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
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

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

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

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

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'

Albert Watson June 15, 1892 at the plantation of W.B. Maffett, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Albert Watson came to his death from Natural Causes

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

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

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

came to his death by the act of Providence

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

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

John Gregory September 3, 1862 at John Gregory, Union County, SC

do say that the Decd Came to his death by the hand of God

Kent slave January 12, 1845 at the house of David Maberry, Spartanburg County, SC

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

Joseph Prince April 13, 1842 Union County, SC

came to his death by the visitation of God

Clara slave February 18, 1861 at Thos Bayds[?], Union County, SC

uppon there oaths do say … the decd came to her death by hand of the Almity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Briant King May 16, 1861 at the resident of W. D. H. McHaughton, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that on the 16th day of May 1861 in the field at home while at work [Briant] came to his death by none other than a visition of providence

Bob negro September 23, 1864 in the District, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say and dclare that the said Bob came to his death by the Visitation of God

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

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

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.

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

Priscilla Clark March 28, 1837 at the house of Jesse Clark, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Priscilla Clark … died by the visitation 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

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

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

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

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

Mary Champion November 10, 1870 at Camden, Camden, S.C., Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that [the] deceased came to her death by a visitation or the 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

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

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

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

Dick slave March 19, 1837 at the house of Edward Gregory, Union County, SC

do say that the said Dick … died by the visitation of God in a natural way

John Brownlee June 7, 1863 at Williamston, Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to his death, not from any violence but by the visitation of God to the best of our knowledge and belief.

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

Elizabeth Walker March 1, 1879 at P. A. McDavid, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Elizatbeth Walker came to her death by misfortune or accident

Dinah slave January 25, 1859 at the late residence of John Gregory deseast, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she died of [?] of the heart which has been protracted[?] for the last ten or twelve months

Olin Smith Anderson County, SC

I found he died from natural causes

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

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

Reubin Weaver at Elijah Boatwrights Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say, that Reubin Weaver aforesaid came to his death from heart failure

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

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

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

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