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
James Frazier Babie October 24, 1890 at D. B Hollingworth Accident
Charly Washington boy November 22, 1891 at the house of George Washington near Bauknights ferry Accident
Flora Harrison November 4, 1890 at Liberty Hill Homicide
Kenneth Martor[?] January 15, 1852 at Thomas Samar's[?] Mills on horse creek Accident
Infant Boy Child Colored Infant Boy Child Colored February 15, 1883 at the residence of Charles Coleman Unknown
Robert W. Kincade December 27, 1845 at the house of Baley[?] Corley Natural Causes
Charley Ryan May 9, 1892 at T. H. Ramsford Plantion Homicide
Pompy Robinson November 1, 1898 at Norris Place Natural Causes
Peyton Bird colored September 29, 1869 at Edgefield CH Natural Causes
James L. Hill January 10, 1867 at James L Hills Accident
infant child infant child December 9, 1891 at a colored cemetary Accident
William Prince July 9, 1851 at the house of John W Garrett Accident
Harriet negro woman July 20, 1859 at the residence of JB Rease Natural Causes
Richard Lundy December 7, 1891 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
John Shumport[?] November 7, 1851 at John Shumports[?] Accident
A. R. Steel girl child August 28, 1869 at Graniteville Accident
Jim Brown Child April 19, 1882 on Jasper Talbert Premises Unknown
Eunice Hogan October 26, 1851 at the house of John Briskey Homicide
infant, (male) infant, (male) April 29, 1857 at Potterville Homicide
Susan Medlock April 7, 1894 at Johnston Homicide
Fed Martin convict September 1, 1895 at Poor House and CH Unknown
Henry Jones September 21, 1855 Accident
Ann Kimball September 4, 1895 at China grove church Homicide
Duke negro man March 25, 1855 near Dennis Carpenters Accident
infant infant January 24, 1893 at Clintonwards Accident
Henry Turner September 24, 1878 at Johnstons Homicide
Joseph Shaw July 26, 1858 at the residence of John H Shaw near Edgefield C.H. Accident
George W. Medlock January 1, 1848 at the house of Daniel Abby Natural Causes
Luther Harris May 26, 1899 at the plantation of George F Towns Homicide
Dave Gillam August 25, 1892 at the house of Cal Smiths Homicide
infant child infant child September 9, 1891 at Wards Natural Causes
Thomas Rosseter[?] August 30, 1852 at Hamburg SC Accident
John Rufus Russell October 10, 1884 at John L Russell House Accident
William White December 10, 1898 at Savanah River Accident
Lizza colered woman October 7, 1866 at the house of Thomas S. Miller Natural Causes
Lilla Olophant female infant August 18, 1879 at Simpton[?] Pinns[?] Accident
Dinah Woman Slave May 22, 1849 at Allen Griffith Natural Causes
infant, child infant, child November 29, 1894 at the plantation of J. P. Roton Natural Causes
E. M. Whatley August 31, 1893 at E M Whatley's Suicide
Isaac Grimer December 10, 1868 at Jacobs Branch on the Spaun Church road Accident
Joe slave, boy September 13, 1860 at the residence of D. M. Glover Homicide
Abram negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at Henry L Maysons Accident
Mary Gillam January 1, 1891 at Mrs Francis Wrights Plantation Natural Causes
Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation Natural Causes
Larrence Valentine December 28, 1893 at Mt[?] Willing Accident
James Booth August 23, 1878 at E. C. House Homicide
Dick male slave July 13, 1859 at Ted Scurrys residence Accident
Hampton Reynolds July 30, 1892 at J.W. Reynolds Plantation Accident
Wesley male slave, child October 5, 1857 at the residence of Sophia A Tilman Homicide
Robert Johnston May 23, 1891 at Clarks Ferry below bridge on C. & G.[?] R R Accident

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