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
Lindy Jones March 15, 1882 at George Holingsworth House
Samuel Harrison February 18, 1881 at [inelligible - faded]
Ed Glover July 8, 1882 at Poore House gun/illness
Sallie Busch August 21, 1892 at Lewis Beans plantation Natural Causes disease
Ben Shubrick col December 24, 1869 at Negro heade Lane Natural Causes possible mental illness
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
William Anderson April 14, 1864 at the plantation of T.[?] S Boles Natural Causes
Amanda Glover August 30, 1892 at Mr Pofse[?] Lotts Plantation Natural Causes
Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing Natural Causes disease
Robert W. Kincade December 27, 1845 at the house of Baley[?] Corley Natural Causes disease
Sam negro, slave September 18, 1846 at the residence of Mrs Nancy Delaughter Natural Causes
Doublin male slave, boy April 5, 1857 at the Residence of Mrs Delila Philips Natural Causes mental illness
Jack Taylor April 11, 1892 at the house of Hal[?] Miles Natural Causes
Jim slave June 10, 1859 at M, L, Bonham Esqr residence on the Pine House road Natural Causes
James Leppard February 13, 1893 at F. M. Leppards Natural Causes
Tom negro boy February 5, 1853 at the late residence of Col Harling Quarles[?] deceased Natural Causes
George Hatcher freedman June 19, 1867 at B. W. Hatchers Mill on Shaws creek Natural Causes
Isaac Jones July 1, 1881 at Ridge Spring Natural Causes
Joe Elam February 16, 1882 at Nicholson premises Natural Causes
W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place Natural Causes
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1857 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
Eddie Watson Infant April 25, 1892 at Bob Stevens Natural Causes
Abram slave October 8, 1860 at the Residence of H. B. Raborns Natural Causes disease
Chaney negro woman December 11, 1855 at the dwelling house of Mrs Randall in the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes disease
Caroline Coleman July 25, 1893 at Brisel[?] Blacks Residence Natural Causes
Dinah Woman Slave May 22, 1849 at Allen Griffith Natural Causes child birth
Joseph Moore Jr. April 19, 1846 at the house of Dr John D. Nicholson Natural Causes
George W. Medlock January 1, 1848 at the house of Daniel Abby Natural Causes disease
Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill Natural Causes disease
Simon C. Wood[?] December 26, 1857 at Wm Calelaziers[?] Natural Causes alcohol/injury
Victor male slave April 24, 1859 at A. L. Dearing Plantation Natural Causes
George Robinson January 12, 1892 at the plantation of E. B. Davis Natural Causes disease
Wade Barronton October 8, 1860 at Wade Barrontons Residence Natural Causes disease
J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H. Natural Causes disease
infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House Natural Causes
Garett Doby at William Rufus Natural Causes
Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation Natural Causes
Infred Padgett July 12, 1848 at the Joal of Edgefield Natural Causes
Harriet negro woman July 20, 1859 at the residence of JB Rease Natural Causes disease
Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation Natural Causes disease
Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place Natural Causes
Albert Watson June 15, 1892 at the plantation of W.B. Maffett Natural Causes
Charity Johnson March 11, 1847 at the Residence of Charity Johnson, late deceased Natural Causes
Thomas Prince July 31, 1848 at the Joal of Said District Natural Causes illness
Mary Gillam January 1, 1891 at Mrs Francis Wrights Plantation Natural Causes disease
Alexander P. Kennard February 16, 1847 in the District Natural Causes illness/mental illness
Richard Stevens February 21, 1898 at Johnston S.C. Natural Causes
infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman Natural Causes
Silvy Nix Natural Causes disease
Levi S. Mathews July 13, 1892 at G. C. Wheerles[?] Residence Natural Causes

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