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
Thomas Tillman July 22, 1894 at Thomas Tillman's place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said Tillman came to his death form natural causes

Robert Vandever May 16, 1879 at Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the deceased came to his death on or about the 12th of May AD 1879 in the town of Winnsboro S.C from disease of the heart

Samuel Mitchell April 10, 1837 on the plantation of Robert Glen, Union County, SC

do say upon thear Oaths that the Sd Samul Mitchell . . .at a Spring . . . was found dead . . .and died by the visitation of God in a natural way

Charity Bozeman June 11, 1880 at the house of Aby McAlister, Anderson County, SC

do say that Charity Bozeman came to her death by Harte Deaseas [sic]

Lucy E. Louremore January 27, 1873 in Horry County, Horry County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that She Came to her death by natural Insident

Rebeca Eidson May 29, 1861 at the Residence of William Eidson, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that it is made evident to theme that the said deceased came to here death. . .from Congestion Pneumonia

George Bracy August 19, 1871 the plantation of Wm Cassady, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the deceased, George Bracey, came to his death by a visitation of Providence at the plantation Wm Cassady, on the 18th day of August 1871

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

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

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

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

Infant Child Infant Child March 12, 1891 at Ebb Hildreth, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Infant child came to the death from natural cause or causes

Joel W. Warren November 9, 1894 at Joseph Mirren[?] House, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say and belief that he Joel W. Warren came to his death by heart failure

Leanora M. Cannon February 25, 1879 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that ... the said Leonora M. Cannon died from the rupture of a blood vessel which caused a rush of blood into the lungs and instant death ensued

T. A. Parker June 2, 1897 at the Residence of J. L. Johnson, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oath doo say that T.A. Parker deceast came to hir death we find that the deceast came to hir death from natural causes we find that the deceast came to hir death from natural causes

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[.]

Venus female slave November 9, 1848 at John Harrises, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .the disceased was a person advanced in life, and had at time been complaining of a Smothering Sensation at night and . . .Came to her death by a visitation of god

Caroline Batson freed woman November 21, 1866 at Reedy River Church, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death by exposing herself while sick with fever

Mrs. May M. White January 22, 1885 at E. P. Whites, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Mrs. Mary M. White came to her death by some natural cause or causes, on the 22nd day of January A.D. 1885

Charley Martin June 23, 1889 at Lanfords station, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Charley Martin came to his death by "Heart Failure."

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

Willy Hall February 19, 1845 at Black River in the stage road, Kershaw County, SC

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

Christen Turnage August 29, 1892 at Robert Turnage, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that Christen Turnage came to her death form some cause or causes to the Jury unknown

Thos P. Milnor February 5, 1849 at Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Thos. P. Milnor came to his death by a visitation of Providence

Hannah negro woman April 15, 1860 at Smith Cooks, Union County, SC
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

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

Nettie Frazier at the plantation of Mrs. Nancy Youngue, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to its death from the effects of Whooping cough[.]

John Brown December 20, 1844 at the house of John Brown, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that. . .the aforesaid John Brown came to his death by mischance or misfortune by the act of God, unknown to the Jurors

Arlen Blakney Watson February 2, 1902 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

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

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

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

James Robertson September 13, 1885 at Calvin Brewton's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the aforesaid James Robertson came to his death by disease of the heart

George April 21, 1858 at Dr J G Tragham's, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to his death by the act of God.

unnamed infant unnamed infant September 8, 1855 at the Plantation of the late William Montgomery, Horry County, SC

upon their Oaths do say That upon a Post-morten examination, that from the decomposed state of the Child, having been dead 8 days and buried 7 days, that we can not see any sign of violence or Poesen,--but from the emty state of the Childs Stomach and Bowels, believe that the death of the Child was caused by withholding the necessary nurishment, from its Mothers breast, or otherwise

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

Elisha Himbry October 11, 1832 at the house of William Himbry, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that he was found on the tenth day of the present month about one mile from this place lying in the woods on his farm and they do believe he came to his death by 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

Malsey A. Blakeny August 12, 1894 at the house of W. E. Courtney, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say "that she came to her death by an act of Providence"

Andrew Boney July 26, 1879 at Ridgeway, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that from the Certificate of two Physicians who reached him in his dying moment that he come to his death from Heart disease[.]

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

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.

Silvia October 10, 1857 at the House of J.s. W. Holliday, Horry County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the said Silvia a slave Came to her death by the Visitation of God

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

Edward Bownes April 30, 1874 at Cheraw, S. C., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Edward Bownes came to his death by sum caus or causes to them unknown at His Residence in Cheraw in the 24 day of April A.D. 1874

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

David Hall October 26, 1931 at McBee, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That david Hall come to his death by natural causes

Nancy Montjoy October 13, 1889 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she the said Nancy Montjoy came to her death from natural causes, probably disease of the heart

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.

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.

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