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
Mary Knopp Fairfield County, SC

do state that said Mrs Mary Knopp came to her death by "heart failure."

Lawrence Lenhardt July 5, 1882 at Greenville CH, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . . came to his death from strangulation of the hernia[?] of long duration

Martha McFarlan September 20, 1890 at Robert Mcfarlan, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thire oaths do say that the Said Martha McFarling came to her death from natural causes to the Jury unknown

Manuel Coleman at Manuel Coleman's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say came to his death by congestion of the Stomach from drinking water.

John Bryce March 7, 1815 in the town of Camden, Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said John Bryce came to his death in the Town of Camden aforesaid, on the night of the sixth Instant of a 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

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

do say . . . by a visitation of God

W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oath do Say he come to his Death by Providential occurance or heart failure

Silvy Holmes at Ben Glenn's place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that Silvy Homes came to her death at her daughters Residence at the night of 28th of April AD 1887 from Providential Visitation[.]

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

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.

Jackson Cartlidge October 21, 1874 at or near the Brewers gold mine, near the waters of Big Lynches Creek, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say, That it appears that the deceased Jackson Cartlidge came to his death by mischance or accident, or visitation of God.

Robert Inglish April 25, 1891 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the Said Robert Inglish came to his death form hart disease

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

Mary May April 14, 1854 at J. W. May's, Anderson County, SC

believe came to her death by the hand of Providence.

Adeline Terry February 6, 1883 at Henry Grant's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do Say That the said Adline Terry came to her death from som caus or causes unknown to the jurors

James Knight September 9, 1905 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

I have examined the body of James Knight Decease and I find . . . [the] cause to his Death from natural causes.

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Sallie Perdew January 5, 1902 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

I have this day helt a prliminary ex amination over the dad body of Sallie Prdew and from witnesses find that She Came to her dath nothing other than heart faleior or Change of life this the 4 and 5 days of January 1902

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

Charley Gainey November 18, 1903 at T.C. Williams', Chesterfield County, SC

the said Charley Gainey diseased came to his death from heart failure

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

Charles Jones February 11, 1879 at R.J. Gladney's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the aforesaid Charles Jones came to his death by disease unknown to the Jury[.]

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

John Brown January 28, 1902 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

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

Phillis August 18, 1831 at the house of Charles P. Stone, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that, according to all the testimony adduced to them, they are inclined to believe, that on the 17th instant, the said Phillis being often last spring, complaining of Hysterical, vapours she was taken with a Hysteric Attack which caused her death

J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H., Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased J D Wells came to his death from Heart disease

Waterman Fleming August 3, 1925 at Jule Fleming's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: by 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

James Blackie August 17, 1836 in the house of Ezekiel Hoy, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that they believe James Blackie died on the 16th of August & and that his death was caused by a 'severe acute disease aggravated & hurried to a fatal termination by previous organic affection of all the viscera of the systems

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

Polly Evins August 18, 1886 at Joe Waters, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from natural causes

Josephine Smith October 12, 1890 on the plantation of M.B. Pool, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Josephine Smith from some natural cause unknown to the jury.

John S. Collins May 29, 1870 at Mr. John S. Collin's residence, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the sd. J.S. Collins came to his death by the hand of God

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

Hezehiah Gulledge January 14, 1889 at Clifton, Spartanburg County, SC
Charley Young June 17, 1893 on the plantation of Henry Young, Laurens County, SC

upon their oathes do say that the said Charley Young came to his death from (Heart Failure).

Isaac Greer December 29, 1879 at Vernonville, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death by cause or causes unknown to them but in their opinion it was an act 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."

Watson Jackson June 5, 1880 at Jackson Grove Church, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that at his mother's house of the plantation of Mr. A. Smith ... Watson Jackson came to his death by Malarial Fever

Peter Moore July 3, 1880 at the residence of Mrs. Mary Dobson near Cedar Hill, Spartanburg County, SC

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

Daniel September 17, 1816 at Reuben Meadows, Laurens County, SC

do Say upon their oaths, that he came to his death by the visitation of God then and there to wit Reuben Meadows field aforesaid he died aforesaid and not otherwise. . .

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

Jacob Belue July 31, 1882 at Jacob Belues, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Jacob Belue came to his death from congestion of the lungs

Jane Owens at Ms. Helen Smith's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say She died from a paroxism of asthma

James Hall September 25, 1818 in town of Camden, Kershaw County, SC

do say upon a view of the body of the deceased . . . that he came to his death by the visitation of God.

Richard Stevens February 21, 1898 at Johnston S.C., Edgefield County, SC

upon their Oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Dick Stevens died. . .from visitation of God

Pinkie Lemmon at J.H. Aiken's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, the said Pinkie Lemmon came to her death from Heart Disease[.]

Elizabeth Cook May 27, 1881 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . . the said Elizabeth came to her death from heart disease

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