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
John Matthews October 13, 1829 at the house of William Adams Other
Nancy Weaver December 20, 1893 at Edgefield Court House Accident
R. Mackgrath January 5, 1852 at the house of John Dobey Other
Richmond slave March 3, 1857 at V[?] Elbert Blands residence at Edgefield Court House Homicide
William Anderson April 14, 1864 at the plantation of T.[?] S Boles Natural Causes
Mary Bright Hanpt[?] October 6, 1881 at Bright Hanpt[?] Unknown
William C. Goff May 7, 1865 at Bethany Church Accident
Lidia Watson January 26, 1894 at J E Macks Accident
Warren Kirkland November 16, 1858 at Benjamin Bartons Homicide
infant child infant child January 10, 1892 at Trenton Accident
Ben Shubrick col December 24, 1869 at Negro heade Lane Natural Causes
Eldrige Padgett February 9, 1859 at Eidson Padgetts Accident
James Perry December 27, 1894 at Mt Enon Church Accident
Berry Butler October 9, 1892 at J. H Lagroons[?] plantation Accident
Sam Slave June 14, 1858 at Henry Spiers[?] Accident
Ed Glover July 8, 1882 at Poore House Accident
infant male child infant male child January 3, 1894 in Edgefield County Natural Causes
Charles negro boy November 14, 1842 On Mr Thos Oliver's Plantation, at or near Said Oliver's residence Accident
J. M. Long October 10, 1891 at J. M. Longs Homicide
Fannie Patton November 18, 1898 at Francis Williams house Accident
Tom negro boy February 5, 1853 at the late residence of Col Harling Quarles[?] deceased Natural Causes
Harry negro boy September 9, 1858 at the residence of the Rev. J. L. Brooks Accident
Henry negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at New Savannah in beach Island Accident
Reubin Weaver December 28, 1895 at Elijah Boatwrights Plantation Natural Causes
H. P. Church December 27, 1842 in the house of C. H. Goodman in the Vilage of Edgefield Other
John Brown December 20, 1844 at the house of John Brown Natural Causes
Wade Barronton October 8, 1860 at Wade Barrontons Residence Natural Causes
John H Webb January 22, 1882 at James Webb Residence Accident
Ras slave December 6, 1850 at D Dennys Mill Suicide
Susan Medlock April 7, 1894 at Johnston Homicide
Charles negro boy March 7, 1857 at Archy Clark residence Accident
J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H. Natural Causes
Ann Kimball September 4, 1895 at China grove church Homicide
Nancy Slave June 19, 1847 at the house of Mrs G. Rily's Suicide
B. J. Mims January 20, 1885 at the Residence of Capt B J Mims Natural Causes
Charly Washington boy November 22, 1891 at the house of George Washington near Bauknights ferry Accident
Bob negro September 23, 1864 in the District Natural Causes
Tephius[?] Cornwall January 14, 1845 on one of the Public Streets of the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
Adam negro man Slave, boy August 3, 1850 at Vaucluse Factory Accident
Silvy Nix January 1, 1891 Natural Causes
Pompy Robinson November 1, 1898 at Norris Place Natural Causes
John Hester May 13, 1846 at Hamburg in the shop of J.J. Kenedy Accident
Joseph Powel August 18, 1879 at [??] Accident
Joseph Riddle April 10, 1856 at Hamburg Homicide
Violet negro woman (slave) March 25, 1844 at John Dinkinses Suicide
Ned Dozier September 27, 1893 at MJ Holsteins Homicide
Daniel slave, boy April 28, 1859 at L. Halls Tisery[?] Suicide
Solomon Ellenberg February 18, 1859 near the Residence of G.M. Ouzts[?] Suicide
Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation Natural Causes
James Mitchell February 18, 1879 at L D Laudrums Natural Causes

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