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 251 - 300 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Type Death Methodsort ascending
William Anderson April 14, 1864 at the plantation of T.[?] S Boles Natural Causes
Ann Kimball September 4, 1895 at China grove church Homicide
Nelson Smith freedman, boy October 4, 1866 at Andrew Warts Homicide
infant child infant child October 6, 1891 at her Residence Unknown
Charly Washington boy November 22, 1891 at the house of George Washington near Bauknights ferry Accident
Ernest Bean April 6, 1884 at the Mill of B[?] Hill Accident
Ben Shubrick col December 24, 1869 at Negro heade Lane Natural Causes
Joseph W. Glover September 2, 1844 at Charles Comptys[?] Hotel Homicide
Pompy Robinson November 1, 1898 at Norris Place Natural Causes
Richard J. Barton December 28, 1866 at Mrs Lucinda Bartons Accident
Bartly negro man January 16, 1846 in the woods near the plantation of Dr Wm M Bent Unknown
Infant Boy Child Infant Boy Child June 18, 1883 at Marsh Grobe Yard Accident
Tom negro boy February 5, 1853 at the late residence of Col Harling Quarles[?] deceased Natural Causes
Everett Hook July 18, 1891 at the saw Mill of M J Hook Accident
Cap Bryan February 25, 1893 at the plantation of Mrs Doziers Accident
Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation Natural Causes
Rose negro woman Slave March 14, 1846 at Michael Longs Homicide
Larrence Valentine December 28, 1893 at Mt[?] Willing Accident
Rose three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
John Matthews October 13, 1829 at the house of William Adams Other
Berry Butler October 9, 1892 at J. H Lagroons[?] plantation Accident
Hardy Boulware January 2, 1862 at Hardy Boulwares Homicide
J. M. Long October 10, 1891 at J. M. Longs Homicide
Dave Gillam August 25, 1892 at the house of Cal Smiths Homicide
Robert slave, boy April 8, 1847 at Edward Hampton's Suicide
Mary Bright Hanpt[?] October 6, 1881 at Bright Hanpt[?] Unknown
Nancy Slave June 19, 1847 at the house of Mrs G. Rily's Suicide
William White December 10, 1898 at Savanah River Accident
Eldrige Padgett February 9, 1859 at Eidson Padgetts Accident
Richmond slave March 3, 1857 at V[?] Elbert Blands residence at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Tephius[?] Cornwall January 14, 1845 on one of the Public Streets of the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
infant, child infant, child November 29, 1894 at the plantation of J. P. Roton Natural Causes
Lewis slave May 21, 1861 at S. H. Roggers Suicide
Ed Glover July 8, 1882 at Poore House Accident
Lidda Hampton November 24, 1893 at A Derrecks Natural Causes
John Hester May 13, 1846 at Hamburg in the shop of J.J. Kenedy Accident
Abram slave October 8, 1860 at the Residence of H. B. Raborns Natural Causes
infant child infant child January 10, 1892 at Trenton Accident
Mahlon Jones December 25, 1891 at Landrams Farm Homicide
Charles negro boy November 14, 1842 On Mr Thos Oliver's Plantation, at or near Said Oliver's residence Accident
Joseph Powel August 18, 1879 at [??] Accident
Henry negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at New Savannah in beach Island Accident
James Mitchell February 18, 1879 at L D Laudrums Natural Causes
Silvy Nix January 1, 1891 Natural Causes
R. Mackgrath January 5, 1852 at the house of John Dobey Other
John H Webb January 22, 1882 at James Webb Residence Accident
Henry slave, boy May 1, 1857 at Arthur Glovers House, Horns Creek Accident
Lewis negro man March 20, 1846 at & in the Revd Mr. Brooks Plantation Accident
H. P. Church December 27, 1842 in the house of C. H. Goodman in the Vilage of Edgefield Other
Sindy Brighthop August 21, 1898 on S.W. Gardners place Homicide

Get in touch

  • Department of History
    220 LeConte Hall, Baldwin Street
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602-1602
  • 706-542-2053
  • admin@ehistory.org

eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry

Learn More about eHistory

Supporters

+ American Council of Learned Societies
+ DigiLab, Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, University of Georgia