Natural Causes

The “hand of God” is an active presence in CSI:D files. To be sure, the Almighty took no part in the suicides and homicides; those were the work of men “not having God Before [their] Eyes But moved by the instigation of the Devil.” Deaths that could be traced to what we would call ‘natural causes,’ however, were typically deemed an ‘act of God,’ a ‘visitation by God,’ or the ‘dispensation of Providence.’

Such cases expand on the point made in the introduction that coroners' inquests paint a very particular portrait of death in the nineteenth-century South. The stock and trade of the coroner's office were sudden deaths, especially those that intruded upon the public view. An old man succumbing to slow cancer in his own home was unsuspicious and unlikely to be investigated. This explains why heart attacks and strokes (which they called apoplexy) figure more prominently than fever among the ‘hand of God’ cases in these files. It also explains the relative frequency of deaths that occurred out-of-doors. Daniel Brown died in his cotton field; Jane Laniere died “in the woods near the public road”; Hartwell Roper “fell dead ... at his plow.”

The words ‘Hand of God’ were also used in cases where the deceased had been struck by lightning. (In perhaps the strangest case, Broderick Mason and his enslaved girl, Cinthy, were killed by the same lightning bolt, a sure sign that God does not play favorites.) Despite the similarity in terminology, however, lightning deaths have been filed as accidents because, like cave ins and train crashes, they are cases of people simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time and however ‘natural’ they might seem they are not a ‘natural death.’

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Natural Causes Inquests

Displaying 1 - 50 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Method Inquest Finding
Aaron old negro man slave February 23, 1858 in J[?] M Gadbury's[?] plantation, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say. . . that the said negro came to his death in a manner unknown

Aaron Oxner October 11, 1877 at Shelton, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that in their opinion & from the[?] best information that Aaron Oxner came to his death from Appoplexy

Abby February 28, 1840 at Thomas Carters, Laurens County, SC

do Say upon their oaths that the said negro woman Abby, on the 28th Inst 1840 at Thomas Carters in the District afforesaid was found dead and that She dyed by the visitation of god in a natural way & not otherwise.

Abner Nelson December 31, 1849 at the House of abner nelson, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . . the said Abner Nelson died a natural death as we believe from old age an of god

Abraham Ison July 17, 1855 at Abraham Ison's House, Union County, SC

upon there Oaths do say . . .that the Deceased came to his death by the act of God

Abram slave October 8, 1860 at the Residence of H. B. Raborns, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that. . .the said Abram a slave of H Gallman. . .came to his death by some internal deseased unknown

Abram Alston near Dawkins, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Abram Alston manner and form aforsaid came to his death from natural causes

Adam Eubanks April 19, 1894 at the residence of the deceased, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Adam Eubanks died from natural causes on the night of the 18th April 1894 at his residence

Adeline Terry February 6, 1883 at Henry Grant's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do Say That the said Adline Terry came to her death from som caus or causes unknown to the jurors

Albert Watson June 15, 1892 at the plantation of W.B. Maffett, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Albert Watson came to his death from Natural Causes

Alex Black October 27, 1884 at Philadelphia in Spartanburg County, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death from disease of the brain in his field some two hundred yards from his house

Alex White September 26, 1899 at M. C. Rays SC, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thare oath do Say that Alx White deceast came to his death By some unknown causes

Alexander Black November 14, 1863 at the house of A. W. Black, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said decd came to his death . . . by the act of God unknown to them

Alexander Moore May 22, 1889 at Wellford, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased Alexander Moore came to his death from the evidence given and our belief [is] that he died of apoplexy

Alexander P. Kennard February 16, 1847 in the District, Edgefield County, SC

do say upon their Oaths, that they do believe that he died of Cramp of the Stomach or in an Appoplectic fit

Alexander T. Johnson December 2, 1895 at the residence of M.J. Johnson, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that Alexander T Johnson deceast came to his death from or with Bodily Deyses

Alice Miller November 16, 1893 in Alice Miller's house, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death from Heart Disease and that no violence of any kind was used by any person.

Allen Melton January 6, 1893 at the residence of Mr. James Cottege, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do says that it is their belief that Allen Melton came to his death from natural causes - in all probability - form failure of the heart to perform its proper functions

Amanda Ellerbe July 31, 1881 at the residence of John Ellerbe, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Amanda Ellerbe came to her death by natural causes or the visitation of God

Amanda Glover August 30, 1892 at Mr Pofse[?] Lotts Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say That Amanda Glover came to her death from hart Failure

Amanda Hogan May 11, 1898 at the late residence of Miss Amanda Hogan, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Amanda Hogan came to her death from natural and providential causes

Amanda Lester December 13, 1884 near Pelham, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say Amanda Lester came to her death from heart disease

Amilia Ruffin August 7, 1880 at S.W. Ruffs, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the aforsaid Amilia Ruffin came to her death July the 23d 1880; from natural causes to the jurors unknow,

Amos Lee July 10, 1852 at Amos Lee's, Union County, SC

upon ther oaths do say . . .that the said Amos Lee Come to his death by the act of God

Amy Crawford February 2, 1890 at Neal Crawford, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thire oaths do say that he Said Aimie Crawford came to her death by some cause or causes to this jury unknown

Amy Thompson June 12, 1878 at or near Shelton, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the Said Amy Thompson came to her Death from Disease of the Heart.

Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say: That the child Came to its death from causes unknown

Anarky Thompson at Joe Freshleys, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from diseas of the heart called osfication of the valve of the heart, on the plantation of Joe Freshley, in Fairfield County SoC. The 1st of May 1884.

Andrew Boney July 26, 1879 at Ridgeway, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that from the Certificate of two Physicians who reached him in his dying moment that he come to his death from Heart disease[.]

Aneliza Perdue January 31, 1913 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Aneliza Perdue did come to her death by Natural causes

Angeline Allen February 27, 1899 at A.L. Sims', Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that we are convinced that the above Angeline Allen came to her death from natural causes

Ann Eliza Loid June 29, 1891 at William Loid's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths Do say that Said Lizar Loid came to her Death from Heart Disease By falling on the floor on the 28th June 1891

Ann Funderburk August 27, 1880 at Oak Hill Grave Yard, Chesterfield County, SC

upon oaths do say that the said Ann Funderburk died on the 14th Aug A.D. 1880 of natural causes.

Anna Braboy January 13, 1894 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Anna Braboy came to her death from natural causes

Anna G. Cason June 10, 1883 at Williamston, Anderson County, SC

do say that the death of said Anna Cason (after hearing the testimony) was caused by disease of the heart.

Annie Jefferson January 19, 1892 at Bary Rosie, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the Said Anna Jefferson came to her death form some cause or causes to the Jury unknown

Answorth Middleton December 3, 1816 at James Boyds, Laurens County, SC

Do say that he the said Answorth Middleton came to his Ende by the hand of god.

Arlen Blakney Watson February 2, 1902 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Arthur R. Hill January 1, 1883 at Mrs F[?] Browns place, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Arthur R Hill came to his death on the 1st day of January AD 1883 by some sickness...

Auguiste Campbell October 30, 1868 at Auguiste Campbell's, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the Decd. Auguiste Campbell came to his death, from the continual use of peach brandy, he the decd. Being advanced in years to old age & feeble constitution & that the use of sd. Intoxicating brandy, drank from Monday morning the 26th Inst. to the time of his death was the cause of sd. death.

Austin King October 27, 1890 at Laurens CH., Laurens County, SC

by their oaths do say that the said Austin King came to his death "From heart disease."

Authur Lee Johnson October 1, 1904 at the place of Mary Cassidy, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

B. C. Bryan March 16, 1884 at B C Bryan Residence, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say. . .that the said B C Bryan Come to his death. . .from disease of the Heart

B. J. Mims January 20, 1885 at the Residence of Capt B J Mims, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to his death by the visitations of Providence from heart disease

Baby Roscoe June 18, 1934 at Ruby & Hartsville Cross Roads, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Still Born

Barbra Franklin June 6, 1898 near Swift Creek Colored Baptist Church, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said barbra Franklin of the said county and said state on the Evening of the fifth day of June 1898 Did come to her death from natural causes

Beller McAlester March 11, 1876 at house of deceased, Anderson County, SC

do say that she came to her death by the act of God in a applect fitt [sic]

Ben Harris July 8, 1910 at McBee, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that he came to his death form natural causes

Ben Shubrick col December 24, 1869 at Negro heade Lane, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That they find that the said Ben Shubrick col came to his death by the act of Providence

Benjamin Bishop November 26, 1840 taken one mile and a half south of the [?] on the main road leading to Jones' ford on Enoree[?] river, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Benjamin Bishop. . . at a place in the woods near the main road. . . died by the visitation of God in a natural way

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