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 101 - 150 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
twin infants September 15, 1889 at Rosa Foster's, Spartanburg County, SC

do say that the twin children were stillborn & that no violence has been practiced

Jesse Woods September 3, 1870 at Lewis Dial, Laurens County, SC

we do say he came to his Death by Dropsey the act of God

Joel W. Warren November 9, 1894 at Joseph Mirren[?] House, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say and belief that he Joel W. Warren came to his death by heart failure

T. A. Parker June 2, 1897 at the Residence of J. L. Johnson, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oath doo say that T.A. Parker deceast came to hir death we find that the deceast came to hir death from natural causes we find that the deceast came to hir death from natural causes

John McDonald April 15, 1839 at Daniel McDonalds, Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths that they believe the said John McDonald ... being a youth in the district aforesaid there & then died of the visitation of God

Charles Aiken at the Bell place, Fairfield County, SC

upo their Oaths do say that the deceased Charles Aiken, came to his death form Rupture of a blood vesel at Narthers Church[.]

Venus female slave November 9, 1848 at John Harrises, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .the disceased was a person advanced in life, and had at time been complaining of a Smothering Sensation at night and . . .Came to her death by a visitation of god

Emma Bennett July 10, 1888 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Emma Benitt came to her death by Som natural caus or causes to the Jury unknown

Morriss unknown free man of color January 7, 1858 at Grief Tater's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say the said that Morris (a free man of color)?more than probably came to his death by dropsy of the heart

Rachael Watts July 29, 1889 at W.B. Fullers place near Cross Hill, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that near the Residence of W. B. Fuller in above state and county on the 29th July 1889 the said Rachael Watts came to her death by "Visitation of God."

Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death from rheumatism of the Heart ... by natural causes

infant December 24, 1882 at the residence of Miss Mary Bridges, Spartanburg County, SC
Samuel Threatt November 4, 1892 at Samuel Threatt's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths Do say," that the Deceased came to his Death by some unknown cause to them

Elisha Farless[?] September 15, 1847 at Robert Youngers Mill house, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the siad Elisha Farleys[?] died on the 14th[?] instant past at or in the Mill house of Robert Yongers[?] was found dead that he had no markes of violence appearing on his body and died by the visitation of God in a natural way

infant child infant child February 28, 1877 at Greenville CH, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said infant child of Ella Mitchell came to his death caused by congestion of the liver stomach & bowels

James Harmon March 4, 1841 near[?] Nichara[?] Gordon's, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they cannot find no marks of Violence upon him and he died by the visitation of god in a natural way and not otherwise

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant February 23, 1883 at Chesterfield C. H., Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say That the said Infant Child came to his death from som cause or causes unknown to the Jurors and that there was no foul play

Dolly Glenn at the Doly place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceasd came to her death at the home of Joe Jackson the 21st of Aug 1892 from some Natural Causes[.]

Chaney negro woman December 11, 1855 at the dwelling house of Mrs Randall in the Town of Hamburg, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that Chaney, the woman now lying dead before them came to her death by the Visitation of God

Mittie Mitchell September 19, 1902 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Edmund Chambers November 18, 1819 at the house of Edmund Chambers, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the aforesaid Edmund Chambers. . .died by the visitation of God

Wiley W. Gandy November 18, 1912 at Steer Pen, Chesterfield County, SC

the Said W W Gandy came to his death we find that the deceast W W Gandy came to his death by 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]

Charles Young July 16, 1885 at Anderson's Mills, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Charles Young came to his death from Apoplexy near Anderson's Mills

Quash May 11, 1815 at the House Genl. John. Y. Wolff, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their Oaths that the aforesaid Negro Man Quash from all appearances as exhibited to this Jury of Inquest did by the act of God - The testimony of Mr Alexander Mahoffy who saw him a few minutes before his death, "he thinks about nine oclock P.M. of the 10th Inst & Genl. John Y. Wolff a few minutes after his death, he thinks about 12 Oclock of the same day - induced the Jury to give their verdict" That the Decsd. came to his death by the Act of God.

Sallie Busch August 21, 1892 at Lewis Beans plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That she came to her death from heart failure

Malsey A. Blakeny August 12, 1894 at the house of W. E. Courtney, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say "that she came to her death by an act of Providence"

Jacob Belue July 31, 1882 at Jacob Belues, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Jacob Belue came to his death from congestion of the lungs

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[.]

Loverberry B. Musgrove October 9, 1866 at the residence of Ms. James, Widow, near the Court House, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Loveberry B. Musgrove, at the residence of Mrs. James, Widow, . . .did die by visitation of Almight God

Infant of J. L. Hancock Infant of J. L. Hancock March 3, 1899 at J.S. Oliver's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: the child come to its death by natural causes

Silvia October 10, 1857 at the House of J.s. W. Holliday, Horry County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the said Silvia a slave Came to her death by the Visitation of God

Bob negro September 23, 1864 in the District, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say and dclare that the said Bob came to his death by the Visitation of God

Edward Bownes April 30, 1874 at Cheraw, S. C., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Edward Bownes came to his death by sum caus or causes to them unknown at His Residence in Cheraw in the 24 day of April A.D. 1874

John S. Collins May 29, 1870 at Mr. John S. Collin's residence, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the sd. J.S. Collins came to his death by the hand of God

David Hall October 26, 1931 at McBee, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That david Hall come to his death by natural causes

Sarah Bressey September 14, 1857 at [?] Village, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . . she came to her death . . . by a natural death.

Nancy Montjoy October 13, 1889 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she the said Nancy Montjoy came to her death from natural causes, probably disease of the heart

Lewis Dial October 20, 1870 at Laurens C.H., Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say on examining and viewing the body of Lewis Dial, this day found dead in the garden of J.M. Boyd, and from competent medical examination, we find that the said deceased came to his death by the visitation of God.

infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said infant didid from natural cause or by the hand god

Rose Brodie June 5, 1897 on MacFarland plantation, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Rose Brodie came to her death by from natural causes

John McDaniel May 31, 1839 at McCaskill's graveyard, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say we found upon examination of the body of John McDaniel no cause nor have heard any testimony to lead us to believe that he cam eto his death otherwise than by 'a visitiation of God'

Rachel Manigun at Feasterville, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that Rachel Manigon[?] died from a stroke of apoplexy on the 4th of Apr. A.D. 1887, at her home on the plantation of J.B. [?][.]

Jane Wisher September 30, 1848 at the residence of Mrs. Jane Wisher, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say from the widow of Elisabeth Wisher that the deceased was an oald person and had for some years past been afflicted with what had been cauled palpitation of the heart and [?] and was complaining . . .came to her death by a visitation of god

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

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