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 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
infant male child infant male child January 3, 1894 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

S. D. Lawton July 19, 1911 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

S. D. Lawton suddenly, without any bad natural causes, as far as deponent knows or believes, dropped dead

Wiley W. Gandy November 18, 1912 at Steer Pen, Chesterfield County, SC

the Said W W Gandy came to his death we find that the deceast W W Gandy came to his death by Natural causes

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

Amy Crawford February 2, 1890 at Neal Crawford, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thire oaths do say that he Said Aimie Crawford came to her death by some cause or causes to this jury unknown

Nehemiah Franks July 27, 1859 at Nehemiah Franks, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he the aforesaid Nehemiah Franks in manner and form aforesaid do say that he came to his death in his own house by the act of God.

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

Emma Duval September 9, 1878 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

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

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

Simon West March 25, 1857 near the house of dec'd, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that it is by the visitation of God

Alexander T. Johnson December 2, 1895 at the residence of M.J. Johnson, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that Alexander T Johnson deceast came to his death from or with Bodily Deyses

Emmar McDonald daughter November 27, 1881 at William McDonald's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the sd Emma [?] McDonald came to her death by asphyxia of the brain, or some unknown cause

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[.]

Edward William Davis September 29, 1870 at Ridgeway, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Edward William Davis. "came to his death by a Pulmonary Congestion with Hemorrhage caused from heart disease

Lewis Dial October 20, 1870 at Laurens C.H., Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say on examining and viewing the body of Lewis Dial, this day found dead in the garden of J.M. Boyd, and from competent medical examination, we find that the said deceased came to his death by the visitation of God.

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.

Caswell Waldrop April 18, 1882 at the residence of Caswell Waldrop, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . . the said Caswell Waldrop . . . came to his death from the effect of an epileptic fit.

Mag Potee at N.D. Roberts place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceasd came to her death at her home the night of the 2d of Sept 1892 from natural causes[.]

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

Micjah Ward February 9, 1849 at the house of M. Ward, Kershaw County, SC

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

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

do say . . . by a visitation 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

Aneliza Perdue January 31, 1913 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Aneliza Perdue did come to her death by Natural causes

William Cooper September 22, 1882 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .Wm T. Cooper came to his death from heart disease

Lila Gambrell October 21, 1875 at the house of Ran Duckworth, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said Lila Gambrell came to her death by mischance produced by personal epolepsy [sic].

Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, they believe the said slave Rhoda came to her death by some invisible and unknown cause or causes; perhaps a disease of the heart

Loucinda Alexander December 7, 1883 at the house of Camel Alexander, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death by the acts of Providence unknown to us

Jane Laniere August 13, 1880 at the residence of G. B. Whiton, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said Jane Lanier died in the woods near the public road leading from Pendleton to Williamston at the 4 mile post . . .by no foul means but by a disease of the heart

Infant of Peter and Mary Hancock Infant of Peter and Mary Hancock March 1, 1898 at B.C. Moons, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: from natural causes

Robert Jordan December 3, 1900 at Mount Croghan, Chesterfield County, SC

from the verdict of witness I do note deem it necsary to hold an inquest but from such witnesses find that the Sed Robrt Jordan came to his ath from natural causes Decmbr 3 1900

Emaline slave April 4, 1862 at R. G. H. Faws[?], Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . .that the deseast came to her death by the visitation of god or some unknown cause

William Blanton January 14, 1884 at the house of Langdon Blanton, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that William Blanton came to his death by heart disease

Infant of Andrew and Helen Barrett Infant of Andrew and Helen Barrett February 19, 1897 at Andrew Barretts coloud in Chesterfield Co., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, the deceased came to its death by means unknown to the Jury.

B. C. Bryan March 16, 1884 at B C Bryan Residence, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say. . .that the said B C Bryan Come to his death. . .from disease of the Heart

Laura Doneyhue October 17, 1901 at the Plantation of Geo Gregory, M.D., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: nothin other than natural causes

Hannah negro woman April 15, 1860 at Smith Cooks, Union County, SC
Alexander Moore May 22, 1889 at Wellford, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased Alexander Moore came to his death from the evidence given and our belief [is] that he died of apoplexy

Rose Watts December 8, 1891 at Mountville, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Rose Watts came to her death by misfortune or the act of God.

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

Barbra Franklin June 6, 1898 near Swift Creek Colored Baptist Church, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said barbra Franklin of the said county and said state on the Evening of the fifth day of June 1898 Did come to her death from natural causes

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

twin infants September 15, 1889 at Rosa Foster's, Spartanburg County, SC

do say that the twin children were stillborn & that no violence has been practiced

Arthur R. Hill January 1, 1883 at Mrs F[?] Browns place, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Arthur R Hill came to his death on the 1st day of January AD 1883 by some sickness...

Mary Whitman at R.E. Martin's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, the said Mary Whitman came to her death from Heart Disease on the 13 day of June A.D. 1887

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

Henry Williams October 13, 1889 at the Plantation of C.C. Garlington, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Henry Williams came to his death by "Natural Causes."

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

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

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

Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say: That the child Came to its death from causes unknown

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