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 151 - 200 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort ascending Inquest Finding
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

Infant of G. R. C. Baskins Infant of G. R. C. Baskins February 18, 1905 at E. W. Gulledge's place, Chesterfield County, SC

their oath say that the said William H. Baskin infant Died . . . from Natural Causes.

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.

Lizza colered woman October 7, 1866 at the house of Thomas S. Miller, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the deceased died from a desease of the Heart

Isaac F. Swinney March 12, 1875 at Chesterfield C. H., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: the under verdict that the deceased Isaac F Swinney came to his death from some natural cause

J. H. Vandike May 20, 1877 at Crawfordville, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they are satisfied that the aforesaid Col. J.H. Vandike came to his death from apoplexy while riding along the road

Betty Gene Mangum December 19, 1934 at Pageland, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

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

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

Sealy Henry July 1, 1873 Laurens County, SC

we the under named jurors do find in accordance with the opinion of Dr. S. S. Knight. By disease most probably epilepsy caused her death.

Mid[?] Griffin February 2, 1895 at the Govelace[?] Place, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the Aforesaid Mid Griffin came to his death by Heart failure

Silvy Holmes at Ben Glenn's place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that Silvy Homes came to her death at her daughters Residence at the night of 28th of April AD 1887 from Providential Visitation[.]

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

Peggy slave March 28, 1841 at Mr. Adamson's plantation, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that we find upon examination that [the] negro woman called Peggy Adamson the property of Mrs. Adamson ... came to her death by the visitation of the Divine providence

Joseph Moore Jr. April 19, 1846 at the house of Dr John D. Nicholson, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Joseph Moore Jr came to his death by the rupture of a blood vessel of the lungs

Chasey Futrul May 4, 1888 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Chasey Futrul came to her death by Som natural caus or causs to the jury unknown and she dide on the 4 day of May 1888

Samuel Ward July 19, 1859 at Church Cross Roads, Anderson County, SC

do say that he came to his death by the visitation of providence him being an old man between 75 & 80 years of age.

Henry Williams October 13, 1889 at the Plantation of C.C. Garlington, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Henry Williams came to his death by "Natural Causes."

Mary Gillam January 1, 1891 at Mrs Francis Wrights Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the said Mary Gillam came to her death from Rhumatism from the Heart

William H. Lancaster September 19, 1883 at the residence of Jas. Giddes, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the aforesaid William H. Lancaster ... came to his death from disease of the heart

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

Madison Harper September 23, 1867 at the residence of R.E. Ellison, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Madison Harper came to his death from disease by the visitation 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

Jim slave October 4, 1858 at Giles Sharps, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Jim came to his death for some cause unknown or the visitation of god

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant April 26, 1888 at Margret Bouer, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Infant Child came to her death by being accidently Smothered and that it dide on the 26th day of A D 1888

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

Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, they believe the said slave Rhoda came to her death by some invisible and unknown cause or causes; perhaps a disease of the heart

Bird Yarbor December 20, 1903 at McBee, SC, Chesterfield County, SC

the deceased -- Bird Yarbor -- came to his death by heart failure or some natural cause.

Jacob Briges September 18, 1832 at the house of Jacob Briges, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that it was the visitation of God

Prince Crawford November 29, 1916 at Pageland, Chesterfield County, SC

Prince Crawford came to his death from natural causes

John Williams February 9, 1879 at the house of Newton Perry [?] on the plantation of Thomas Cox, Anderson County, SC

do say, that deceased [John Williams] came to his death by dropsical affiction.

Betsey Wingo June 9, 1886 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the said Betsey Wingo came to her death by the rupture of an aneurism in the right subclavian artery

Dick August 13, 1818 on the plantation of John Boyd, Laurens County, SC

the said Dick came to his death by the Act of God do Say upon their oaths here inserted.

James Leppard February 13, 1893 at F. M. Leppards, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say. . .the deceased came to his death by Rheumation of the heart

Sabia Covington January 14, 1895 at Chesterfield C. H., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Sabia Covington came to her death from some natural cause or causes Unknown to them

Charles Goswell February 9, 1883 at John Goswell's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say the said Charles Goswell came to his death from natural causes unknown to the Jury

Matilda Hall June 28, 1880 at residence of deceased on plantation of C.S. Brice, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Matilda Hall came to her death by heart disease,-the act of Almighty God.

Christopher Norral January 5, 1815 at the Dweling house of John Norals, Union County, SC

say on their oaths that the Said Christopher Norral Came to his Death By the act of God

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant June 4, 1868 at FW Gaylords, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said child was still born. . .

Bessie Marshal child November 22, 1893 at Henry Foster's, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say "that Bessie Marshal came to her death by the hand of Providence, at the house of Henry Foster, on the 22nd day of November 1893."

George Hatcher freedman June 19, 1867 at B. W. Hatchers Mill on Shaws creek, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oath do say that George came to his death by some disease unknown to the Jurors

Nancy Therrel February 19, 1876 at Mr. John Therrels, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Nacy Therel came to her death by some natural caus unknown to the jury

Elijah M. Cooper August 25, 1877 at the residence of Elijah M. Cooper, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said E.M. Cooper came to his death. . .while engaged at work on his fieds near his residence from some cause which the jury believes to have been disease of the heart

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