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 251 - 300 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Type Death Methodsort descending
Joel Etheridge November 29, 1893 at Joel Etheridge Residence Unknown
Jim slave June 10, 1859 at M, L, Bonham Esqr residence on the Pine House road Natural Causes
Victor male slave April 24, 1859 at A. L. Dearing Plantation Natural Causes
Will Collens October 20, 1894 at Gaines SC Homicide
Apling negro man April 5, 1849 in the woods in said district near the Lexington line on a branch of McGier Creek Homicide
J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H. Natural Causes
Robert Reynolds July 30, 1892 at J.W. Reynolds Plantation Accident
Presley Wise July 11, 1891 at D W. Padgetts plantation Homicide
Patrick Burns[?] November 4, 1858 at the residence of Richard Campbell Natural Causes
Charles slave, boy September 25, 1861 at Elijah Watson Homicide
Charles slave July 31, 1851 at the house of John M. Norris Esqr in Edgefield Accident
Seware[?] Stuart November 4, 1893 at J.[?] E. Griffiths Accident
Henry negro man June 3, 1849 at the house of Mrs Mary Harrison Accident
Joe Elam February 16, 1882 at Nicholson premises Natural Causes
Al White October 12, 1898 at Mundy[?] Place Homicide
Sam slave, boy October 10, 1857 at the Carolina Hotel, Edgefield C.H. Unknown
Isham Glover August 9, 1892 at Edgefield C.H. Homicide
infant infant May 5, 1893 at F. L. Foys Natural Causes
Eddie Watson Infant April 25, 1892 at Bob Stevens Natural Causes
Mary Harrison September 10, 1894 at Dornville Accident
Edmund Brown December 24, 1853 at the house of Wm Merchantile[?] Homicide
Violet negro woman (slave) March 25, 1844 at John Dinkinses Suicide
Susan Churchwell October 6, 1884 at Allen Simkins House Unknown
Elijah Sullivan April 24, 1898 at Cow-buel[?] place Accident
Infant Infant December 18, 1894 at the Rinheart Grave yard Unknown
George Hatcher freedman June 19, 1867 at B. W. Hatchers Mill on Shaws creek Natural Causes
Solomon Ellenberg February 18, 1859 near the Residence of G.M. Ouzts[?] Suicide
Tilman Attaway April 14, 1849 at the corner of the Oharer[?] old field Accident
Hurnon[?] April 4, 1862 at Doct H R Cooks Plantation on Savanah River Unknown
Caroline Coleman July 25, 1893 at Brisel[?] Blacks Residence Natural Causes
Kisiah Frazier December 17, 1893 at the plantation of T S Rainsforde Natural Causes
Mary female Slave January 13, 1853 at Isaac Bowles[?] Accident
Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation Natural Causes
Chaney negro woman December 11, 1855 at the dwelling house of Mrs Randall in the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
Nelson Smith freedman, boy October 4, 1866 at Andrew Warts Homicide
Eunice Hogan October 26, 1851 at the house of John Briskey Homicide
Isham Glover August 10, 1892 at Edgefield C.H. Homicide
Ernest Bean April 6, 1884 at the Mill of B[?] Hill Accident
Emanuel slave March 12, 1856 at Matthew McGraw's plantation Accident
George Robinson January 12, 1892 at the plantation of E. B. Davis Natural Causes
Joseph Shaw July 26, 1858 at the residence of John H Shaw near Edgefield C.H. Accident
Joseph Ruffington January 9, 1893 at Thos O Attaways Accident
Robert W. Kincade December 27, 1845 at the house of Baley[?] Corley Natural Causes
Henry Goodman May 4, 1851 at or near to William H Adams on little horse Creek Accident
Infant Boy Child Infant Boy Child June 18, 1883 at Marsh Grobe Yard Accident
Rufus Harling September 16, 1897 at Clarks Hill Homicide
Joel W. Warren November 9, 1894 at Joseph Mirren[?] House Natural Causes
Curry slave March 17, 1856 at Mrs Elizabeth Middletons Plantation Accident
William H Maharey May 25, 1863 at Haslin Factory on the Procelian Manufacturing Company Accident
Aggy Latily[?] negro woman slave June 21, 1848 at the plantation of N L Griffin Unknown

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