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 descending Inquest Finding
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

Unknown March 26, 1875 at the residence of Mr. John Murpheys, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the death of the Child was the Act of God

M. M. Oneall December 1, 1870 at the residence of Elias E. Roberts, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Mrs. M.M. Oneall came to her death from disease of the heart

Dinah slave January 25, 1859 at the late residence of John Gregory deseast, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she died of [?] of the heart which has been protracted[?] for the last ten or twelve months

Martha McFarlan September 20, 1890 at Robert Mcfarlan, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thire oaths do say that the Said Martha McFarling came to her death from natural causes to the Jury unknown

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.

Cooper slave March 17, 1852 at the plantation of L.H. Mundy decd, Edgefield County, SC

where & when & by what means the Said Slave, Cooper came to his death By acute Gastro Duodinitis[?]

Mary Jane Rivers September 12, 1900 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

I do not deem it necessary to hold an inquest but from such evidence find that the said Mrs Jane Rivers came to her death from none other than natural causes.

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

Amy Crawford February 2, 1890 at Neal Crawford, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thire oaths do say that he Said Aimie Crawford came to her death by some cause or causes to this jury unknown

John Saylor August 6, 1870 at or near the Ridge road near E. R. Cobb's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that said John Saylor. . .died we think and believe from some disease of the heart or an appoplectic [apoplectic] fit.

infant September 30, 1884 at the residence of W. A. Reed, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said infant came to its death resulting from scarlett fever or whatever the disease might have been

Ned Dial December 25, 1890 at Powers, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say That Ned Dial came to his death from natural causes.

Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that Marsha Lanham Came to her death from hart failure

Dora Jackson December 26, 1893 near Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the deceased Dora Jackson came to her death in the manner and from aforesaid that is from natural causes

Jane Ashmore child April 3, 1880 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . .the said Jane Ashmore came to her death from natural causes

Thomas R. Bell December 23, 1876 at the late residence of Thos R. Bell, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say after hearing the testimony for the state, that Tho's R. Bell's death was caused by disease of the heart

Levy negro man slave January 9, 1849 at Austin Wilson's, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Levy Came to his death by natural Cause and that was an Act of God

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant March 27, 1895 at Daniel McGarland's place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: The said infant child was the Child of Caroline Laurean but from being buried such a length of time was in such a state of decomposition, it was impossible from autopsy to find out cause of death, Therefore we find that it came to its death from some cause unknown to it there

Mary Knopp Fairfield County, SC

do state that said Mrs Mary Knopp came to her death by "heart failure."

Victor male slave April 24, 1859 at A. L. Dearing Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Victor came to his death by a providential occurance

E. D. Holly September 21, 1907 at Holley's Mill, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: She died from natural causes

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

Cintha Boon April 10, 1926 [Stein?] Pin Township, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Died of Heart failure

Daniel Brown October 8, 1881 at the plantation of Willis Watkins, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said Daniel Brown died. . . in the cotton field on the plantation of Willis Watkins by no act of violence or foul means but by heart disease.

Nelly Grazier July 8, 1888 at Enora, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that thy are the believe that the said Nellie Grazier came to her death by the hand of providence

Nehemiah Franks July 27, 1859 at Nehemiah Franks, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he the aforesaid Nehemiah Franks in manner and form aforesaid do say that he came to his death in his own house by the act of God.

infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Infant Came to its death from a cause unknown

J. H. Collins June 30, 1896 at G.W. Morris' place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the Deceased came to his death from natural causes, from the effects of Rheumatism.

John Nelson June 5, 1826 in the house of John Nelson Sen'r on Grannie's Quarter, Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths that he came to his death by the visitation of God

Delia Hell at J.K. Alston's plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say the deceased came to her death by softening of the brain; in manner and form aforesaid. She came to her death by the hand of God.

infant child infant child August 9, 1837 on the plantation of Mr. Austin Wilson, Union County, SC

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

Frances Pagett April 15, 1853 at William Pagett's, Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to her death by the act of God?

Arthur R. Hill January 1, 1883 at Mrs F[?] Browns place, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Arthur R Hill came to his death on the 1st day of January AD 1883 by some sickness...

Milledge Stuard October 8, 1881 at Mount [??] Yard, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oths do say the said Milledge Stuard Came to his death from some unknown Cause to us but Suppose from heart Disease

Kissey Blakeny October 22, 1884 at Kessey Blakenys, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the Deceased came to her death by a natural causs of heart disease

Martha M. Kerr March 10, 1881 at the house of Edward L. Kerr, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Martha M. Kerr came to her death by the act of God: hemorage of the lungs

Unknown at Davis Lyles'[?] place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the aforesaid Infant came to his death from Premature birth[.]

infant child. Male. infant child. Male. January 25, 1874 at Solomon Scott's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that said child was born on the twenty second inst and was dead

Emaline slave April 4, 1862 at R. G. H. Faws[?], Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . .that the deseast came to her death by the visitation of god or some unknown cause

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

Brown Lee at the McCerkin[?] grave yard, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to his death on the 6 day of Nov A D 1889 at his residence from natural causes

Tephius[?] Cornwall January 14, 1845 on one of the Public Streets of the Town of Hamburg, Edgefield County, SC

Upon their oaths do say, that the decd Tephius[?] Cornwell came to his death as they believe by the visitation of God

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

Henry Clarkson May 10, 1871 at Antiark Church, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say ... that the aforesaid Henry Clarkson ... came to his death disease of the heart

W. Thomas Welsh January 16, 1890 at Sebram Welsh, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do Say that the Said W. T. Welsh came to his death from some unknown Cause to the Jury

infant November 27, 1870 at William Stuart's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that. . .said child was dead born

Alex Black October 27, 1884 at Philadelphia in Spartanburg County, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death from disease of the brain in his field some two hundred yards from his house

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.

Bettie Willis March 24, 1892 at the Croker place the home of Miss Bettie Willis, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the Said Miss Bettie Willis Came to her death. . .by the Act of God. From Heart Failure or disease accompied with Dropsie

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