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 Type Death Methodsort descending
Peter Negro man December 30, 1859 at the Plantation of Mr Wm Bunch Accident
Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm Natural Causes
Wade Barronton October 8, 1860 at Wade Barrontons Residence Natural Causes
Isham Glover August 10, 1892 at Edgefield C.H. Homicide
Peyton Bird colored September 29, 1869 at Edgefield CH Natural Causes
Infant Boy Child Infant Boy Child June 18, 1883 at Marsh Grobe Yard Accident
George Robinson January 12, 1892 at the plantation of E. B. Davis Natural Causes
Clara Bell colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
William Prince July 9, 1851 at the house of John W Garrett Accident
Julia Van June 20, 1892 at the plantation of Mr Joe Thurmond Homicide
Bob negro September 23, 1864 in the District Natural Causes
Lousay November 25, 1860 at Doct John E. Padgett Accident
A. R. Steel girl child August 28, 1869 at Graniteville Accident
Curry slave March 17, 1856 at Mrs Elizabeth Middletons Plantation Accident
William Lundy August 28, 1846 at house of John Rainsford Accident
Jno. C Swearingin April 24, 1895 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Cap Bryan February 25, 1893 at the plantation of Mrs Doziers Accident
infant infant January 24, 1893 at Clintonwards Accident
Ernest Bean April 6, 1884 at the Mill of B[?] Hill Accident
Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation Natural Causes
Daniel slave, boy April 28, 1859 at L. Halls Tisery[?] Suicide
Kenneth Martor[?] January 15, 1852 at Thomas Samar's[?] Mills on horse creek Accident
Thomas Rosseter[?] August 30, 1852 at Hamburg SC Accident
Hardy Boulware January 2, 1862 at Hardy Boulwares Homicide
Eldrige Padgett February 9, 1859 at Eidson Padgetts Accident
Emaline Jackson August 27, 1894 at Dr Childs Plantation Natural Causes
infant child infant child November 17, 1891 at Mr M Toneys place Unknown
Ed Glover July 8, 1882 at Poore House Accident
infant child infant child January 18, 1892 at the Plantation of L. G. Swearinger Accident
Milledge Denny colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Isaac Grimer December 10, 1868 at Jacobs Branch on the Spaun Church road Accident
infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman Natural Causes
George Watkins October 10, 1866 at George Watkins Homicide
W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place Natural Causes
infant child infant child September 15, 1861 at the residence of Mrs Margret Willis Accident
John Matthews October 13, 1829 at the house of William Adams Other
Lidda Hampton November 24, 1893 at A Derrecks Natural Causes
A. P. Shultz January 9, 1850 at or near Solomon Clickleys[?] Unknown
Mid[?] Griffin February 2, 1895 at the Govelace[?] Place Natural Causes
James Booth August 23, 1878 at E. C. House Homicide
Robert Johnston May 23, 1891 at Clarks Ferry below bridge on C. & G.[?] R R Accident
Mary Bright Hanpt[?] October 6, 1881 at Bright Hanpt[?] Unknown
infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House Natural Causes
Sallie Young December 8, 1890 at Mr A. F Broadwaters Plantation Accident
Mary Slave May 17, 1847 at the Plantation of A. Perrin Homicide
B. J. Mims January 20, 1885 at the Residence of Capt B J Mims Natural Causes
Julia Banks September 4, 1891 at Mr Banks Plantation Natural Causes
Belaus[Velaus?] slave, boy March 30, 1863 at Robert Smiths Accident
Edmond Price April 30, 1892 at Kennys Graveyard Unknown
Tom negro slave December 18, 1858 at Chlo Watsons Homicide

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