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 551 - 573 of 573
Name Deceased Description Datesort ascending Inquest Location Death Method Inquest Finding
Infant of Susie Redfern Infant of Susie Redfern at Mt. Croghan, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Madison Materson at Blythewood, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oath do say that the above decest came to its Death by natural causes on June 20-1895[.]

Unknown at the Gailiard Plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said infants death was from premature birth, from best evidence we can get, it not being over six months old the 17 of Feb 1886[.]

Pinkie Lemmon at J.H. Aiken's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, the said Pinkie Lemmon came to her death from Heart Disease[.]

Mary Cook at Henry Cook's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say the deceased came to her death at her home from heart disease[.]

Elsie Starks at N.C. Roberts' place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from some cause uknown to the Jury between two & seven Oclock the 21st Jan 1883[.]

Mary Knopp Fairfield County, SC

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

Mary Whitman at R.E. Martin's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, the said Mary Whitman came to her death from Heart Disease on the 13 day of June A.D. 1887

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Nettie Frazier at the plantation of Mrs. Nancy Youngue, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to its death from the effects of Whooping cough[.]

Anarky Thompson at Joe Freshleys, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from diseas of the heart called osfication of the valve of the heart, on the plantation of Joe Freshley, in Fairfield County SoC. The 1st of May 1884.

Sindy Simmons at Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to her death at her Brother, Ben Davis in Fairfield County SC the 12 day of Sept 1898 from natural causes[.]

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

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

Patsy Johnston at Bell plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oath do say that the aforesaid Patsy Johnston came to her death from scrofula.

Dolly Glenn at the Doly place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceasd came to her death at the home of Joe Jackson the 21st of Aug 1892 from some Natural Causes[.]

Olin Smith Anderson County, SC

I found he died from natural causes

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.

Manuel Coleman at Manuel Coleman's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say came to his death by congestion of the Stomach from drinking water.

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

Mag Potee at N.D. Roberts place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceasd came to her death at her home the night of the 2d of Sept 1892 from natural causes[.]

Dorisa Byrd at Martin Byrd's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Dorisa Byrd came to her death from congestion of the lungs at on the plantation of Oliver Sloan[.]

Jane Owens at Ms. Helen Smith's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say She died from a paroxism of asthma

George Jefferis near Crosbyville, Fairfield County, SC

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

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