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
Dudley Roundtree August 10, 1856 at the dwelling house of the late Dudley Roundtree, Edgefield County, SC

the said Dudley Roundtree came to his death. . .that the said death was by the visitation of God, and so the jury sworn and [?] as aforesaid upon their oaths declare

Jack Odom August 26, 1911 at B. J. Douglass Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the aforesaid Jack Odom come to his death from natural causes

Matt negro man February 9, 1832 on the plantation of Doct. Jas Macham, Union County, SC

do say upon there Oaths that the Said negro . . .died with the visitation of God in a natural way

George Robinson January 12, 1892 at the plantation of E. B. Davis, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say from Heart failure

Benjamin Bishop November 26, 1840 taken one mile and a half south of the [?] on the main road leading to Jones' ford on Enoree[?] river, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Benjamin Bishop. . . at a place in the woods near the main road. . . died by the visitation of God in a natural way

Tephius[?] Cornwall January 14, 1845 on one of the Public Streets of the Town of Hamburg, Edgefield County, SC

Upon their oaths do say, that the decd Tephius[?] Cornwell came to his death as they believe by the visitation of God

John Savage January 27, 1852 at John Savages, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .John Savage Sr was Providentially taken away by the act of God

Matt Loyd February 24, 1891 at Mr. Carmal cemetary near the Old Wills, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oath do say that the said Matt Loyd died from Dropsy[?] of the heart

negro child negro child January 16, 1854 at [???], Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths . . .that it came to its death by the visitation of God

Jim slave June 10, 1859 at M, L, Bonham Esqr residence on the Pine House road, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Jim a slave. . .came to his death by the act of Providence

Mariah Pincy July 10, 1881 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that said Mariah Princey ... came to her death from heart disease

Henry Leard Bancum November 29, 1894 at W. H. Funderburk's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say That it was an act of providence from natural causes

Loverberry B. Musgrove October 9, 1866 at the residence of Ms. James, Widow, near the Court House, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Loveberry B. Musgrove, at the residence of Mrs. James, Widow, . . .did die by visitation of Almight God

Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the said Hartwell Roper fell dead in the field at his plow

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

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

R. H. Crawford January 26, 1894 at Elisha Boans, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the deceased R.H. Crawford came to his death from some natural cause or causes unknown to me

Joe Jenkins October 8, 1881 at the residence of Matilda Rud, Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to his death upon hart [sic] disease

Joshua Clark January 26, 1885 on a rode leading from B. B. Martin's to John Champions, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that said deceased came to his death by an organic disease of the Heart

Isabelle Huggins February 5, 1896 at Jm S. Haggan place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Deceased Isabelle Huggins came to her death from Heart failure

Nancey Means December 22, 1879 at D.T. Gibson's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the Said Nancey Means came to her death by natural causes unknown to the Jury.

Sally Foster April 14, 1876 at Flora[?] Manwell[?], Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Sally Foster died of Epileptic Convulsion or as is more commonly called Fitts

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

Dolly Glenn at the Doly place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceasd came to her death at the home of Joe Jackson the 21st of Aug 1892 from some Natural Causes[.]

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.

Infant of Pearl Oliver Infant of Pearl Oliver December 26, 1894 at D. A. Redfearn's Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said Infant child came to its death from some natural cause unknown to them

Charles Aiken at the Bell place, Fairfield County, SC

upo their Oaths do say that the deceased Charles Aiken, came to his death form Rupture of a blood vesel at Narthers Church[.]

William A. Jordan December 12, 1891 at William M. Jordan's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that Said Infant came to his death from Some causes or causes to the Jury unknown

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[.]

Lee Roy Almond November 18, 1893 at R. J. Almond's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the aforesaid Lee Roy Almond came to his death from natural causes

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

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

Fayet Walter January 20, 1877 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upont their oaths do say that the dec'd Fayet Walter came to his death from a disease known as congestion of the lungs caused from severe cold

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

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

Jesse Woods September 3, 1870 at Lewis Dial, Laurens County, SC

we do say he came to his Death by Dropsey the act 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

Charmes October 7, 1865 at Levison Fowlers, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the Freedman Charmes came to his death by the act of God

George Blakely August 23, 1889 at Tom Youngs, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that George Blakely came to his death "Natural Causes"

W. G. Rivers June 15, 1888 at F. W. Rivers, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said W J Rivers came to his death by som natural caus or causes to the jury unknown

Jack Dendy October 25, 1889 at Jack Dendys, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Jack Dendy came to his death "From Providential Causes."

W. Thomas Welsh January 16, 1890 at Sebram Welsh, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do Say that the Said W. T. Welsh came to his death from some unknown Cause to the Jury

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. . .

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

Dinah Woman Slave May 22, 1849 at Allen Griffith, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Dinah came to her death by miscarriage and inflamation of the womb at the plantation of Master Michael Long

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

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

Julia Banks September 4, 1891 at Mr Banks Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . .Mrs Julia Banks . . .Supposed to have died from heart decise

George Negro Slave April 19, 1830 at the house of Reps Edwards, Union County, SC

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

Victor male slave April 24, 1859 at A. L. Dearing Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Victor came to his death by a providential occurance

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

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