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 1 - 50 of 573
Name Deceased Description Datesort ascending Inquest Location Death Method Inquest Finding
Earnest Leland Smith Jr. December 12, 1945 at Chesterfield, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Earnest Leland Smith, Jr. received in Chesterfield County a mortal wound by causes unknown

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

[No official declaration]

Baby Roscoe June 18, 1934 at Ruby & Hartsville Cross Roads, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Still Born

David Hall October 26, 1931 at McBee, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That david Hall come to his death by natural causes

Mrs. Will Hough March 22, 1930 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Vance Melton January 18, 1930 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that he came to his death from natural causes

Mrs. Joe Landon October 11, 1929 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

according to evidence that an inquest is not necessary

Mandy Richerson February 18, 1929 on Jule Campbell's Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Mandy Richerson came to her Death from natural causes

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

Wiliam Clinton May 11, 1928 at Wiliam Clinton's place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that Wiliam Clinton came to his Death from natial causes

Theatus or Theater Williams August 21, 1926 at Mt. Croghan, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Theates Williams came to his Death from Hart Farlery

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

upon their oaths, do say: Died of Heart failure

Waterman Fleming August 3, 1925 at Jule Fleming's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: by natural causes

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant July 1, 1925 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

My opinion is that its death was from natural cause and has been dead for about four days

David S. Threatt July 15, 1924 at Dudley Chesterfield County S. C., Chesterfield County, SC

I decided that under the clear facts of the surroundings that it was unnecessary to empanel a Jury to decided how he came to his death as there was no the least suspicion or doubt that the deceased came to his death by natural causes from an affliction which usually and natural terminates fatal and suddenly.

Miss Vida Nivius April 4, 1923 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

We the Jury after viewing the Body of Miss Nivius find that the dec'd aforsaid she came to her death from natural causes

Charley Turner February 8, 1922 at J W Patsobe, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That Charley Turner came to his death from natural cause

Gilbert Crawford July 22, 1921 at Pageland, Chesterfield County, SC

Gilbert Crawford came to his death form natural causes

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

Prince Crawford came to his death from natural causes

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

upon their oaths, do say: natural causes

Aneliza Perdue January 31, 1913 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Aneliza Perdue did come to her death by Natural causes

Finley Hall November 30, 1912 at Ansleydale, Chesterfield County, SC

upon theire oaths do say that the Said Finley Hall come to his death by Natural causes

Wiley W. Gandy November 18, 1912 at Steer Pen, Chesterfield County, SC

the Said W W Gandy came to his death we find that the deceast W W Gandy came to his death by Natural causes

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

Jack Odom August 26, 1911 at B. J. Douglass Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the aforesaid Jack Odom come to his death from natural causes

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

Huston Griffith August 24, 1910 at J. N. Sowell's Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the Said Huston Griffith came to Death By natural causes

Ben Harris July 8, 1910 at McBee, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that he came to his death form natural causes

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

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

G. D. Gullege June 14, 1909 near clus Rallings, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said G. D. Gullege came to his death from natural causes

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

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

Charlotte Johnson July 9, 1906 on the plantation of George Johnson, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Nancy Johnson June 11, 1906 at Whitfield Johnson, Chesterfield County, SC

AND so the said Jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say that the aforesaid Nancy Johnson came to her death from natural causes

Infant of Diliar Harrell Infant of Diliar Harrell September 15, 1905 at Mr. Douglass's Mill, Chesterfield County, SC

so the said Jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say that the aforesaid child came to death by causes unknown to them.

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.

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.

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

[No official declaration]

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.

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.

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

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

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

Mittie Mitchell September 19, 1902 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Arlen Blakney Watson February 2, 1902 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

John Brown January 28, 1902 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

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

Laura Doneyhue October 17, 1901 at the Plantation of Geo Gregory, M.D., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: nothin other than natural causes

Caroline Timons January 10, 1901 at Mount Croghan, Chesterfield County, SC

I have this day held a preliminary examination ovr the dad body of Caroline Timons and from the evidence of witness I do not deam It necary to hold an inqest but form such witness find that the Sed Caroline Timons came to her dath from none other than natural Causes this The 10 day of January 1901

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

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.

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