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
William Lundy August 28, 1846 at house of John Rainsford Accident
John McManas December 4, 1883 at the Jail Accident
Riller three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
infant child infant child September 15, 1861 at the residence of Mrs Margret Willis Accident
Alick Croker boy September 29, 1878 at Mrs. Marshes premises Accident
Wesley male slave, child October 5, 1857 at the residence of Sophia A Tilman Homicide
A. P. Shultz January 9, 1850 at or near Solomon Clickleys[?] Unknown
Moses Blalock May 19, 1882 on the Plantation of W G McDavid Homicide
Jacob Horn February 25, 1866 at the hous of Jacob Horns Homicide
Jesse Moragna[?] March 3, 1882 at Luke Moragines[?] House Accident
Emanuel slave March 12, 1856 at Matthew McGraw's plantation Accident
Wilson Griffin freedman February 13, 1867 at Luke Rodgers Homicide
Nelson Smith freedman, boy October 4, 1866 at Andrew Warts Homicide
Charity Johnson March 11, 1847 at the Residence of Charity Johnson, late deceased Natural Causes
Henry Padget freedman November 14, 1866 at Wm Padgets premises on Clouds Creek Homicide
George Robinson January 12, 1892 at the plantation of E. B. Davis Natural Causes
male baby male baby May 24, 1891 at the Saluda River Homicide
Isaac Grimer December 10, 1868 at Jacobs Branch on the Spaun Church road Accident
Albert Jones April 29, 1885 at Pickens Reynolds house Homicide
Hurnon[?] April 4, 1862 at Doct H R Cooks Plantation on Savanah River Unknown
Henry Ethredge June 2, 1899 at the plantation of P.B. Mayson Accident
Pete slave October 31, 1864 at Liberty hill Unknown
Charles negro man February 27, 1850 at Scotts Shoals on Savannah River Accident
Unknown August 30, 1866 at Fosity[?] Creek ford Unknown
Mahlon Jones December 25, 1891 at Landrams Farm Homicide
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
John Shumport[?] November 7, 1851 at John Shumports[?] Accident
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation Natural Causes
infant infant December 15, 1892 at Mr. Pleasant Grave Yard Accident
David West boy January 30, 1862 at Graniteville Accident
William H Maharey May 25, 1863 at Haslin Factory on the Procelian Manufacturing Company Accident
Rose negro woman Slave March 14, 1846 at Michael Longs Homicide
Rose three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
Jane Glover January 12, 1883 at Handy Tanks House on John Wir[?] plantation Unknown
white man white man October 21, 1849 in the woods near Holsonbakers[?] old fields Natural Causes
Tom negro slave December 18, 1858 at Chlo Watsons Homicide
Mingo Mosley January 13, 1883 at Samuel[?] Corley's Accident
Sam slave, boy October 10, 1857 at the Carolina Hotel, Edgefield C.H. Unknown
Caroline Free negro August 26, 1858 four miles from Hamburg Unknown
Elmira Jackson May 18, 1884 at George Holingsworths House Accident
Tom Waldrum colored man (Free) January 20, 1857 in the woods near Mr Avory Franklins Accident
Henry slave, boy May 1, 1857 at Arthur Glovers House, Horns Creek Accident
Albert Watson June 15, 1892 at the plantation of W.B. Maffett Natural Causes
Benjamin Cockroft March 18, 1847 in the woods near the house of Beryman[?] Bledsoe Accident
Sarah Scurry September 28, 1844 at the House of Sarah Scurry Suicide
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1858 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
Milledge Fuller freedman February 18, 1867 at John Ransford plantation Accident
Julia Hightower child November 9, 1890 at Mr Sam Marshes Place Accident
Ryal Negro Slave July 28, 1851 at Mr Thos McKies Batteau landing on Big Stephen's Creek Accident
Eddie Watson Infant April 25, 1892 at Bob Stevens Natural Causes

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