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
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

James Goodson September 28, 1807 Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said James Goodson . . .was found dead, that he had no such marks of violence on his body as would have occasioned his death & died by the visitation of God & not otherwise

Amilia Ruffin August 7, 1880 at S.W. Ruffs, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the aforsaid Amilia Ruffin came to her death July the 23d 1880; from natural causes to the jurors unknow,

Joseph Prince April 13, 1842 Union County, SC

came to his death by the visitation of God

Child of Mary Muree Child of Mary Muree October 8, 1833 at the meeting house nown by the name of Pleasant Hill, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oaths, the affore said child then and their died of the visitation of God, and not otherwise.

Thomas J. Fuller October 5, 1894 at T.J. Fuller's, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said T.J. Fuller came to his death "From Natural Causes."

Dilsey Seigler September 20, 1869 at Miles Mills, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the said Dilsey came to her death by an act of Providence after long affliction

Sarah Acock February 25, 1881 at D. R. Davison, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the said Sarah Acock came to her deathby some caus or causes unknown to the Jury

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

William L. Collins January 9, 1887 at Chesterfield County, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Milton Ponder January 19, 1867 at Milton Ponder's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Milton Ponder came to his death . . . by the hand of Providence

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

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

Patsy Johnston at Bell plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oath do say that the aforesaid Patsy Johnston came to her death from scrofula.

Pleas Jackson August 6, 1899 at M. E. Tomlinsons, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Ples Jackson came to his death by 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

Thomas Prince July 31, 1848 at the Joal of Said District, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Thomas Prince came to his death by the act of God

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

Hardy McKinney freedman July 28, 1867 at an old field near F. Wyne's, Anderson County, SC

do say that said decd being diseased came to his death by the visitation of God

Rachel Dullivan January 30, 1890 at Rachel Dullivan Residence, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Rachel Dullivan came to her death from natural cause (Heart disease).

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

John Boone July 31, 1893 at the residence of Jno Boone, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the deceased came to his death from heart trouble

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

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

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

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

Infant of Susie Redfern Infant of Susie Redfern at Mt. Croghan, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

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[.]

Simon C. Wood[?] December 26, 1857 at Wm Calelaziers[?], Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Simon C Nood came to his death by some unknown cause or rather by the visitation of Providence

Authur Lee Johnson October 1, 1904 at the place of Mary Cassidy, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

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

Gilbert Crawford July 22, 1921 at Pageland, Chesterfield County, SC

Gilbert Crawford came to his death form natural causes

Sally Williams July 19, 1880 n.a., Anderson County, SC

find her lungs badly affected and diseased came to her death from consumption & had consumption badly.

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

Abby February 28, 1840 at Thomas Carters, Laurens County, SC

do Say upon their oaths that the said negro woman Abby, on the 28th Inst 1840 at Thomas Carters in the District afforesaid was found dead and that She dyed by the visitation of god in a natural way & not otherwise.

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

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

Jane Archer January 13, 1813 in house of Alexander Archer on Brown[?] Creek, Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths that said Jane Archer came to her death on the night Sautrday the tenth of January Instant in a natural way in the house of Alexander Archer

Thomas Stevenson at the Jesse Wayride place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased Thos. Stevenson, came to his death from some disease supposed to be disease of the Heart[.]

Pulaskey slave, boy March 30, 1848 at the plantation of J. F> Hill, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that we believe the boy died of disease (Influenza) from the history of the Case

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.

Freeman Cook March 18, 1896 at John Cook's, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Freeman Cook came to his death from natural causes.

Ben Shubrick col December 24, 1869 at Negro heade Lane, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That they find that the said Ben Shubrick col came to his death by the act of Providence

Amanda Ellerbe July 31, 1881 at the residence of John Ellerbe, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Amanda Ellerbe came to her death by natural causes or the visitation of God

Reuben Brewton January 3, 1880 near Switzer's Bridge, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Reuben Brewton came to his death ... from disease unknown to them inflicted by the hand of God

Lillie C. McManus February 10, 1889 at T. M. McManus's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, by the Hand of God, and from causes unknown to the parents and to the jury

Tench Henson June 8, 1868 at Josepth Moor's, Greenville County, SC

upon there oaths do say that it was the act of Providence

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

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

Sam Clark near Lyles Ford, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that in their opinion Sam Clark came to his death from Heart diseas

Alex White September 26, 1899 at M. C. Rays SC, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thare oath do Say that Alx White deceast came to his death By some unknown causes

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