On the 12th of August 1878, two Edgefield County families has a shootout here that left three persons dead on the Square and four others badly wounded. The Booth and Toney families were from the eastern side of the county near Trenton. There had been bad blood between them, dating back to 1869 when Benjamin Booth killed Luther Toney.
Thousands of people from all over this part of South Carolina had come to Edgefield on that August day to celebrate the second anniversary of the Election of 1876, when Governor Hampton has been elected and the state "redeemed" from "Radical Republican" rule. The Booths and Toneys were among those who attended the festivities.
In the mid-afternoon, when Brooker and Mark Toney were in the bar room of A.A. Clisby which was located on this site, Benjamin Booth, his son Tim, and brother Sampson entered the front door. At the same time, Benjamin's other two brothers, Jim and Marion, entered the back door. The owner of the store saw Jim and Marion at the back door and, knowing that the Toneys were already in the bar room, stopped these Booths, saying that he did not want any "fuss" in his store.
About that time, shooting broke out in the front room of the building between Brooker and Mark Toney, on the one hand, and Benjamin, Tom and Sampson Booth on the other. The fighting spilled out into the street, with as many as forty shots being fired. When the shooting ended, Brooker Toney lay dead on the Square; Tom Booth lay dead on the sidewalk in front of Lynch's store (right next door), and Jim Booth lay dead on the sidewalk in front of the Advertiser office (where the Public Library is now located). Benjamin Booth, Mary Toney, W.L. Coleman and Wade Lott were all wounded in the affray.
Subsequently, nine men involved in the shooting were indicted and tried for murder. Many of the prominent lawyers of Edgefield, including U.S. Senator and former General M.C. Butler, State Senator and former General M.W. Gary, Speaker of the House and Governor-to-Be John C. Sheppard, and Solicitor John R. Abney, participated in either the prosecution of the defense. The jury ultimately rendered "Not Guilty" verdicts against all defendants. The trial is perhaps, in some measure, responsible for the adage "Juries in Edgefield understand the idiosyncrasies of a gentleman."
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