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
Ed Glover July 8, 1882 at Poore House gun/illness
Samuel Harrison February 18, 1881 at [inelligible - faded]
Lindy Jones March 15, 1882 at George Holingsworth House
Kizziah[?] slave, servant March 11, 1860 at the residence of Mr M Lanham Natural Causes
Joseph Moore Jr. April 19, 1846 at the house of Dr John D. Nicholson Natural Causes
John G. Riddle July 3, 1860 at the residence of Mr Richard Burton Natural Causes
Ben Shubrick col December 24, 1869 at Negro heade Lane Natural Causes possible mental illness
Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation Natural Causes
Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm Natural Causes illness
Charles negro boy March 7, 1857 at Archy Clark residence Natural Causes exposure
William Anderson April 14, 1864 at the plantation of T.[?] S Boles Natural Causes
infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House Natural Causes
Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing Natural Causes disease
Mary Gillam January 1, 1891 at Mrs Francis Wrights Plantation Natural Causes disease
infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman Natural Causes
W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place Natural Causes
Doublin male slave, boy April 5, 1857 at the Residence of Mrs Delila Philips Natural Causes mental illness
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1858 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
George Hatcher freedman June 19, 1867 at B. W. Hatchers Mill on Shaws creek Natural Causes
infant infant May 5, 1893 at F. L. Foys Natural Causes
Silvy Nix Natural Causes disease
George W. Medlock January 1, 1848 at the house of Daniel Abby Natural Causes disease
Emaline Jackson August 27, 1894 at Dr Childs Plantation Natural Causes
Albert Watson June 15, 1892 at the plantation of W.B. Maffett Natural Causes
Isaac Jones July 1, 1881 at Ridge Spring Natural Causes
Lizzie Greeg July 4, 1884 at Capt Taliar[?] Hearin[?] Natural Causes possible alcohol
Infred Padgett July 12, 1848 at the Joal of Edgefield Natural Causes
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation Natural Causes
Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill Natural Causes disease
Patrick Burns[?] November 4, 1858 at the residence of Richard Campbell Natural Causes disease
Thomas Prince July 31, 1848 at the Joal of Said District Natural Causes illness
George Robinson January 12, 1892 at the plantation of E. B. Davis Natural Causes disease
Cooper slave March 17, 1852 at the plantation of L.H. Mundy decd Natural Causes disease
Levi S. Mathews July 13, 1892 at G. C. Wheerles[?] Residence Natural Causes
Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place Natural Causes
Edmond Price April 30, 1892 at Kennys Graveyard Natural Causes
J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H. Natural Causes disease
infant child infant child September 9, 1891 at Wards Natural Causes child birth
Mid[?] Griffin February 2, 1895 at the Govelace[?] Place Natural Causes
Richard Stevens February 21, 1898 at Johnston S.C. Natural Causes
Reubin Weaver at Elijah Boatwrights Plantation Natural Causes
Bettie Willis March 24, 1892 at the Croker place the home of Miss Bettie Willis Natural Causes
Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation Natural Causes disease
John Brown December 20, 1844 at the house of John Brown Natural Causes
James Mitchell February 18, 1879 at L D Laudrums Natural Causes
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
Pompy Robinson November 1, 1898 at Norris Place Natural Causes suffocation
J. B. Whittle November 28, 1894 at Mrs Whittles Natural Causes
Jack Taylor April 11, 1892 at the house of Hal[?] Miles Natural Causes
Abram slave October 8, 1860 at the Residence of H. B. Raborns Natural Causes disease

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