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
Emanuel slave March 12, 1856 at Matthew McGraw's plantation Accident
George Washington Crowder October 19, 1866 at Grannetville Accident
Richard negro boy Slave September 9, 1850 at Thomas Garretts Accident machinery
George Bowers May 26, 1891 at Kenards bend Accident mule
Solomon negro man June 24, 1844 near the Mill of George A. McKee on Stevens Creek Accident
Isah Zimmerman December 26, 1881 at the Residence of W F Ste[?]eies Accident pistol
Wallace Halloway June 25, 1895 at Edgefield Court house Accident train
Ora Weaver February 21, 1891 at the plantation of D B. H Holfarth[illegible - ink blot] Accident
Hampton Weaver colored July 17, 1869 at the house of and on the farm of James T Outz Accident shotgun
Sarah Lucas October 30, 1890 at Mr. M L Holson Accident
Jack negro boy May 14, 1852 at the house of H. W. Posey Accident
Richard J. Barton December 28, 1866 at Mrs Lucinda Bartons Accident
Joseph Ruffington January 9, 1893 at Thos O Attaways Accident
Tom Waldrum colored man (Free) January 20, 1857 in the woods near Mr Avory Franklins Accident
John Scott May 10, 1851 at Vaucluse[?] Factory Accident horse
Minnie Johnson December 22, 1892 at John Bettis plantation Accident
Willis Cumings child October 10, 1890 at C. M. Lanhams Accident
Unknown October 10, 1869 at Graniteville Accident train
Fannie Ford March 5, 1893 at Trenton S.C. Accident train
Sis Bonham child February 18, 1894 at M.B. Davenports Accident
R. Mackgrath January 5, 1852 at the house of John Dobey Other
John Matthews October 13, 1829 at the house of William Adams Other
J. E. Black May 8, 1861 at the Residence of J. E. Black Other
A. G. Leek February 23, 1859 at A. G. Leeks Residence Other
Martin B. Elam January 28, 1851 at Mrs Mary Elams Other
H. P. Church December 27, 1842 in the house of C. H. Goodman in the Vilage of Edgefield Other
Sam negro, slave September 18, 1846 at the residence of Mrs Nancy Delaughter Natural Causes
Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill Natural Causes
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
J. B. Whittle November 28, 1894 at Mrs Whittles Natural Causes
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1857 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
John Brown December 20, 1844 at the house of John Brown Natural Causes
Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place Natural Causes
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation Natural Causes
Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing Natural Causes
Richard Stevens February 21, 1898 at Johnston S.C. Natural Causes
B. J. Mims January 20, 1885 at the Residence of Capt B J Mims Natural Causes
Albert Watson June 15, 1892 at the plantation of W.B. Maffett Natural Causes
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1858 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
Lidda Hampton November 24, 1893 at A Derrecks Natural Causes
infant infant May 5, 1893 at F. L. Foys Natural Causes
Jim slave June 10, 1859 at M, L, Bonham Esqr residence on the Pine House road Natural Causes
Lona May Hamilton child October 18, 1893 at or near Longmires PO[?] Natural Causes
Simon C. Wood[?] December 26, 1857 at Wm Calelaziers[?] Natural Causes
white man white man October 21, 1849 in the woods near Holsonbakers[?] old fields Natural Causes
James Mitchell February 18, 1879 at L D Laudrums Natural Causes
Jack Taylor April 11, 1892 at the house of Hal[?] Miles Natural Causes
George Hatcher freedman June 19, 1867 at B. W. Hatchers Mill on Shaws creek Natural Causes
Charity Johnson March 11, 1847 at the Residence of Charity Johnson, late deceased Natural Causes
Mary Gillam January 1, 1891 at Mrs Francis Wrights Plantation Natural Causes

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