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 301
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
Nathan Hawkins August 16, 1832 at House of Nathan Hawkins, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the Sd Nathan Hawkins … died by the visitation of God in a natural way

James Cook June 3, 1845 in the old field near the still house of James Cook, Spartanburg County, SC

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

Edward slave, boy October 22, 1858 at the residence of Wm Miller, Edgefield County, SC

the said Boy Came to his death by the act of Providence

infant, child infant, child November 29, 1894 at the plantation of J. P. Roton, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that … the said Infant aforesaid … came to its death from natural causes

Elijah M. Cooper August 25, 1877 at the residence of Elijah M. Cooper, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said E.M. Cooper came to his death … while engaged at work on his fieds near his residence from some cause which the jury believes to have been disease of the heart

Amanda Glover August 30, 1892 at Mr Pofse[?] Lotts Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say That Amanda Glover came to her death from hart Failure

John Uriah Bedenbaugh September 17, 1835 on the plantation of Thomas Satten, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said John Uriah Bedenbaugh … died by the visitation of God in a natural way

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

Edmund Chambers November 18, 1819 at the house of Edmund Chambers, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the aforesaid Edmund Chambers … died by the visitation of God

Eber B. Stevens March 5, 1873 at Pendleton, Anderson County, SC

do say…by a visitation of God

James Mitchell February 18, 1879 at L D Laudrums, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Jas Mitchell came to his death by means unknown

Matt negro man February 9, 1832 on the plantation of Doct. Jas Macham, Union County, SC

do say upon there Oaths that the Said negro … died with the visitation of God in a natural way

Kizziah[?] slave, servant March 11, 1860 at the residence of Mr M Lanham, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Kisziah came to her death … from the Visitation of God in a natural way

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

John G. Riddle July 3, 1860 at the residence of Mr Richard Burton, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that John G Riddle died a natural death caused by infirmitys of old age

Jim slave October 4, 1858 at Giles Sharps, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Jim came to his death for some cause unknown or the visitation of god

Chanya slave December 31, 1849 at A.G.W. Gordon's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death by infirmity and old age

Jane Wisher September 30, 1848 at the residence of Mrs. Jane Wisher, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say from the widow of Elisabeth Wisher that the deceased was an oald person and had for some years past been afflicted with what had been cauled palpitation of the heart and [?] and was complaining … came to her death by a visitation of god

Joel W. Warren November 9, 1894 at Joseph Mirren[?] House, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say and belief that he Joel W. Warren came to his death by heart failure

Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death … from heart trouble

Benjamin Bishop November 26, 1840 taken one mile and a half south of the [?] on the main road leading to Jones' ford on Enoree[?] river, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Benjamin Bishop … at a place in the woods near the main road … died by the visitation of God in a natural way

James Coleman September 16, 1873 at or near Mrs. Fantt's residence and one and 1/2 miles south east of Anderson, Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to his death by the act of God.

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 cuase to us unknown

James Johnson at James Johnson's farm, Union County, SC

he came to his death by some caus unknown to us

Jim slave June 10, 1859 at M, L, Bonham Esqr residence on the Pine House road, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Jim a slave … came to his death by the act of Providence

John Savage January 27, 1852 at John Savages, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that … John Savage Sr was Providentially taken away by the act of God

James Leppard February 13, 1893 at F. M. Leppards, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say … the deceased came to his death by Rheumation of the heart

Isaac Jones July 1, 1881 at Ridge Spring, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the deceast came to his death from Nattural Causese the visitation of Providence

Reuben Johnson March 11, 1881 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths ... do say that the said Reuben Johnson ... came to his death from natural causes

Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that Marsha Lanham Came to her death from hart failure

Tephius[?] Cornwall January 14, 1845 on one of the Public Streets of the Town of Hamburg, Edgefield County, SC

Upon their oaths do say, that the decd Tephius[?] Cornwell came to his death as they believe by the visitation of God

Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt, Edgefield County, SC

we find that the decesed Came to her death … from the [?] of age and Probealy as Stated by the Dr from Heart Failure

Dudley Roundtree August 10, 1856 at the dwelling house of the late Dudley Roundtree, Edgefield County, SC

the said Dudley Roundtree came to his death … that the said death was by the visitation of God, and so the jury sworn and [?] as aforesaid upon their oaths declare

Lou Terry November 25, 1884 Spartanburg County, SC

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

Harriet Hill May 27, 1884 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the aforesaid Harriet Hill ... came to her death the hand of God

John Saylor August 6, 1870 at or near the Ridge road near E. R. Cobb's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that said John Saylor…died we think and believe from some disease of the heart or an appoplectic [apoplectic] fit.

Harry slave December 17, 1855 at Jesse Gray's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that he came to it by manner and means to them unknown, but believe it was by the visitation of 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

Sharp infant male child June 5, 1861 at Wm Bovels[?], Union County, SC

uppon there oaths do say that … we conclud that Decsd Came to its Death by the hand of the Almighty

Milledge Stuard October 8, 1881 at Mount [??] Yard, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oths do say the said Milledge Stuard Came to his death from some unknown Cause to us but Suppose from heart Disease

Sarah Martin July 14, 1844 at residence of Mrs. Sarah Martin, Anderson County, SC

do say that the above named Sarah Martin came to her death by the hand of God.

negro child negro child November 1, 1837 at Union C.H., Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths say that the said negro child … died by the visitation of God in a natural way

Bettie Willis March 24, 1892 at the Croker place the home of Miss Bettie Willis, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the Said Miss Bettie Willis Came to her death … by the Act of God. From Heart Failure or disease accompied with Dropsie

Jack Taylor April 11, 1892 at the house of Hal[?] Miles, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Jack Taylor … came to his death by the act of God. He having died from old age 84 years and having hearty failure bleeding Hemorage of the lungs and asthma

infant infant May 5, 1893 at F. L. Foys, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say we find that deceased Infant … came to its death from natural causes

Negro child Negro child September 29, 1835 at Robt Beety[?], Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that The said child … died by the visitation of God in a natural way

Joe Elam February 16, 1882 at Nicholson premises, Edgefield County, SC

upon there Oaths do say that Joe Elam Came to his death from Natural Causes

negro child negro child September 23, 1848 at the plantation of Davis Foudalock, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that … it must have dyed by the visitation of god

Eddie Watson Infant April 25, 1892 at Bob Stevens, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the Said Eddie Watson came to his death from Natural Causes

Caroline Coleman July 25, 1893 at Brisel[?] Blacks Residence, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say … that the said Caroline Coleman aforesaid came to her death from heart failure

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