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 201 - 250 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Typesort descending Death Method
Tom Slave, old negro man January 12, 1853 near the residence of Harry Scott Accident
Henry negro man June 3, 1849 at the house of Mrs Mary Harrison Accident
Joseph Shaw July 26, 1858 at the residence of John H Shaw near Edgefield C.H. Accident
Eva Blocker February 11, 1893 at J. P. Wrights Plantation Accident
Elleck free boy December 13, 1866 at Johnathan Gregorys Accident
Henry Ethredge June 2, 1899 at the plantation of P.B. Mayson Accident
John Young June 27, 1891 at the residence of John Young Accident
Nancy Weaver December 20, 1893 at Edgefield Court House Accident
Mingo Mosley January 13, 1883 at Samuel[?] Corley's Accident
Abram negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at Henry L Maysons Accident
Abram man slave August 17, 1860 at the Residence of Gen[?] Jas B. Griffin Accident snake
Spencer Mays freedman November 8, 1866 at John Buslys Accident pistol
A. G. Howard February 28, 1860 at Grannet Ville Depot Accident
Harry negro boy September 9, 1858 at the residence of the Rev. J. L. Brooks Accident
Jesse Moragna[?] March 3, 1882 at Luke Moragines[?] House Accident
William C. Goff May 7, 1865 at Bethany Church Accident
Lila Washington February 20, 1879 at Wesley Barns Mill Accident
Everett Hook July 18, 1891 at the saw Mill of M J Hook Accident
Richard negroe Boy April 21, 1863 in the District of Edgefield Accident train
Lucy Roper June 29, 1899 on the pantation of S.W. Miller Accident lightning
H. P. Church December 27, 1842 in the house of C. H. Goodman in the Vilage of Edgefield Other
J. E. Black May 8, 1861 at the Residence of J. E. Black Other
R. Mackgrath January 5, 1852 at the house of John Dobey Other
John Matthews October 13, 1829 at the house of William Adams Other
A. G. Leek February 23, 1859 at A. G. Leeks Residence Other
Martin B. Elam January 28, 1851 at Mrs Mary Elams Other
Milledge Stuard October 8, 1881 at Mount [??] Yard Natural Causes
Alexander P. Kennard February 16, 1847 in the District Natural Causes
infant infant May 5, 1893 at F. L. Foys Natural Causes
Silvy Nix January 1, 1891 Natural Causes
Jack Taylor April 11, 1892 at the house of Hal[?] Miles Natural Causes
George W. Medlock January 1, 1848 at the house of Daniel Abby Natural Causes
J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H. Natural Causes
Levi S. Mathews July 13, 1892 at G. C. Wheerles[?] Residence Natural Causes
Cooper slave March 17, 1852 at the plantation of L.H. Mundy decd Natural Causes
Joseph Moore Jr. April 19, 1846 at the house of Dr John D. Nicholson Natural Causes
Dudley Roundtree August 10, 1856 at the dwelling house of the late Dudley Roundtree Natural Causes
Joe Elam February 16, 1882 at Nicholson premises Natural Causes
George Robinson January 12, 1892 at the plantation of E. B. Davis Natural Causes
Dilsey Seigler September 20, 1869 at Miles Mills Natural Causes
Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm Natural Causes
Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation Natural Causes
Mid[?] Griffin February 2, 1895 at the Govelace[?] Place Natural Causes
Emaline Jackson August 27, 1894 at Dr Childs Plantation Natural Causes
Kisiah Frazier December 17, 1893 at the plantation of T S Rainsforde Natural Causes
infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman Natural Causes
infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House Natural Causes
W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place Natural Causes
Patrick Burns[?] November 4, 1858 at the residence of Richard Campbell Natural Causes
John Brown December 20, 1844 at the house of John Brown 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