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
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

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

infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said infant didid from natural cause or by the hand god

Fayet Walter January 20, 1877 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upont their oaths do say that the dec'd Fayet Walter came to his death from a disease known as congestion of the lungs caused from severe cold

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

B. J. Mims January 20, 1885 at the Residence of Capt B J Mims, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to his death by the visitations of Providence from heart disease

Elizabeth Walker March 1, 1879 at P. A. McDavid, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Elizabeth Walker came to her death by misfortune or accident

Silvy Nix January 1, 1891 Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that She came to her death by natural causes

D. Searey November 17, 1882 near Martinsville, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that ... the said D. Seary died from Epileptic fit or other causes to which mortal man is heir

James Hammons March 25, 1884 at Andrew Bristers, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said James Hammons came to his death by some natural caus or causes unknown to the jurors

infant March 16, 1883 at Martha J. Adkins, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that said infant child came to his death by the hands of Providence

Marisley Malone September 23, 1890 at the residence. Mrs Fooshers, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that on the night of the 22nd day of Sept. AD 1890, at the House of Mrs. Foosher in Laurens County, that the said Marilsey Malone came to her death by the Act of God.

George Norris November 23, 1876 at Anderson Courthouse, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said George Norris by act of God died (Consumption)

Watson Jackson June 5, 1880 at Jackson Grove Church, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that at his mother's house of the plantation of Mr. A. Smith ... Watson Jackson came to his death by Malarial Fever

Austin King October 27, 1890 at Laurens CH., Laurens County, SC

by their oaths do say that the said Austin King came to his death "From heart disease."

Madison Harper September 23, 1867 at the residence of R.E. Ellison, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Madison Harper came to his death from disease by the visitation of God

Martha Morris January 9, 1881 at the residence of Warren Morris, Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to her death from disease of the lungs . . . at the residence of Warren Morris.

Harry slave July 7, 1855 at Pendleton village, Anderson County, SC

do say that we believe he came to his death by the visitation of God.

Sopha Bolz April 2, 1876 at John Wolf's Place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that she came to her death [?] have no doubt from Diesase of the heart

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.

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

Lucinda Scott September 9, 1878 at P. Hastings' Plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Lucinda Scott came to her death at the house of John Scott; on P. Hastings plantation. September 8th 1878. from hemorrhages of the Lungs.

Child of Mary Muree Child of Mary Muree October 8, 1833 at the meeting house nown by the name of Pleasant Hill, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oaths, the affore said child then and their died of the visitation of God, and not otherwise.

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

Harriet negro woman July 20, 1859 at the residence of JB Rease, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said negro woman. . .died by the visitation of God

Lizza colered woman October 7, 1866 at the house of Thomas S. Miller, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the deceased died from a desease of the Heart

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.

Peyton Bird colored September 29, 1869 at Edgefield CH, Edgefield County, SC

do say as follows: That we the Jurors find that the deceased Peyton Bird came to his death by visitation of God from rupture of a blood vessel called Aorta

Kent slave January 12, 1845 at the house of David Maberry, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said slave Kent came to his death by the visitation of God

Infant February 3, 1894 at J. B. Presson's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That it came to its death by natural causes sometime between midnight and day on Feb the 3rd 1894

George Jefferis near Crosbyville, Fairfield County, SC

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

infant November 18, 1869 at Daniel Oglesby's near Thickety Creek, Limestone[?] Township, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said child came to its death by disease

W. L. Pegues July 16, 1894 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said W L Pegues came to his death from natural causes.

Daniel W. Willis September 27, 1887 at the residence of the deceased Daniel Willis, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the [said] Daniel Willis came to his death of heart disease

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.

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

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

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

Alexander Moore May 22, 1889 at Wellford, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased Alexander Moore came to his death from the evidence given and our belief [is] that he died of apoplexy

Maria Seawright grandma January 11, 1882 at the farm of A. W. McDavids, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Maria Seawright came to her death from a natural cause by an act of Providence

Emanuel Thomas at Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to his death from natural 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

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

Ellison Blakney October 4, 1896 at Hick's Mine Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Ellison Blakney came to his death from heart trouble

Hezehiah Gulledge January 14, 1889 at Clifton, Spartanburg County, SC
infant child infant child February 28, 1877 at Greenville CH, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said infant child of Ella Mitchell came to his death caused by congestion of the liver stomach & bowels

Silvy Holmes at Ben Glenn's place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that Silvy Homes came to her death at her daughters Residence at the night of 28th of April AD 1887 from Providential Visitation[.]

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

twin infants September 15, 1889 at Rosa Foster's, Spartanburg County, SC

do say that the twin children were stillborn & that no violence has been practiced

J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H., Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased J D Wells came to his death from Heart disease

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