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 1 - 50 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
Jack Dendy October 25, 1889 at Jack Dendys, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Jack Dendy came to his death "From Providential Causes."

Authur Lee Johnson October 1, 1904 at the place of Mary Cassidy, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Infant of Mary Sellers Infant of Mary Sellers December 1, 1894 at J. H. Seller's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: the infant child came to its death from natural causes

Laura Jones February 27, 1861 at Esther E. Jones, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Laura E. Jones came to her death By the providence of God at O. H T. Jones home in Laurens District

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

Infant of Pearl Oliver Infant of Pearl Oliver December 26, 1894 at D. A. Redfearn's Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said Infant child came to its death from some natural cause unknown to them

Harry Horton October 8, 1889 at Harry Hortons, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the aforesaid Harry Horton came to his death by the act of God or natural causes

L. M. Stroud August 18, 1909 at Tom Strouds, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say: that the said Mrs. P. M. Stroud came to her death from natural causes

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.

Willis Arther Jenkins February 4, 1888 at J. C. Jenkins, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Willis Arther Jenkins came to his death by some natural cause or causes unknown to the jurors and that he dide on the 4 day of Feb 1888

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.

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

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

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

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[.]

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

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

Dudley Roundtree August 10, 1856 at the dwelling house of the late Dudley Roundtree, Edgefield County, SC

the said Dudley Roundtree came to his death. . .that the said death was by the visitation of God, and so the jury sworn and [?] as aforesaid upon their oaths declare

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,

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

Henry B. Mathers November 26, 1841 at the house of Benjamin Nettles, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say the believe it was by the visitation of God

infant infant June 6, 1876 at Orange Goodlet'ts, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . .the jury is not able to say whether the child was born alive or not.

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

B. C. Bryan March 16, 1884 at B C Bryan Residence, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say. . .that the said B C Bryan Come to his death. . .from disease of the Heart

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

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

Dilsey Seigler September 20, 1869 at Miles Mills, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the said Dilsey came to her death by an act of Providence after long affliction

Lewis Denham December 6, 1883 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that said Lewis Denham ... in the field near his house died of natural causes

Lillie C. McManus February 10, 1889 at T. M. McManus's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, by the Hand of God, and from causes unknown to the parents and to the jury

Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the said Hartwell Roper fell dead in the field at his plow

Phillis August 18, 1831 at the house of Charles P. Stone, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that, according to all the testimony adduced to them, they are inclined to believe, that on the 17th instant, the said Phillis being often last spring, complaining of Hysterical, vapours she was taken with a Hysteric Attack which caused her death

Margret Branan December 15, 1889 at or on Mrs. Alice Taylor's place, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Margret Branan died ... of heart failure or affliction of the brain

Hester Mobley June 27, 1868 at David Gladney's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . . that from the testimony the Said Hester Mobley came to her death by the desease, She was Suffering from, The disease of the Heart.

T. G. Cooper June 5, 1886 at the late residence of T. G. Cooper, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said T. G. Cooper came to his death in his own house we suppose by heart disease

Nancy Davis April 22, 1883 at plantaion of Seaborn Parks, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Nancy Davis the deceased came to her death from disease of the Heart.

Clara slave February 18, 1861 at Thos Bayds[?], Union County, SC

uppon there oaths do say. . . the decd came to her death by hand of the Almity

Joe Jenkins October 8, 1881 at the residence of Matilda Rud, Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to his death upon hart [sic] disease

Isabelle Huggins February 5, 1896 at Jm S. Haggan place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Deceased Isabelle Huggins came to her death from Heart failure

negro child negro child September 23, 1848 at the plantation of Davis Foudalock, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .it must have dyed by the visitation of god

Charity Bozeman June 11, 1880 at the house of Aby McAlister, Anderson County, SC

do say that Charity Bozeman came to her death by Harte Deaseas [sic]

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

Elizabeth Mitchel October 12, 1845 at the dwelling house of David Mitchel, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .the deceased went to bed in the house of David Mitchel . . .in good health, and was found a corps on the morning of the twelfth, and do believe that She came to her death by a visitation of god

James Coleman September 16, 1873 at or near Mrs. Fantt's residence and one and 1/2 miles south east of Anderson, Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to his death by the act of God.

George slave June 24, 1857 at W.B. family[?] plantation, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said George came to his death by the [?] of Almighty God.

Elsie Sloan November 17, 1889 on the plantation of J H Sloan, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Elsie Sloan came to her death by the act of God.

James Knight September 9, 1905 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

I have examined the body of James Knight Decease and I find . . . [the] cause to his Death from natural causes.

Charmes October 7, 1865 at Levison Fowlers, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the Freedman Charmes came to his death by the act of God

Infant of C. P. Rushing Infant of C. P. Rushing December 19, 1894 at C. P. Rushing's Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said child came to its death from some natural cause or causes

John Polk February 27, 1889 at Hannah Polks House, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thire oaths do Say Infant child came to his death from natural causes unknown to the Jurors

Monday May 9, 1833 at Mr. John Smiths, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Negro Slave Monday, died by the visitation of God as he had no marks of violence upon him such as would lead to suppose he came to his death otherwise than in a natural way.

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