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 101 - 150 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Type Death Methodsort descending
William Prince July 9, 1851 at the house of John W Garrett Accident
Nelson Smith freedman, boy October 4, 1866 at Andrew Warts Homicide
Cap Bryan February 25, 1893 at the plantation of Mrs Doziers Accident
William Bailey July 19, 1846 at the House of Samuel C Scott Homicide
Charley Ryan May 9, 1892 at T. H. Ramsford Plantion Homicide
Jane Glover January 12, 1883 at Handy Tanks House on John Wir[?] plantation Unknown
A. R. Steel girl child August 28, 1869 at Graniteville Accident
Susan Medlock April 7, 1894 at Johnston Homicide
infant child infant child December 9, 1891 at a colored cemetary Accident
Peter Negro man December 30, 1859 at the Plantation of Mr Wm Bunch Accident
Ann Kimball September 4, 1895 at China grove church Homicide
Sarah Scurry September 28, 1844 at the House of Sarah Scurry Suicide
infant infant January 24, 1893 at Clintonwards Accident
Charly Washington boy November 22, 1891 at the house of George Washington near Bauknights ferry Accident
Richard Lundy December 7, 1891 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Lindy Jones March 15, 1882 at George Holingsworth House Accident
Kenneth Martor[?] January 15, 1852 at Thomas Samar's[?] Mills on horse creek Accident
A. G. Leek February 23, 1859 at A. G. Leeks Residence Other
infant, (male) infant, (male) April 29, 1857 at Potterville Homicide
Abram slave October 8, 1860 at the Residence of H. B. Raborns Natural Causes
William White December 10, 1898 at Savanah River Accident
Hampton Reynolds July 30, 1892 at J.W. Reynolds Plantation Accident
Adam Barker August 10, 1879 at the Residence of Adam Barker Decd Suicide
infant, child infant, child November 29, 1894 at the plantation of J. P. Roton Natural Causes
Luther Harris May 26, 1899 at the plantation of George F Towns Homicide
Isaac Grimer December 10, 1868 at Jacobs Branch on the Spaun Church road Accident
Lidda Hampton November 24, 1893 at A Derrecks Natural Causes
Martin B. Elam January 28, 1851 at Mrs Mary Elams Other
Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation Natural Causes
Thomas Prince July 31, 1848 at the Joal of Said District Natural Causes
Charley Geeter October 27, 1881 at Violets Geeter's house Accident
Larrence Valentine December 28, 1893 at Mt[?] Willing Accident
James Booth August 23, 1878 at E. C. House Homicide
Hardy Boulware January 2, 1862 at Hardy Boulwares Homicide
Levi H. McDaniel March 9, 1859 at or near the 17 mile Post on the Scotts Ferry Road Homicide
Robert Johnston May 23, 1891 at Clarks Ferry below bridge on C. & G.[?] R R Accident
Dave Gillam August 25, 1892 at the house of Cal Smiths Homicide
Mary Gillam January 1, 1891 at Mrs Francis Wrights Plantation Natural Causes
Lizzie Greeg July 4, 1884 at Capt Taliar[?] Hearin[?] Natural Causes
Thomas Rosseter[?] August 30, 1852 at Hamburg SC Accident
John slave September 27, 1863 at the residence of Johnson A Bland Accident
Sindy Brighthop August 21, 1898 on S.W. Gardners place Homicide
Alice Adkinson October 18, 1898 at Republican Church Homicide
Apling negro man April 5, 1849 in the woods in said district near the Lexington line on a branch of McGier Creek Homicide
Sallie Busch August 21, 1892 at Lewis Beans plantation Natural Causes
Lizzy Rardon September 28, 1879 at Clansey Holloways plantation Accident
Gus Blocker August 18, 1892 at the plantion of July Blocker Homicide
James Reynolds December 20, 1860 at the residence of James Reynolds Homicide
George Washington Crowder October 19, 1866 at Grannetville Accident
Lona May Hamilton child October 18, 1893 at or near Longmires PO[?] Natural Causes

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