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
Tephius[?] Cornwall January 14, 1845 on one of the Public Streets of the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
Patrick Burns[?] November 4, 1858 at the residence of Richard Campbell Natural Causes
Lucius Walker October 5, 1869 at James Doziers plantation Accident
Charley Geeter October 27, 1881 at Violets Geeter's house Accident
Curry slave March 17, 1856 at Mrs Elizabeth Middletons Plantation Accident
Peter Negro man December 30, 1859 at the Plantation of Mr Wm Bunch Accident
Amanda Glover August 30, 1892 at Mr Pofse[?] Lotts Plantation Natural Causes
John Webb March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Pompy Robinson November 1, 1898 at Norris Place Natural Causes
Esther Jeter April 17, 1893 at Huiets x Roads Accident
John Whitlock boy September 8, 1869 at Grainteville Accident
E. M. Whatley August 31, 1893 at E M Whatley's Suicide
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1857 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
Kenneth Martor[?] January 15, 1852 at Thomas Samar's[?] Mills on horse creek Accident
Violet negro woman (slave) March 25, 1844 at John Dinkinses Suicide
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1858 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place Natural Causes
Caroline Free negro August 26, 1858 four miles from Hamburg Unknown
infant child infant child June 14, 1891 at Kenny Grave Yard Accident
A. G. Leek February 23, 1859 at A. G. Leeks Residence Other
Sarah Scurry September 28, 1844 at the House of Sarah Scurry Suicide
John slave September 27, 1863 at the residence of Johnson A Bland Accident
Ansabelle Brown October 21, 1866 near the Tambor[?] Soba[?] Rail Road Unknown
Milledge Fuller freedman February 18, 1867 at John Ransford plantation Accident
Stepney negro man September 29, 1848 at the Swamp Platation of Wiley Glover, decd on Savannah River Suicide
Riller three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
Lila Washington February 20, 1879 at Wesley Barns Mill Accident
A. P. Shultz January 9, 1850 at or near Solomon Clickleys[?] Unknown
Charles M. Creswell August 5, 1869 at Edgefield CH Homicide
James Mitchell February 18, 1879 at L D Laudrums Natural Causes
infant, (male) infant, (male) April 29, 1857 at Potterville Homicide
Chaney negro woman December 11, 1855 at the dwelling house of Mrs Randall in the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
Peyton Bird colored September 29, 1869 at Edgefield CH Natural Causes
B. C. Bryan March 16, 1884 at B C Bryan Residence Natural Causes
Hardy Boulware January 2, 1862 at Hardy Boulwares Homicide
infant infant December 15, 1892 at Mr. Pleasant Grave Yard Accident
Moses Blalock May 19, 1882 on the Plantation of W G McDavid Homicide
Berry Butler October 9, 1892 at J. H Lagroons[?] plantation Accident
Cooper slave March 17, 1852 at the plantation of L.H. Mundy decd Natural Causes
Clem slave, boy October 3, 1858 at Tabitha Abney's Accident
Fannie Patton November 18, 1898 at Francis Williams house Accident
William White December 10, 1898 at Savanah River Accident
Will Collens October 20, 1894 at Gaines SC Homicide
Elijah Sullivan April 24, 1898 at Cow-buel[?] place Accident
Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing Natural Causes
Nancy Weaver December 20, 1893 at Edgefield Court House Accident
Thomas Rosseter[?] August 30, 1852 at Hamburg SC Accident
Fed Martin convict September 1, 1895 at Poor House and CH Unknown
Joe infant negro August 26, 1860 at John Huiets Accident
William H Maharey May 25, 1863 at Haslin Factory on the Procelian Manufacturing Company Accident

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