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 Type Death Methodsort descending
infant child infant child October 6, 1891 at her Residence Unknown
Henry Turner September 24, 1878 at Johnstons Homicide
Charly Washington boy November 22, 1891 at the house of George Washington near Bauknights ferry Accident
Clara Bell colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Lula Smith child June 22, 1894 at James A Satcher's Plantation Homicide
Infant Boy Child Colored Infant Boy Child Colored February 15, 1883 at the residence of Charles Coleman Unknown
Joseph W. Glover September 2, 1844 at Charles Comptys[?] Hotel Homicide
John Henry King October 29, 1865 in Hamburg Homicide
Pompy Robinson November 1, 1898 at Norris Place Natural Causes
Lousay November 25, 1860 at Doct John E. Padgett Accident
Nelson Smith freedman, boy October 4, 1866 at Andrew Warts Homicide
Lilla Olophant female infant August 18, 1879 at Simpton[?] Pinns[?] Accident
infant, child infant, child November 29, 1894 at the plantation of J. P. Roton Natural Causes
A. P. Shultz January 9, 1850 at or near Solomon Clickleys[?] Unknown
Elleck free boy December 13, 1866 at Johnathan Gregorys Accident
Lidda Hampton November 24, 1893 at A Derrecks Natural Causes
Joe slave, boy September 13, 1860 at the residence of D. M. Glover Homicide
infant child infant child January 10, 1892 at Trenton Accident
Tom Slave, old negro man January 12, 1853 near the residence of Harry Scott Accident
Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation Natural Causes
Mary Slave May 17, 1847 at the Plantation of A. Perrin Homicide
Larrence Valentine December 28, 1893 at Mt[?] Willing Accident
Berry Butler October 9, 1892 at J. H Lagroons[?] plantation Accident
John Whitlock boy September 8, 1869 at Grainteville Accident
Hardy Boulware January 2, 1862 at Hardy Boulwares Homicide
Dick male slave July 13, 1859 at Ted Scurrys residence Accident
J. M. Long October 10, 1891 at J. M. Longs Homicide
Abram slave October 8, 1860 at the Residence of H. B. Raborns Natural Causes
Dave Gillam August 25, 1892 at the house of Cal Smiths Homicide
Milledge Denny colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Eva Blocker February 11, 1893 at J. P. Wrights Plantation Accident
John Rufus Russell October 10, 1884 at John L Russell House Accident
William M. Tredaway March 27, 1851 at the house of William M Tredaway at Beach Island Homicide
William White December 10, 1898 at Savanah River Accident
infant child infant child September 15, 1861 at the residence of Mrs Margret Willis Accident
Richmond slave March 3, 1857 at V[?] Elbert Blands residence at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Julia Mundy June 17, 1881 at Jas H Banknight Homicide
white man white man October 21, 1849 in the woods near Holsonbakers[?] old fields Natural Causes
Lona May Hamilton child October 18, 1893 at or near Longmires PO[?] Natural Causes
Cesar Negro, negro boy July 7, 1843 at the house of Elijah Watson Homicide
J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H. Natural Causes
Mahlon Jones December 25, 1891 at Landrams Farm Homicide
John McManas December 4, 1883 at the Jail Accident
Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing Natural Causes
Tom negro slave December 18, 1858 at Chlo Watsons Homicide
Silvy Nix January 1, 1891 Natural Causes
John G. Riddle July 3, 1860 at the residence of Mr Richard Burton Natural Causes
Simon C. Wood[?] December 26, 1857 at Wm Calelaziers[?] Natural Causes
Wade Medlock July 12, 1894 at Benjamin Boatwrights Plantation Unknown
Henry slave, boy May 1, 1857 at Arthur Glovers House, Horns Creek Accident

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