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 501 - 524 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Type Death Method
William Bailey July 19, 1846 at the House of Samuel C Scott Homicide
William C. Goff May 7, 1865 at Bethany Church Accident
William Cloud July 8, 1851 at the Spaun[?] Hotel Homicide pistol
William H Maharey May 25, 1863 at Haslin Factory on the Procelian Manufacturing Company Accident
William Harlin February 19, 1856 at a new place sitting by Mr James Swearingem(Jr) on the Akien Road Accident
William Humphry January 4, 1894 at Etheridge Bridge Accident pocket knife
William L. Russell September 6, 1849 in the Hotel of H Jordon Suicide razor
William Lundy August 28, 1846 at house of John Rainsford Accident
William M. Tredaway March 27, 1851 at the house of William M Tredaway at Beach Island Homicide
William Martin May 24, 1891 on the premises of W. E. Friday Homicide pistol
William Padgett February 22, 1894 at W.D. Readys plantation Homicide
William Perry January 7, 1894 in the county and state aforesaid Accident
William Prince July 9, 1851 at the house of John W Garrett Accident
William Samuel April 26, 1891 at Scima[?] Hill Church Homicide
William Thurmond February 14, 1856 at Edgefield Court House, Planters[?] Hotel Homicide chair
William White December 10, 1898 at Savanah River Accident
Willie G. Harris March 25, 1897 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Willie Glover July 26, 1892 at Lark Glovers Plantation Accident mule
Willie Toney March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Willis Asbell December 7, 1877 at Ridge Spring Homicide
Willis Cumings child October 10, 1890 at C. M. Lanhams Accident
Wilson Griffin freedman February 13, 1867 at Luke Rodgers Homicide
Wily Royal January 7, 1895 at J.S. Hancocks Accident pistol
Yancy Hardy December 31, 1877 at Dr. GJ[?] Butlers Plantation Homicide pistol

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