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
Namesort ascending Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Method Inquest Finding
Willy Hall February 19, 1845 at Black River in the stage road, Kershaw County, SC

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

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

William Smith infant January 20, 1869 at Stephen C. Smith residence, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death by some means or disease to the jurors unknown

William McLure December 7, 1844 at or near the plantation of John Gage, Union County, SC

do say that the said William McLure . . .was found lying dead near a small path leading from Union Ville to the plantation of John Gage . . .we therefore do believe that he died from some providential cause to us unknown

William L. Collins January 9, 1887 at Chesterfield County, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

William H. Lancaster September 19, 1883 at the residence of Jas. Giddes, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the aforesaid William H. Lancaster ... came to his death from disease of the heart

William Ganey February 22, 1889 at E. H. Casons, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the Said William Ganey came to his death form some natural cause or causes to the jurors unknown

William Fisher September 12, 1855 at the home of Sarah Vanderford, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . .that they are of opinion that the Said William Fisher died a natural death by [?] and by the act of God

William Cooper September 22, 1882 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .Wm T. Cooper came to his death from heart disease

William Blanton January 14, 1884 at the house of Langdon Blanton, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that William Blanton came to his death by heart disease

William Autry March 16, 1896 at E. W. Gulledge's place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said Wm Autry came to his death from natural causes

William Anderson April 14, 1864 at the plantation of T.[?] S Boles, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that said William Anderson came to his death by some sevear attack of disease. . .by Mischance or Visitation of God

William A. Jordan December 12, 1891 at William M. Jordan's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that Said Infant came to his death from Some causes or causes to the Jury unknown

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

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

white man white man October 21, 1849 in the woods near Holsonbakers[?] old fields, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say the aforesaid Stranger came to his death from the act of God

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

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

upon their oaths, do say: by natural causes

Wade Chappell at William Steele's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased Wade, Chappell, came to his death from an affection of the heart[.]

Wade Barronton October 8, 1860 at Wade Barrontons Residence, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Wade Barronton came to his death. . .by the Visitation of God

W. W. Rodgers January 7, 1893 at Clinton, Laurens County, SC

upon their oathes do say that the Aforesaid W W Rodgers came to his death on this 7th day of Jan, about 8, 10 Oclock AM, at Clinton, S.C. from Hemorhage and Blood Clot on the Brain.

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

W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oath do Say he come to his Death by Providential occurance or heart failure

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.

W. G. Rivers June 15, 1888 at F. W. Rivers, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said W J Rivers came to his death by som natural caus or causes to the jury unknown

W. F. DeBruhl April 20, 1859 at the late residence of W.F. DeBruhl, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Wm. F. Debruhl came to his death by none other than a visition from God

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

Venus female slave November 9, 1848 at John Harrises, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .the disceased was a person advanced in life, and had at time been complaining of a Smothering Sensation at night and . . .Came to her death by a visitation of god

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

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

unnamed infant unnamed infant September 8, 1855 at the Plantation of the late William Montgomery, Horry County, SC

upon their Oaths do say That upon a Post-morten examination, that from the decomposed state of the Child, having been dead 8 days and buried 7 days, that we can not see any sign of violence or Poesen,--but from the emty state of the Childs Stomach and Bowels, believe that the death of the Child was caused by withholding the necessary nurishment, from its Mothers breast, or otherwise

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

[No official declaration]

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

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

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant June 4, 1868 at FW Gaylords, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said child was still born. . .

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant February 23, 1883 at Chesterfield C. H., Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say That the said Infant Child came to his death from som cause or causes unknown to the Jurors and that there was no foul play

Unknown infant Unknown infant July 14, 1879 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that , according to the evidence before them, the said infants came to this death in the house of Alie Williams on Church street in Town of Cheraw one on Saturday night the other on Sunday - both form natural causes

Unknown infant Unknown infant July 14, 1879 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that , according to the evidence before them, the said infants came to this death in the house of Alie Williams on Church street in Town of Cheraw one on Saturday night the other on Sunday - both form natural causes

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant April 26, 1888 at Margret Bouer, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Infant Child came to her death by being accidently Smothered and that it dide on the 26th day of A D 1888

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[.]

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

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

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

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

Tower December 27, 1809 at Benjamin Strange's, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oaths that they believe his death came by the act of god

Tom negro boy February 5, 1853 at the late residence of Col Harling Quarles[?] deceased, Edgefield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say the said negro boy . . .died in some natural way unknown

Thos P. Milnor February 5, 1849 at Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Thos. P. Milnor came to his death by a visitation of Providence

Thomas Wynn October 31, 1868 at William Bousar's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the dec'd died a natural death in his bed

Thomas Tillman July 22, 1894 at Thomas Tillman's place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said Tillman came to his death form natural causes

Thomas Stevenson at the Jesse Wayride place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased Thos. Stevenson, came to his death from some disease supposed to be disease of the Heart[.]

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

Thomas Prince July 31, 1848 at the Joal of Said District, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Thomas Prince came to his death by the act of God

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