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
Unknown infant Unknown infant July 14, 1879 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that , according to the evidence before them, the said infants came to this death in the house of Alie Williams on Church street in Town of Cheraw one on Saturday night the other on Sunday - both form natural causes

Mag Potee at N.D. Roberts place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceasd came to her death at her home the night of the 2d of Sept 1892 from natural causes[.]

Dudley Roundtree August 10, 1856 at the dwelling house of the late Dudley Roundtree, Edgefield County, SC

the said Dudley Roundtree came to his death. . .that the said death was by the visitation of God, and so the jury sworn and [?] as aforesaid upon their oaths declare

Sebron Miller June 30, 1903 at Jefferson, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Sebron Miller came to his deth by natural causes

Nathaniel Miller September 2, 1825 Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths aforesaid that he came to his death by an act of God

Finley Hall November 30, 1912 at Ansleydale, Chesterfield County, SC

upon theire oaths do say that the Said Finley Hall come to his death by Natural causes

Peter Williford May 2, 1876 at Daniel Williford's, Anderson County, SC

do say that some time between the hours of 3 oclock on the 1st of May 1876 and 8oclock on the 2d day of may May 1876 that the deceased came to his death by the act of God

Nesbitt Rice April 21, 1886 at Poplar Springs, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Nesbitt Rice came to his death by hand [of] god

Daniel September 17, 1816 at Reuben Meadows, Laurens County, SC

do Say upon their oaths, that he came to his death by the visitation of God then and there to wit Reuben Meadows field aforesaid he died aforesaid and not otherwise. . .

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

George Myers October 21, 1894 at Hornsboro, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the deceased Geo Myers came to his death from Heart failure

Humphrey Wilson August 26, 1882 at the residence of Humphrey Wilsons, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . . he died from a visitation of the Almighty God

Nancey Means December 22, 1879 at D.T. Gibson's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the Said Nancey Means came to her death by natural causes unknown to the Jury.

Nance infant child April 24, 1832 at the house of Benjamin Landrum, Union County, SC

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

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Charley Young June 17, 1893 on the plantation of Henry Young, Laurens County, SC

upon their oathes do say that the said Charley Young came to his death from (Heart Failure).

William Anderson April 14, 1864 at the plantation of T.[?] S Boles, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that said William Anderson came to his death by some sevear attack of disease. . .by Mischance or Visitation of God

Jackson Cartlidge October 21, 1874 at or near the Brewers gold mine, near the waters of Big Lynches Creek, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say, That it appears that the deceased Jackson Cartlidge came to his death by mischance or accident, or visitation of God.

Henry Rush June 22, 1875 Spartanburg County, SC

return our verdict that the deceased, Henry Rush, died from an attack of epilepsy

Mrs. Will Hough March 22, 1930 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

negro child negro child October 11, 1857 at T. C. Lesters, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death by strangling or choking with phlegm

Margret Branan December 15, 1889 at or on Mrs. Alice Taylor's place, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Margret Branan died ... of heart failure or affliction of the brain

Thomas Noble March 30, 1872 at the residence of Thos Noble, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do Say That Thomas Noble in the manner and form aforesaid came to his Death by the act of God.

Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation, Edgefield County, SC

the said Bluford Abney came to his death by natural causes or colic

J. M. Caddell January 31, 1898 at the Residence of the late J M Caddell, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thare oaths do Say that J M Caddell deseast came to his death from heart dease and other excitement cause from a mule Running away

Isaac slave March 4, 1841 at Col. Wm. J. Taylor's plantation, Kershaw County, SC

on their oaths due say that it was according to their belief and the evidence before them that Isaac came to his Death by the visitation of God

Robert W. Kincade December 27, 1845 at the house of Baley[?] Corley, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Robert W Kincde came to his death by a Stroke of Appoplexy in the house of Baley Corby

Benjamin Crowley January 31, 1888 at Benjamin Crowley's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Benjamin Cawley came to his death by some natural cause or causes unknown to the Jury and that he dide on the 30 day of January AD 1888

Sophia Hall March 19, 1859 at or near Samuel Martin's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that no marks of violence could be seen on her body that she the said Sphia came to her death by the hand of God.

George Blakely August 23, 1889 at Tom Youngs, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that George Blakely came to his death "Natural Causes"

infant child infant child September 9, 1891 at Wards, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say that the said infant male Child came to it death by premature birth

infant March 16, 1883 at Martha J. Adkins, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that said infant child came to his death by the hands of Providence

H. F. Nivens January 1, 1893 at John Parker, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said H.F. Nivens came to his death form some cause or causes to this Jury unknown

Fom[?] July 2, 1858 at the Rev. W. W Gwin on cedar creek, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Fom[?] came to his death by an act of (God)

L. O'Brien August 5, 1877 at Greenville CH, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Mrs. L. B. O'Brien came to her death from a natural cuase to[?] with[?] by a disease known as paralasis of the brain

Nathan Hawkins August 16, 1832 at House of Nathan Hawkins, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the Sd Nathan Hawkins . . .died by the visitation of God in a natural way

Unknown infant Unknown infant July 14, 1879 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that , according to the evidence before them, the said infants came to this death in the house of Alie Williams on Church street in Town of Cheraw one on Saturday night the other on Sunday - both form natural causes

Calline Crosby Fairfield County, SC

up pon these oths do say that She came to her death from heart failure[.]

Doublin male slave, boy April 5, 1857 at the Residence of Mrs Delila Philips, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say. . .that the deceased Doublin in manner and form aforesaid came to his death by a Providential occurrence under the influence of an apoplectic fit.

Charley Gainey November 18, 1903 at T.C. Williams', Chesterfield County, SC

the said Charley Gainey diseased came to his death from heart failure

Benjamin Wood May 8, 1829 at the house of Benjamin Wood, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that he the said Benjamin Wood came to his death by visition of God

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

George Norris November 23, 1876 at Anderson Courthouse, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said George Norris by act of God died (Consumption)

Patsey Blanton May 5, 1886 at L. Blanton's residence, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they consider the said Patsey Blanton came to her death by the providence of God

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.

Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death. . .from heart trouble

Henry Leard Bancum November 29, 1894 at W. H. Funderburk's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say That it was an act of providence from natural causes

William Cooper September 22, 1882 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .Wm T. Cooper came to his death from heart disease

Dinah Jackson April 29, 1880 at Joseph Thompson's Plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that Dinah Jackson came to her death from natural causes unknown to the jury.

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

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