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 Methodsort ascending
Pete slave October 31, 1864 at Liberty hill Unknown
John McManas December 4, 1883 at the Jail Accident
Thomas child of Thomas M Chandler September 11, 1850 at Thos M. Chandler's house, and at the old Pottery Accident
Thomas Glover August 2, 1893 at Bill Werk[?] Residence Homicide
James Leppard February 13, 1893 at F. M. Leppards Natural Causes
infant infant January 10, 1898 at Johnston Homicide
Albert Watson June 15, 1892 at the plantation of W.B. Maffett Natural Causes
Jesse Moragna[?] March 3, 1882 at Luke Moragines[?] House Accident
David West boy January 30, 1862 at Graniteville Accident
Richard Mims August 1, 1899 at the plantation of Mrs. H. Carter Accident
Minda negro girl August 17, 1851 at Mr Geo Robinsons Unknown
Cland Elam child March 17, 1892 at A. J. Norris Place Accident
Mingo Mosley January 13, 1883 at Samuel[?] Corley's Accident
J. F. Styron April 21, 1891 at residence of J. F. Styron[?] Accident
Louisa Wooden October 13, 1893 at Mose Woden Accident
Toby negro man July 10, 1844 near Bauskett Bridge on Stevens Creek Accident
Lila Washington February 20, 1879 at Wesley Barns Mill Accident
Jim Coleman freidman November 15, 1866 at the Mackey Place on horse Creek Accident
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
Tandy Holmes September 21, 1894 at or on Dr. W.C. Prescotts Plantation Homicide
Julia Hightower child November 9, 1890 at Mr Sam Marshes Place Accident
Levi S. Mathews July 13, 1892 at G. C. Wheerles[?] Residence Natural Causes
Allen Bauknight freedman June 11, 1866 at William Bauknights Accident
William Padgett February 22, 1894 at W.D. Readys plantation Homicide

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