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 301 - 350 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
Jenny slave April 28, 1836 Kershaw County, SC

do on their oath say that they believe she died of an apoplectic fit, the visitation of God

Lou Terry November 25, 1884 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that [she] came to her death from natural causes

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.

Rachell Smith at the McDowell place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from dissease of the heart.

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

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

Bettie McConnell near Lyles Ford, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, "That Bettie McConnell in manner and form aforsaid, came to her death from by heart failure."

Ben Shubrick col December 24, 1869 at Negro heade Lane, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That they find that the said Ben Shubrick col came to his death by the act of Providence

J. H. Collins June 30, 1896 at G.W. Morris' place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the Deceased came to his death from natural causes, from the effects of Rheumatism.

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

[No official declaration]

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

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

Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death from rheumatism of the Heart ... by 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

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."

Thomas Harrell January 19, 1838 near the Union line south of Tygar River, Spartanburg County, SC

do say uppon [sic] there [sic] oaths that the said Thomas Harrell. . .had no marks of violence uppon [sic] him and died by the visitation of God in a natural way

Henry Rush June 22, 1875 Spartanburg County, SC

return our verdict that the deceased, Henry Rush, died from an attack of epilepsy

Catharine Rodgers child September 30, 1879 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . . the deceased came to her death from congestion of the Lungs

Lawrence Lenhardt July 5, 1882 at Greenville CH, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . . came to his death from strangulation of the hernia[?] of long duration

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

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[.]

Clarisa Epps July 20, 1868 at Laurens C.H., Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the afore said Claricy Epps came to her death by the visitation of God.

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[.]

Thomas Noble March 30, 1872 at the residence of Thos Noble, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do Say That Thomas Noble in the manner and form aforesaid came to his Death by the act of God.

Alexander P. Kennard February 16, 1847 in the District, Edgefield County, SC

do say upon their Oaths, that they do believe that he died of Cramp of the Stomach or in an Appoplectic fit

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

Lydia Parish December 6, 1835 at the house of Mrs. L. Parrish on Rutledge Street in the town of Camden, Kershaw County, SC

find no reason to suppose the deceased came to her death otherwise than by the act of God or in the course of nature from diesease the particular character of which is unknown to us

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

Charlotte slave August 6, 1837 in Camden, Kershaw County, SC

do say that she came to her death by affliction[?] of the heart

James Blackie August 17, 1836 in the house of Ezekiel Hoy, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that they believe James Blackie died on the 16th of August & and that his death was caused by a 'severe acute disease aggravated & hurried to a fatal termination by previous organic affection of all the viscera of the systems

Amanda Lester December 13, 1884 near Pelham, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say Amanda Lester came to her death from heart disease

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

[No official declaration]

Brown Lee at the McCerkin[?] grave yard, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to his death on the 6 day of Nov A D 1889 at his residence from natural causes

Henry Shaw April 14, 1899 at the place of R. W. Humphries, Kershaw County, SC
Hezehiah Gulledge January 14, 1889 at Clifton, Spartanburg County, SC
Martha Stevenson at Daniel Stevenson's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that Martha Stevenson came to her death from natural causes probly influenza[.]

Mary Hillian October 30, 1896 at R.E. River's place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: the said May Hillian came to her death from accidental Hemmorage of the lungs

Aaron old negro man slave February 23, 1858 in J[?] M Gadbury's[?] plantation, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say. . . that the said negro came to his death in a manner unknown

Ely Edwards at Ridgeway, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that we the jurors after viewing the body of Ely Edwards & hearing the testimony in the [?] Believe that his death was the result of natural causes on the night of Dec 14th 1893 about Eleven oclock[.]

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

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

[No official declaration]

infant child infant child September 9, 1891 at Wards, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say that the said infant male Child came to it death by premature birth

Simney Harrington August 7, 1868 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that there appearing no signs of violence on his body the deceased came to his death by the visitation of God.

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

Ned Dial December 25, 1890 at Powers, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say That Ned Dial came to his death from natural causes.

Silvy Nix January 1, 1891 Edgefield County, SC

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

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

Johnathon Crow August 25, 1840 over Johnathon Crow at his own residence, Spartanburg County, SC

it appeared to us and we verily believe that he the sd. Johnathon Crow's time had come and that it appeared that he never had a struggle

Fanny Sullivan at JS Martins, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that on the 17th day of November 1882 Fanny Sullivan came to her death by a disease of the Heart and appoplexy.

J. H. Vandike May 20, 1877 at Crawfordville, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they are satisfied that the aforesaid Col. J.H. Vandike came to his death from apoplexy while riding along the road

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