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
Sophia Hall March 19, 1859 at or near Samuel Martin's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that no marks of violence could be seen on her body that she the said Sphia came to her death by the hand of God.

James Harmon March 4, 1841 near[?] Nichara[?] Gordon's, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they cannot find no marks of Violence upon him and he died by the visitation of god in a natural way and not otherwise

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

Humphrey Wilson August 26, 1882 at the residence of Humphrey Wilsons, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say … he died from a visitation of the Almighty 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.

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

Milly Roler November 2, 1819 Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths [that] the said Milley Roler came to her Death by the act of God as far we know

Mary Jane Johnson child September 25, 1856 at Sarah [?] house, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they believe … that it Came to its by the visitation 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

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

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.

John Jones December 16, 1817 at John Jones's, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths … that the said John Jones did die a natural death

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

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

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

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

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

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

he came to his death by some caus unknown to us

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

John Nelson June 5, 1826 in the house of John Nelson Sen'r on Grannie's Quarter, Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths that he came to his death by the visitation of God

Patrick Keenan June 18, 1869 at Union Court House, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said P. H. Keenan came to his death by the hand of Providence

John McDonald April 15, 1839 at Daniel McDonalds, Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths that they believe the said John McDonald ... being a youth in the district aforesaid there & then died of the visitation of God

James Lee April 7, 1834 at Amos Lee's, Union County, SC

do say upon there oaths that the sd James Lee … on the plantation of William Hay[?] … Dyed By the Visitation of god in a natural way

Sidney Rhinehart December 26, 1883 at Spartanburg, Spartanburg, S.C., Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that ... Sidney Rhinehart died of Cerebral Apoplexy

Nathaniel Miller September 2, 1825 Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths aforesaid that he came to his death by an act of God

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.

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

Lidda Hampton November 24, 1893 at A Derrecks, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Lidda Hampton came to her death from heart failure

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

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

slave slave May 31, 1832 Kershaw County, SC

do unanimously believed that the said negro woman deceased formerly the property of Isaac Mothershed now lying Dead came to her death by an act 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

Amos Lee July 10, 1852 at Amos Lee's, Union County, SC

upon ther oaths do say … that the said Amos Lee Come to his death by the act of God

John McDaniel May 31, 1839 at McCaskill's graveyard, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say we found upon examination of the body of John McDaniel no cause nor have heard any testimony to lead us to believe that he cam eto his death otherwise than by 'a visitiation of God'

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

James Tiller March 9, 1854 at the Mansion House in the Town of Camden, Kershaw County, SC

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

Elizabeth Mitchel October 12, 1845 at the dwelling house of David Mitchel, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that … the deceased went to bed in the house of David Mitchel … in good health, and was found a corps on the morning of the twelfth, and do believe that She came to her death by a visitation of god

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

Benjamin Wood May 8, 1829 at the house of Benjamin Wood, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that he the said Benjamin Wood came to his death by visition of God

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

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

Peter Williford May 2, 1876 at Daniel Williford's, Anderson County, SC

do say that some time between the hours of 3 oclock on the 1st of May 1876 and 8oclock on the 2d day of may May 1876 that the deceased came to his death by the act 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

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

Isaac slave March 4, 1841 at Col. Wm. J. Taylor's plantation, Kershaw County, SC

on their oaths due say that it was according to their belief and the evidence before them that Isaac came to his Death by the visitation of God

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

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

colored colored June 12, 1856 at a house on Rutledge Street in the town of Camden and occupied by one John Strickling, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that from the evidence before the jury the child came to its death naturally having had severe convulstions at several times during the two previous days

Samuel Mitchell April 10, 1837 on the plantation of Robert Glen, Union County, SC

do say upon thear Oaths that the Sd Samul Mitchell … at a Spring … was found dead … and died by the visitation of God in a natural way

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