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 Typesort descending Death Method
Infant Boy Child Colored Infant Boy Child Colored February 15, 1883 at the residence of Charles Coleman Unknown
infant child infant child July 24, 1892 at Promised Land School house Unknown
Griffin Mays November 20, 1897 at W. H. Pordew Unknown pistol
Pete slave October 31, 1864 at Liberty hill Unknown
Fed Martin convict September 1, 1895 at Poor House and CH Unknown
Susan Churchwell October 6, 1884 at Allen Simkins House Unknown
Minda negro girl August 17, 1851 at Mr Geo Robinsons Unknown
Joel Etheridge November 29, 1893 at Joel Etheridge Residence Unknown
Edward Johnston December 26, 1892 at William Bushes Unknown
Hurnon[?] April 4, 1862 at Doct H R Cooks Plantation on Savanah River Unknown
Infant Infant December 18, 1894 at the Rinheart Grave yard Unknown
infant child infant child November 17, 1891 at Mr M Toneys place Unknown
Jim Brown Child April 19, 1882 on Jasper Talbert Premises Unknown
Edmond Price April 30, 1892 at Kennys Graveyard Unknown
Ansabelle Brown October 21, 1866 near the Tambor[?] Soba[?] Rail Road Unknown
Aggy Latily[?] negro woman slave June 21, 1848 at the plantation of N L Griffin Unknown
infant child infant child October 6, 1891 at her Residence Unknown
Unknown August 30, 1866 at Fosity[?] Creek ford Unknown
Bartly negro man January 16, 1846 in the woods near the plantation of Dr Wm M Bent Unknown
A. P. Shultz January 9, 1850 at or near Solomon Clickleys[?] Unknown
Joshua negro man slave June 26, 1860 at Harmon Gallman Unknown
Gus West October 11, 1883 at Jack Holms Unknown
Jane Glover January 12, 1883 at Handy Tanks House on John Wir[?] plantation Unknown
Caroline Free negro August 26, 1858 four miles from Hamburg Unknown
Anderson B. Branham January 6, 1892 at the plantation of M. C. Parker Unknown
Mary Bright Hanpt[?] October 6, 1881 at Bright Hanpt[?] Unknown
Wade Medlock July 12, 1894 at Benjamin Boatwrights Plantation Unknown
Unknown April 11, 1860 at or near W.J. Walkers Unknown
Sam slave, boy October 10, 1857 at the Carolina Hotel, Edgefield C.H. Unknown
Kenneth Martor[?] January 15, 1852 at Thomas Samar's[?] Mills on horse creek Accident
Eva Blocker February 11, 1893 at J. P. Wrights Plantation Accident
James Edward Settle boy March 9, 1884 on Henry Hill Plantation Accident
Ryal Negro Slave July 28, 1851 at Mr Thos McKies Batteau landing on Big Stephen's Creek Accident
Emanuel Johnson October 7, 1893 at Wards Accident train
Elmira Jackson May 18, 1884 at George Holingsworths House Accident
Sherod Holms October 10, 1884 at Sherod Holms House Accident horse
Fannie Ford March 5, 1893 at Trenton S.C. Accident train
Joe infant negro August 26, 1860 at John Huiets Accident
Nancy Weaver December 20, 1893 at Edgefield Court House Accident
Julia Hightower child November 9, 1890 at Mr Sam Marshes Place Accident
Sarah Lucas October 30, 1890 at Mr. M L Holson Accident
John slave September 27, 1863 at the residence of Johnson A Bland Accident
Cland Elam child March 17, 1892 at A. J. Norris Place Accident
Thomas Welheu[?] June 19, 1868 at Benjamin Better[?] wheat field on the Columbia & Augusta Rail Road Accident
William Prince July 9, 1851 at the house of John W Garrett Accident
Richard Mims August 1, 1899 at the plantation of Mrs. H. Carter Accident
Milledge Fuller freedman February 18, 1867 at John Ransford plantation Accident
Milton Barter[?] youth August 24, 1849 at Capt. Andrew J Hammonds Mills Accident
Isaac negro man December 1, 1856 at a point on the South Carolina Rail Road [?] Brooks Mill creek Accident train
Thomas Rosseter[?] August 30, 1852 at Hamburg SC Accident

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