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
Jacob Briges September 18, 1832 at the house of Jacob Briges, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that it was the visitation of God

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

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

Levy negro man slave January 9, 1849 at Austin Wilson's, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Levy Came to his death by natural Cause and that was an Act of God

Nance infant child April 24, 1832 at the house of Benjamin Landrum, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the sd infant … died by the visitation of God in a natural way

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

Clarissa Campbell freedwoman March 29, 1867 at the residence of Sarah Campbell, Anderson County, SC

that the said Clarissa Campbell a freedwoman came to her death natural by the act of God

Elizabeth Pinnel February 27, 1851 at the late residence of Elizabeth Pinnel, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Elizabeth Pinnel in maner[?] and form aforesaid came to her death by the providence of God

Levi S. Mathews July 13, 1892 at G. C. Wheerles[?] Residence, Edgefield County, SC

upon their do Say … that the aforesaid Levi S. Mathews … Came to his death from hart Failure

Kisiah Frazier December 17, 1893 at the plantation of T S Rainsforde, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Kisiah Frazier came to her death from natural causes … Rheumatic trouble of the heart

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

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

infant December 24, 1882 at the residence of Miss Mary Bridges, Spartanburg County, SC
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

Limbrick negro child a slave July 22, 1856 at Wm. R. A. Thomas's, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that limbrick here lying dead came to his death by a visitation of god

Abner Nelson December 31, 1849 at the House of abner nelson, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say … the said Abner Nelson died a natural death as we believe from old age an of god

infant child infant child August 9, 1837 on the plantation of Mr. Austin Wilson, Union County, SC

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

Infred Padgett July 12, 1848 at the Joal of Edgefield, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Decd came to his death by the act 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.

Lona May Hamilton child October 18, 1893 at or near Longmires PO[?], Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that she said Lona May Hamilton came to death … on the plantation of J.A. Deale … by accidental suffication

Dilsey Seigler September 20, 1869 at Miles Mills, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the said Dilsey came to her death by an act of Providence after long affliction

Sam negro, slave September 18, 1846 at the residence of Mrs Nancy Delaughter, Edgefield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say … died by the visitation of God.

Frank Milton child January 26, 1894 at Sanders Loricks, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oath do say: that said Frank Milton aforesaid came to his death from natural causes, that is to say from inflammation of the lungs

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

Lou Terry November 25, 1884 Spartanburg County, SC

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

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

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

Christopher Norral January 5, 1815 at the Dweling house of John Norals, Union County, SC

say on their oaths that the Said Christopher Norral Came to his Death By the act of God

negro child a slave negro child a slave January 27, 1835 on the plantation of T Hooker, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the Sd child … died by the visitation of god in a natural way

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

infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Infant Came to its death from a cause unknown

Charity Johnson March 11, 1847 at the Residence of Charity Johnson, late deceased, Edgefield County, SC

do say upon their oaths, that the said Charity Johnson … died by the visitation of God

infant male child infant male child in Edgefield County, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that … the said infant came to his death, by heart failure produced from congestion of the lungs

John Brown December 20, 1844 at the house of John Brown, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that … the aforesaid John Brown came to his death by mischance or misfortune by the act of God, unknown to the Jurors

infant January 23, 1873 at residence of M. A. Snipes, Anderson County, SC

do say that it came to its death by the act of God

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 visitation of Almighty God.

Garett Doby at William Rufus, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say That he came to his death from dropsey of the hart

Edward slave, boy October 22, 1857 at the residence of Wm Miller, Edgefield County, SC

came to his death by the act of Providence

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

Nesbitt Rice April 21, 1886 at Poplar Springs, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Nesbitt Rice came to his death by hand [of] god

Liberty slave August 1, 1843 at John Murph's, Spartanburg County, SC

do say uppon [sic] their oaths that he was found in his house lying dead on the floor and came to his death by the act of God

Lewis Denham December 6, 1883 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that said Lewis Denham ... in the field near his house died of natural causes

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.

negro child negro child July 13, 1835 at the house or on the plantation of Charles Humphries, Union County, SC

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

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

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

do say…by a visitation of God

Sarah Bressey September 14, 1857 at [?] Village, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that … she came to her death … by a natural death.

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

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

Patsey Blanton May 5, 1886 at L. Blanton's residence, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they consider the said Patsey Blanton came to her death by the providence of God

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