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 451 - 500 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Method Inquest Finding
Pulaskey slave, boy March 30, 1848 at the plantation of J. F> Hill, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that we believe the boy died of disease (Influenza) from the history of the Case

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.

R. H. Crawford January 26, 1894 at Elisha Boans, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the deceased R.H. Crawford came to his death from some natural cause or causes unknown to me

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."

Rachel Dullivan January 30, 1890 at Rachel Dullivan Residence, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Rachel Dullivan came to her death from natural cause (Heart disease).

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. [?][.]

Rachell Smith at the McDowell place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from dissease of the heart.

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

Rebeca Eidson May 29, 1861 at the Residence of William Eidson, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that it is made evident to theme that the said deceased came to here death. . .from Congestion Pneumonia

Reuben Brewton January 3, 1880 near Switzer's Bridge, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Reuben Brewton came to his death ... from disease unknown to them inflicted by the hand of God

Reuben Johnson March 11, 1881 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths ... do say that the said Reuben Johnson ... came to his death from natural causes

Reubin Weaver December 28, 1895 at Elijah Boatwrights Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say, that Reubin Weaver aforesaid came to his death from heart failure

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

Richard Lewis January 4, 1910 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That he came to his death from natural causes

Richard Stevens February 21, 1898 at Johnston S.C., Edgefield County, SC

upon their Oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Dick Stevens died. . .from visitation of God

Robert Inglish April 25, 1891 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the Said Robert Inglish came to his death form hart disease

Robert Jordan December 3, 1900 at Mount Croghan, Chesterfield County, SC

from the verdict of witness I do note deem it necsary to hold an inquest but from such witnesses find that the Sed Robrt Jordan came to his ath from natural causes Decmbr 3 1900

Robert Vandever May 16, 1879 at Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the deceased came to his death on or about the 12th of May AD 1879 in the town of Winnsboro S.C from disease of the heart

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

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

Rose Watts December 8, 1891 at Mountville, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Rose Watts came to her death by misfortune or the act of God.

Roster slave July 27, 1844 at Fielden Clayton's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon thear [sic] oathes [sic] that the said Roster. . .was found dead, that she had no marks of violence upon her, and died by the visitation of God

S. D. Lawton July 19, 1911 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

S. D. Lawton suddenly, without any bad natural causes, as far as deponent knows or believes, dropped dead

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

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

Sallie Manigo at Mrs. E.M. Turner's place, Fairfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say. That the said Sallie Manigo came to her death from some natural cause unknown to the Jury.

Sallie McDowell August 12, 1882 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that ... Sallie McDowell died of indigestion

Sallie Perdew January 5, 1902 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

I have this day helt a prliminary ex amination over the dad body of Sallie Prdew and from witnesses find that She Came to her dath nothing other than heart faleior or Change of life this the 4 and 5 days of January 1902

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[.]

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

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.

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.

Sam Clark near Lyles Ford, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that in their opinion Sam Clark came to his death from Heart diseas

Samuel Flagg February 18, 1833 near Wilson's old field, Spartanburg County, SC

after examining the body of the sd. dec'd & finding no marks fo violence committed beleave [sic] that he was brought to his death by the visitation of God

Samuel Kelso December 21, 1817 at the plantation of Sam'l Kelso, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that. . .he came to his death by an act of God being subject to something like a apoplexy for some time previous to his death

Samuel Mitchell April 10, 1837 on the plantation of Robert Glen, Union County, SC

do say upon thear Oaths that the Sd Samul Mitchell . . .at a Spring . . . was found dead . . .and died by the visitation of God in a natural way

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

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.

Sarah Acock February 25, 1881 at D. R. Davison, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the said Sarah Acock came to her deathby some caus or causes unknown to the Jury

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.

Sarah Ellen Oliver January 2, 1904 at J. W. Crawley's place, Chesterfield County, SC

from the examination and testimony believe that she came to her death from natural causes.

Sarah Johnson July 8, 1893 at Hebron Church, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said Sarah Johnson came to her death from natural causes

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.

Sarilla Coleman August 5, 1880 at the residence of Henry Jeffares, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that in their opinion Savilla Coleman came to her death from apoplexy or congestion of the brain.

Saul Bates January 24, 1815 at James Johnsons mill, Laurens County, SC

do say on their oaths are of the opinion that the sd. Saul Betts on the 24th of Jany. 1815 Came to his death by the Act of God at James Johnsons mill in the district afore sd.

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

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.

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

Sharp infant male child June 5, 1861 at Wm Bovels[?], Union County, SC

uppon there oaths do say that . . .we conclud that Decsd Came to its Death by the hand of the Almighty

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

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