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
Henry Turner September 24, 1878 at Johnstons Homicide
Levi H. McDaniel March 9, 1859 at or near the 17 mile Post on the Scotts Ferry Road Homicide
Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill Natural Causes
Blanchy Wilson November 30, 1893 on the plantation of Robert Hastings Accident
Jim slave June 10, 1859 at M, L, Bonham Esqr residence on the Pine House road Natural Causes
William Padgett February 22, 1894 at W.D. Readys plantation Homicide
Infant Boy Child Colored Infant Boy Child Colored February 15, 1883 at the residence of Charles Coleman Unknown
Mary Grace Aldrich infant child August 11, 1856 at Graniteville Homicide
John slave September 27, 1863 at the residence of Johnson A Bland Accident
Selena Allen child, boy, baby December 12, 1890 at Mrs Blacks[?] Plantation Accident
Peter White March 11, 1898 at Jacob White upon the Plantation Silvester Chipley Homicide
Minda negro girl August 17, 1851 at Mr Geo Robinsons Unknown
Tom Waldrum colored man (Free) January 20, 1857 in the woods near Mr Avory Franklins Accident
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
infant child infant child November 23, 1891 at the plantation of Willis Owdom[?] Accident
Joe infant negro August 26, 1860 at John Huiets Accident
Harriet negro woman July 20, 1859 at the residence of JB Rease Natural Causes
Jim McKie October 26, 1898 near John starks Homicide
Martin B. Elam January 28, 1851 at Mrs Mary Elams Other
Anderson B. Branham January 6, 1892 at the plantation of M. C. Parker Unknown
infant child infant child April 14, 1895 at Charley Moors Homicide
Jim Brown Child April 19, 1882 on Jasper Talbert Premises Unknown
Frank Milton child January 26, 1894 at Sanders Loricks Natural Causes
Thomas Prince July 31, 1848 at the Joal of Said District Natural Causes
Henry Parks September 14, 1895 at Parksville Homicide
Sam negro, slave September 18, 1846 at the residence of Mrs Nancy Delaughter Natural Causes
Milledge Fuller freedman February 18, 1867 at John Ransford plantation Accident
negro man negro man April 10, 1850 near Kilcreases Ferry Accident
male baby male baby May 24, 1891 at the Saluda River Homicide
George Hatcher freedman June 19, 1867 at B. W. Hatchers Mill on Shaws creek Natural Causes
Lula Smith child June 22, 1894 at James A Satcher's Plantation Homicide
John Rufus Russell October 10, 1884 at John L Russell House Accident
Victor male slave April 24, 1859 at A. L. Dearing Plantation Natural Causes
infant child infant child June 14, 1891 at Kenny Grave Yard Accident
Joe Weston January 31, 1895 in Edgefield County Homicide
John Henry King October 29, 1865 in Hamburg Homicide
Lilla Olophant female infant August 18, 1879 at Simpton[?] Pinns[?] Accident
William Harlin February 19, 1856 at a new place sitting by Mr James Swearingem(Jr) on the Akien Road Accident
Apling negro man April 5, 1849 in the woods in said district near the Lexington line on a branch of McGier Creek Homicide
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation Natural Causes
John E. Paul June 14, 1892 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Charles slave, boy September 25, 1861 at Elijah Watson Homicide
Milton Barter[?] youth August 24, 1849 at Capt. Andrew J Hammonds Mills Accident
Joe slave, boy September 13, 1860 at the residence of D. M. Glover Homicide
George Ross June 29, 1898 at Adoms[?] place Homicide
Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place Natural Causes
Henry Ethredge June 2, 1899 at the plantation of P.B. Mayson Accident
Ansabelle Brown October 21, 1866 near the Tambor[?] Soba[?] Rail Road Unknown
Infred Padgett July 12, 1848 at the Joal of Edgefield Natural Causes
J. B. Whittle November 28, 1894 at Mrs Whittles Natural Causes

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