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The Legend of Becky Cotton | Edgefield SC

The legend of Becky Cotton is quite well known in Edgefield SC. This late-18th-century Black Widow murdered her first husband with an axe to the head, another with a knife and yet another with poisoned herbs. She even eluded a murder conviction and married one of the jurors, who subsequently became a victim. Like all good tales of murder and deceit, this one has a haunted twist. People say that the wails of her murdered husbands can be heard from her favorite dumping ground, Beck’s Hole in present-day Slade Lake. Others say that Becky’s ghost haunts the area looking for her next husband. Whether or not the hauntings are true, her story is quite the saga.  
Join us as we introduce you to the Devil in Petticoats, Becky Cotton!

We would like to extend a very special thank you to The Main Street Players in Edgefield SC for reenacting scenes from their play The Devil in Petticoats, by local playwright Tricia Glenn.

Interesting Facts About Becky Cotton

  • 1 Becky Cotton is also known as The Devil in Petticoats.
  • 2 Becky killed her first husband, John Cotton, with an axe to the head while he was sleeping, circa 1794.
  • 3 Not only was Becky acquitted of John’s murder, but she was also granted administrator of her late husband’s estate, a ruling that was quite rare in these times.
  • 4 In Becky’s time, Beck’s Hole was known as Beaverdam Creek. This is where she weighted her victims’ bodies down with bricks and sank them to the bottom of the creek.
  • 5 Becky was murdered by her brother on May 5, 1807, on the steps of the courthouse. He hit her on the head with a rock while she was flirting with another young man, thus saving his life. Her brother never went to trial for Becky’s murder.

While in the Area

While in Edgefield, you must visit their gorgeous downtown square. We had lunch at Park Row Market No. 1, and the food was just divine. We also indulged in a taste-testing at the Carolina Moon Distillery, where they have everything from bourbon to different flavors of moonshine, all made right there in Edgefield SC at the distillery. Here, you can even get your very own bottle of Becky Cotton Gin! No visit to Edgefield is complete without a visit to The Edgefield General Store.  Find your one-of-a-kind Edgefield souvenirs and even enjoy an ice cream float at the soda fountain. Edgefield SC exemplifies Southern Hospitality! Tell them that Stories, Secrets and Sagas sent you!

Visit Edgefield SC

Check out our episode on the Barnwell Sundial!