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 301 - 350 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Type Death Methodsort descending
Daniel slave, boy April 28, 1859 at L. Halls Tisery[?] Suicide
Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing Natural Causes
Cooper slave March 17, 1852 at the plantation of L.H. Mundy decd Natural Causes
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
Rufus Harling September 16, 1897 at Clarks Hill Homicide
Dilsey Seigler September 20, 1869 at Miles Mills Natural Causes
Milledge Stuard October 8, 1881 at Mount [??] Yard Natural Causes
Willis Cumings child October 10, 1890 at C. M. Lanhams Accident
Enoch Douglass August 11, 1879 near Wesly Barrs on the rail road Accident
infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman Natural Causes
Berry Butler October 9, 1892 at J. H Lagroons[?] plantation Accident
infant child infant child December 9, 1891 at a colored cemetary Accident
Rose three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
Toby negro man July 10, 1844 near Bauskett Bridge on Stevens Creek Accident
white man white man October 21, 1849 in the woods near Holsonbakers[?] old fields Natural Causes
Warren Kirkland November 16, 1858 at Benjamin Bartons Homicide
infant child infant child November 17, 1891 at Mr M Toneys place Unknown
Thomas Prince July 31, 1848 at the Joal of Said District Natural Causes
Lousay November 25, 1860 at Doct John E. Padgett Accident
Albert Watson June 15, 1892 at the plantation of W.B. Maffett Natural Causes
Henry negro man June 3, 1849 at the house of Mrs Mary Harrison Accident
Charles slave July 31, 1851 at the house of John M. Norris Esqr in Edgefield Accident
Elick Youngblood child March 21, 1881 at S[?] R Warren Homicide
James Reynolds December 20, 1860 at the residence of James Reynolds Homicide
James Leppard February 13, 1893 at F. M. Leppards Natural Causes
Tandy Holmes September 21, 1894 at or on Dr. W.C. Prescotts Plantation Homicide
infant infant May 5, 1893 at F. L. Foys Natural Causes
infant, (male) infant, (male) April 29, 1857 at Potterville Homicide
Louisa Wooden October 13, 1893 at Mose Woden Accident
Mary Slave May 17, 1847 at the Plantation of A. Perrin Homicide
Jacob Horn February 25, 1866 at the hous of Jacob Horns Homicide
Robert slave, boy April 8, 1847 at Edward Hampton's Suicide
Doublin male slave, boy April 5, 1857 at the Residence of Mrs Delila Philips Natural Causes
Jesse Limbecker June 18, 1869 at Hamburg Accident
Gus West October 11, 1883 at Jack Holms Unknown
William Samuel April 26, 1891 at Scima[?] Hill Church Homicide
Richard Mims August 1, 1899 at the plantation of Mrs. H. Carter Accident
James Thomas colored July 20, 1869 at Liberty Hill County Homicide
infant child infant child August 5, 1878 at the residence of H J Wright Homicide
Henry Jennings September 14, 1891 at the residense of diceased Natural Causes
Jno. C Swearingin April 24, 1895 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Lilla Olophant female infant August 18, 1879 at Simpton[?] Pinns[?] Accident
Richard Lundy December 7, 1891 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Dave Gillam August 25, 1892 at the house of Cal Smiths Homicide
Edmond Price April 30, 1892 at Kennys Graveyard Unknown
Levi S. Mathews July 13, 1892 at G. C. Wheerles[?] Residence Natural Causes
Mary Grace Aldrich infant child August 11, 1856 at Graniteville Homicide
Infred Padgett July 12, 1848 at the Joal of Edgefield Natural Causes
Charley Ryan May 9, 1892 at T. H. Ramsford Plantion Homicide
infant child infant child November 23, 1891 at the plantation of Willis Owdom[?] 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