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
Infant Boy Child Infant Boy Child June 18, 1883 at Marsh Grobe Yard Accident
Clara Bell colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Chaney negro woman December 11, 1855 at the dwelling house of Mrs Randall in the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
William Prince July 9, 1851 at the house of John W Garrett Accident
Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation Natural Causes
infant infant March 24, 1892 at Pinksville Homicide
Bob negro September 23, 1864 in the District Natural Causes
Lousay November 25, 1860 at Doct John E. Padgett Accident
Emanuel slave March 12, 1856 at Matthew McGraw's plantation Accident
A. R. Steel girl child August 28, 1869 at Graniteville Accident
Isham Glover August 10, 1892 at Edgefield C.H. Homicide
William Lundy August 28, 1846 at house of John Rainsford Accident
John Young June 27, 1891 at the residence of John Young Accident
George Robinson January 12, 1892 at the plantation of E. B. Davis Natural Causes
infant infant January 24, 1893 at Clintonwards Accident
Ernest Bean April 6, 1884 at the Mill of B[?] Hill Accident
Daniel slave, boy April 28, 1859 at L. Halls Tisery[?] Suicide
Joel W. Warren November 9, 1894 at Joseph Mirren[?] House Natural Causes
Kenneth Martor[?] January 15, 1852 at Thomas Samar's[?] Mills on horse creek Accident
Wade Barronton October 8, 1860 at Wade Barrontons Residence Natural Causes
Curry slave March 17, 1856 at Mrs Elizabeth Middletons Plantation Accident
Peyton Bird colored September 29, 1869 at Edgefield CH Natural Causes
Ed Glover July 8, 1882 at Poore House Accident
Milledge Denny colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Mary Grace Aldrich infant child August 11, 1856 at Graniteville Homicide
Willie Toney March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Isaac Grimer December 10, 1868 at Jacobs Branch on the Spaun Church road Accident
Sallie Young December 8, 1890 at Mr A. F Broadwaters Plantation Accident
Edward Johnston December 26, 1892 at William Bushes Unknown
George Watkins October 10, 1866 at George Watkins Homicide
infant child infant child September 15, 1861 at the residence of Mrs Margret Willis Accident
Tom Waldrum colored man (Free) January 20, 1857 in the woods near Mr Avory Franklins Accident
infant child infant child November 17, 1891 at Mr M Toneys place Unknown
John Matthews October 13, 1829 at the house of William Adams Other
A. P. Shultz January 9, 1850 at or near Solomon Clickleys[?] Unknown
Jim McKie October 26, 1898 near John starks Homicide
Lesthia Ridlehouse[Ridlehover?] January 5, 1892 at the Residence of Mrs Edny Mary Accident
James Booth August 23, 1878 at E. C. House Homicide
infant child infant child January 18, 1892 at the Plantation of L. G. Swearinger Accident
Robert Johnston May 23, 1891 at Clarks Ferry below bridge on C. & G.[?] R R Accident
Mary Bright Hanpt[?] October 6, 1881 at Bright Hanpt[?] Unknown
Mary Slave May 17, 1847 at the Plantation of A. Perrin Homicide
Frank Milton child January 26, 1894 at Sanders Loricks Natural Causes
Thomas Rosseter[?] August 30, 1852 at Hamburg SC Accident
W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place Natural Causes
William Samuel April 26, 1891 at Scima[?] Hill Church Homicide
Eldrige Padgett February 9, 1859 at Eidson Padgetts Accident
Simon C. Wood[?] December 26, 1857 at Wm Calelaziers[?] Natural Causes
Lawrence Frazier child January 14, 1895 at D.B. Holingsworths Accident
George Washington Crowder October 19, 1866 at Grannetville Accident

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