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 Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
Ellison Blakney October 4, 1896 at Hick's Mine Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Ellison Blakney came to his death from heart trouble

Lydia Parish December 6, 1835 at the house of Mrs. L. Parrish on Rutledge Street in the town of Camden, Kershaw County, SC

find no reason to suppose the deceased came to her death otherwise than by the act of God or in the course of nature from diesease the particular character of which is unknown to us

Sallie Walker at M.J. Steel's[?] place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say tha the deceased Sallie Walker came to her death from heart diseas on the Plantation of Mrs M.J. Slide[.]

negro child negro child July 13, 1835 at the house or on the plantation of Charles Humphries, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that The said child . . .died by the visitation of God in a natural way

James Drake December 7, 1854 at residence of James Drake, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said James Drake came to his death by the hand of God

Luvenia Elmore March 15, 1883 at J A Fergusons place, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the cause of her death on the 14th day of March AD. 1883 on J A Fergusons place in Laurens County from Congestion.

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

Mary Adams September 23, 1885 at Mary Adams, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Mary Adams came to her death by Sum natural caus or causes unknow to the jurys

Mariah Pincy July 10, 1881 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that said Mariah Princey ... came to her death from heart disease

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

May March 20, 1832 at the plantation of Doctor William Bratton on Wateree Creek, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths, that according to the evidence adduced to them, they believe that on the 19th instant in a field where the said May was breaking Cotton Halks, he was taken with an appoplectic fit and expired in an instant

Sally Foster April 14, 1876 at Flora[?] Manwell[?], Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Sally Foster died of Epileptic Convulsion or as is more commonly called Fitts

negro child negro child January 16, 1854 at [???], Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths . . .that it came to its death by the visitation of God

Ephram Ashford at [?], Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to his death at his home from heart failure

Sam negro, slave September 18, 1846 at the residence of Mrs Nancy Delaughter, Edgefield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say. . .died by the visitation of God.

Laura Doneyhue October 17, 1901 at the Plantation of Geo Gregory, M.D., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: nothin other than natural causes

Henry Shaw April 14, 1899 at the place of R. W. Humphries, Kershaw County, SC
Ben Harris July 8, 1910 at McBee, Chesterfield County, SC

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

Eber B. Stevens March 5, 1873 at Pendleton, Anderson County, SC

do say . . . by a visitation of God

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

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

Jerry July 11, 1811 at the plantation of James Glen, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oathes, that they are of opinion that the said Negro boy died a Natural Death

Jack Taylor April 11, 1892 at the house of Hal[?] Miles, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Jack Taylor. . .came to his death by the act of God. He having died from old age 84 years and having hearty failure bleeding Hemorage of the lungs and asthma

Infant February 3, 1894 at J. B. Presson's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That it came to its death by natural causes sometime between midnight and day on Feb the 3rd 1894

Emmar McDonald daughter November 27, 1881 at William McDonald's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the sd Emma [?] McDonald came to her death by asphyxia of the brain, or some unknown cause

Lucinda Scott September 9, 1878 at P. Hastings' Plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Lucinda Scott came to her death at the house of John Scott; on P. Hastings plantation. September 8th 1878. from hemorrhages of the Lungs.

Matt negro man February 9, 1832 on the plantation of Doct. Jas Macham, Union County, SC

do say upon there Oaths that the Said negro . . .died with the visitation of God in a natural way

Scott Infant Child Scott Infant Child July 30, 1891 at W. A. Buchanan's Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said Infant child came to its death form natural cause or causes to this Jury unknown

Jane Owens at Ms. Helen Smith's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say She died from a paroxism of asthma

John G. Riddle July 3, 1860 at the residence of Mr Richard Burton, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that John G Riddle died a natural death caused by infirmitys of old age

David S. Threatt July 15, 1924 at Dudley Chesterfield County S. C., Chesterfield County, SC

I decided that under the clear facts of the surroundings that it was unnecessary to empanel a Jury to decided how he came to his death as there was no the least suspicion or doubt that the deceased came to his death by natural causes from an affliction which usually and natural terminates fatal and suddenly.

Chanya slave December 31, 1849 at A.G.W. Gordon's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death by infirmity and old age

Shelt Gainey February 17, 1929 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

We Find du Explannation and Testimony frm Witnesses and Doctor that Deceased Shelt Gainy came to his Death from Natural Cause, Heart Trouble and Accut Indigestion from eating Fresh Pork for his supper

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.

Laban Johnson May 15, 1889 at Clifton, Spartanburg County, SC

do say that the said Laban Johnson came to his death from heart troubles brought on by natural causes

Clarisa Epps July 20, 1868 at Laurens C.H., Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the afore said Claricy Epps came to her death by the visitation of God.

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

Emaline Jackson August 27, 1894 at Dr Childs Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that from the evidence before us by misfortune and that said misfortune was caused by the bursting of an artery And So the said jurors aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Emaline Jackson came to her death in manner and form

J. W. Hunnicutt December 8, 1896 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Jenny slave April 28, 1836 Kershaw County, SC

do on their oath say that they believe she died of an apoplectic fit, the visitation of God

Wade Chappell at William Steele's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased Wade, Chappell, came to his death from an affection of the heart[.]

negro child negro child November 1, 1837 at Union C.H., Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths say that the said negro child . . .died by the visitation of God in a natural way

Harry slave July 7, 1855 at Pendleton village, Anderson County, SC

do say that we believe he came to his death by the visitation of God.

Nash Ferguson May 23, 1883 at Laurens court house, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the aforesaid Nash Ferguson came to his death on the 23d day of May AD 1883 in Laurens County from general condition of the brain and blood clots on the brain

Lizzie Greeg July 4, 1884 at Capt Taliar[?] Hearin[?], Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths aforesaid do say that the aforesaid Lizzie Greeg Came to her death from natural Causes

Grover Cassidy December 3, 1885 at W. F. Pates, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Grover Casidy came to his death on the 3d day of December A D 1885 form som nautral causes or causes unknown to the jurors

Betsy Pilgram July 2, 1882 at Woodruff, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased ... came to her death by disease of the heart

William A. Jordan December 12, 1891 at William M. Jordan's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that Said Infant came to his death from Some causes or causes to the Jury unknown

James Blackie August 17, 1836 in the house of Ezekiel Hoy, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that they believe James Blackie died on the 16th of August & and that his death was caused by a 'severe acute disease aggravated & hurried to a fatal termination by previous organic affection of all the viscera of the systems

Harry McBee May 31, 1876 at Alexander McBee's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths, do say that Harry McBee came to his . . . in the woods near the Premasis of Mr Alexander McBee . . . by the visitation of God

George Negro Slave April 19, 1830 at the house of Reps Edwards, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said George . . .died by the visitation of God in a natural way

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