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.’

NEXT: Meet the Coroners

 

Natural Causes Inquests

Displaying 201 - 250 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
George Roberts May 2, 1896 Laurens County, SC

we the Jury Empannelled in the case of the State vs dead body of George Roberts find that he died From Heart failure

Hardy McKinney freedman July 28, 1867 at an old field near F. Wyne's, Anderson County, SC

do say that said decd being diseased came to his death by the visitation of God

William Fisher September 12, 1855 at the home of Sarah Vanderford, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . .that they are of opinion that the Said William Fisher died a natural death by [?] and by the act of God

Briant King May 16, 1861 at the resident of W. D. H. McHaughton, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that on the 16th day of May 1861 in the field at home while at work [Briant] came to his death by none other than a visition of providence

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

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

Ranse Lowry July 21, 1888 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

The finding of the Jury is that the deceased came to his death by mischance

George Jefferis near Crosbyville, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that in their opinion George Jefferis came to his death from appoplexy

Infant of Susie Redfern Infant of Susie Redfern at Mt. Croghan, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

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

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

Doreas Mobley May 18, 1870 at the house of Mrs. Doreas Mobley, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Dorene Mobley on the 18th day of May in the year One thousand Eigth Hundred and Seventy at her house in the county aforesaid, was found dead, that she had no marks of violence upon her, and died by the visitation of God in a natural way, and not otherwise.

Josephine Smith October 12, 1890 on the plantation of M.B. Pool, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Josephine Smith from some natural cause unknown to the jury.

Lou Terry November 25, 1884 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that [she] came to her death from natural causes

Sally Williams July 19, 1880 n.a., Anderson County, SC

find her lungs badly affected and diseased came to her death from consumption & had consumption badly.

Eva Lyons February 9, 1880 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . . the Dec'd came to her death from Laranges[?] Tracheitis or inflamation of the wind pipe.

Major negro man the property of no person July 29, 1845 at the plantation of Miss M. J. Rogers, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the above named Major came to his death by the act of God,

Liberty slave August 1, 1843 at John Murph's, Spartanburg County, SC

do say uppon [sic] their oaths that he was found in his house lying dead on the floor and came to his death by the act of God

Wade Barronton October 8, 1860 at Wade Barrontons Residence, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Wade Barronton came to his death. . .by the Visitation of God

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

Ned Redfern January 24, 1916 at Evans Mill, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: natural causes

Ely Edwards at Ridgeway, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that we the jurors after viewing the body of Ely Edwards & hearing the testimony in the [?] Believe that his death was the result of natural causes on the night of Dec 14th 1893 about Eleven oclock[.]

Child of Mary Muree Child of Mary Muree October 8, 1833 at the meeting house nown by the name of Pleasant Hill, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oaths, the affore said child then and their died of the visitation of God, and not otherwise.

Sarah Martin July 14, 1844 at residence of Mrs. Sarah Martin, Anderson County, SC

do say that the above named Sarah Martin came to her death by the hand 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

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

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,

Borough August 21, 1853 on the high Road near Marengo, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he had no marks of violence upon him and that he died by the visitation of God & not otherwise.

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

Tench Henson June 8, 1868 at Josepth Moor's, Greenville County, SC

upon there oaths do say that it was the act of Providence

Milly Roler November 2, 1819 Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths [that] the said Milley Roler came to her Death by the act of God as far we know

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

Edward Fuller July 30, 1880 at Spartanburg C.H., Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Edw. O Fuller ... came to his death from conjestion of the brain or other natural cause

J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H., Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased J D Wells came to his death from Heart disease

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

William L. Collins January 9, 1887 at Chesterfield County, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Georgiana Williams Moore July 26, 1882 at TS Langston's plantation, Laurens County, SC

upon their oathes do say that the said Georgiana William Moore came to her death by a visitation of God and died of Embolism of the heart.

infant January 13, 1868 at Anderson Court House, Anderson County, SC

do say that the infant was a premature birth and born dead

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

Mary Champion November 10, 1870 at Camden, Camden, S.C., Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that [the] deceased came to her death by a visitation or the act of God

John Brown December 20, 1844 at the house of John Brown, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that. . .the aforesaid John Brown came to his death by mischance or misfortune by the act of God, unknown to the Jurors

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

W. G. Rivers June 15, 1888 at F. W. Rivers, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said W J Rivers came to his death by som natural caus or causes to the jury unknown

John Wallcot at Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their Oaths that the deceased came to his death in Winnsboro SC the 7 of Jan 1889 from heart diseas.

Infant of Dissie Adams Infant of Dissie Adams May 5, 1912 at W. C. Adams place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: He came to his death from natural cause in feble condition after birth

Levi S. Mathews July 13, 1892 at G. C. Wheerles[?] Residence, Edgefield County, SC

upon their do Say. . .that the aforesaid Levi S. Mathews. . .Came to his death from hart Failure

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

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

Edward William Davis September 29, 1870 at Ridgeway, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Edward William Davis. "came to his death by a Pulmonary Congestion with Hemorrhage caused from heart disease

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."

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

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

Get in touch

  • Department of History
    220 LeConte Hall, Baldwin Street
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602-1602
  • 706-542-2053
  • admin@ehistory.org

eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry

Learn More about eHistory

Supporters

+ American Council of Learned Societies
+ DigiLab, Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, University of Georgia