1863 at Robert Smiths Accident
male baby male baby May 24, 1891 at the Saluda River Homicide
Kisiah Frazier December 17, 1893 at the plantation of T S Rainsforde Natural Causes
Susan Medlock April 7, 1894 at Johnston Homicide
Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place Natural Causes
Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm Natural Causes
William Padgett February 22, 1894 at W.D. Readys plantation Homicide
Everett Hook July 18, 1891 at the saw Mill of M J Hook Accident
Julia Banks September 4, 1891 at Mr Banks Plantation Natural Causes
Milledge Denny colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
John J. Cobb July 23, 1843 at William Elkins Mill Pond Suicide
Charity Johnson March 11, 1847 at the Residence of Charity Johnson, late deceased Natural Causes
infant child infant child July 24, 1892 at Promised Land School house Unknown
Rufus Harling September 16, 1897 at Clarks Hill Homicide
Lila Washington February 20, 1879 at Wesley Barns Mill Accident
Mahlon Jones December 25, 1891 at Landrams Farm Homicide
Willie Toney March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Alick Croker boy September 29, 1878 at Mrs. Marshes premises Accident
Charley Geeter October 27, 1881 at Violets Geeter's house Accident
Wesley male slave, child October 5, 1857 at the residence of Sophia A Tilman Homicide
Rose negro woman Slave March 14, 1846 at Michael Longs Homicide
Pink Williams October 6, 1898 at or near Mr E.F. Pickles residence Homicide
Infred Padgett July 12, 1848 at the Joal of Edgefield Natural Causes
Charles negro boy March 7, 1857 at Archy Clark residence Accident
Joshua negro man slave June 26, 1860 at Harmon Gallman Unknown
Larrence Valentine December 28, 1893 at Mt[?] Willing Accident
John H. Anderson March 21, 1891 at Tom Anderson place Homicide
Emaline Jackson August 27, 1894 at Dr Childs Plantation Natural Causes
Louisa Wooden October 13, 1893 at Mose Woden Accident
Lula Smith child June 22, 1894 at James A Satcher's Plantation Homicide
infant child infant child January 10, 1892 at Trenton Accident
James Perry December 27, 1894 at Mt Enon Church Accident
Lucius Walker October 5, 1869 at James Doziers plantation Accident
Gertrude infant child December 1, 1891 at Edgfield Court house Accident
Dave Gillam August 25, 1892 at the house of Cal Smiths Homicide
Stepney negro man September 29, 1848 at the Swamp Platation of Wiley Glover, decd on Savannah River Suicide
Minda negro girl August 17, 1851 at Mr Geo Robinsons Unknown
Sarah Scurry September 28, 1844 at the House of Sarah Scurry Suicide
Amanda Glover August 30, 1892 at Mr Pofse[?] Lotts Plantation Natural Causes
Charles slave July 31, 1851 at the house of John M. Norris Esqr in Edgefield Accident
infant child infant child November 23, 1891 at the plantation of Willis Owdom[?] Accident
Presley Wise July 11, 1891 at D W. Padgetts plantation Homicide
Lawrence Frazier child January 14, 1895 at D.B. Holingsworths Accident
Jane Glover January 12, 1883 at Handy Tanks House on John Wir[?] plantation Unknown

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