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 J. Cobb July 23, 1843 at William Elkins Mill Pond Suicide
Julia Hightower child November 9, 1890 at Mr Sam Marshes Place Accident
infant child infant child January 10, 1892 at Trenton Accident
A. G. Leek February 23, 1859 at A. G. Leeks Residence Other
Ora Weaver February 21, 1891 at the plantation of D B. H Holfarth[illegible - ink blot] Accident
Lila Washington February 20, 1879 at Wesley Barns Mill Accident
Esther Jeter April 17, 1893 at Huiets x Roads Accident
B. C. Bryan March 16, 1884 at B C Bryan Residence Natural Causes
Apling negro man April 5, 1849 in the woods in said district near the Lexington line on a branch of McGier Creek Homicide
Sindy Brighthop August 21, 1898 on S.W. Gardners place Homicide
Albert Jones April 29, 1885 at Pickens Reynolds house Homicide
Enoch Douglass August 11, 1879 near Wesly Barrs on the rail road Accident
Robert Johnston May 23, 1891 at Clarks Ferry below bridge on C. & G.[?] R R Accident
infant, (male) infant, (male) April 29, 1857 at Potterville Homicide
infant infant March 24, 1892 at Pinksville Homicide
Cooper slave March 17, 1852 at the plantation of L.H. Mundy decd Natural Causes
John Shumport[?] November 7, 1851 at John Shumports[?] Accident
William M. Tredaway March 27, 1851 at the house of William M Tredaway at Beach Island Homicide
William Prince July 9, 1851 at the house of John W Garrett Accident
Stepney negro man September 29, 1848 at the Swamp Platation of Wiley Glover, decd on Savannah River Suicide
George Washington Crowder October 19, 1866 at Grannetville Accident
J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H. Natural Causes
infant child infant child April 14, 1895 at Charley Moors Homicide
Bettie Willis March 24, 1892 at the Croker place the home of Miss Bettie Willis Natural Causes
Anderson B. Branham January 6, 1892 at the plantation of M. C. Parker Unknown
Will Collens October 20, 1894 at Gaines SC Homicide
Allen Holmes March 4, 1882 at Oscar Seigler Residence Homicide
Thomas child of Thomas M Chandler September 11, 1850 at Thos M. Chandler's house, and at the old Pottery Accident
Isaac Jones July 1, 1881 at Ridge Spring Natural Causes
infant child infant child August 5, 1878 at the residence of H J Wright Homicide
Riller three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
James Leppard February 13, 1893 at F. M. Leppards Natural Causes
Nancy Slave June 19, 1847 at the house of Mrs G. Rily's Suicide
A. P. Shultz January 9, 1850 at or near Solomon Clickleys[?] Unknown
Tephius[?] Cornwall January 14, 1845 on one of the Public Streets of the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
Jacob Horn February 25, 1866 at the hous of Jacob Horns Homicide
Eddie Watson Infant April 25, 1892 at Bob Stevens Natural Causes
infant, child infant, child November 29, 1894 at the plantation of J. P. Roton Natural Causes
Ras slave December 6, 1850 at D Dennys Mill Suicide
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation Natural Causes
Isaac Grimer December 10, 1868 at Jacobs Branch on the Spaun Church road Accident
Mary Grace Aldrich infant child August 11, 1856 at Graniteville Homicide
Joseph Ruffington January 9, 1893 at Thos O Attaways Accident
Henry Ethredge June 2, 1899 at the plantation of P.B. Mayson Accident
Selena Allen child, boy, baby December 12, 1890 at Mrs Blacks[?] Plantation Accident
Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place Natural Causes
Rose negro woman Slave March 14, 1846 at Michael Longs Homicide
Gertrude infant child December 1, 1891 at Edgfield Court house Accident
Adam Barker August 10, 1879 at the Residence of Adam Barker Decd Suicide
Rose three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide

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