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
John Polk February 27, 1889 at Hannah Polks House, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thire oaths do Say Infant child came to his death from natural causes unknown to the Jurors

Charles Young July 16, 1885 at Anderson's Mills, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Charles Young came to his death from Apoplexy near Anderson's Mills

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

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

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

Susan Oliver March 27, 1893 at W. B. Oliver's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said Susan Oliver came to her death by cause or causes unknown to us

Kissey Blakeny October 22, 1884 at Kessey Blakenys, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the Deceased came to her death by a natural causs of heart disease

Infred Padgett July 12, 1848 at the Joal of Edgefield, Edgefield County, SC

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

Henry Shaw April 14, 1899 at the place of R. W. Humphries, Kershaw County, SC
Lansford Mosley June 19, 1879 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say. . . the said Lansford Moseley came to his death from disease unknown to the Jury

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

negro child negro child September 23, 1848 at the plantation of Davis Foudalock, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .it must have dyed by the visitation of god

Mary Adams September 23, 1885 at Mary Adams, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Mary Adams came to her death by Sum natural caus or causes unknow to the jurys

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

Eva Lyons February 9, 1880 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . . the Dec'd came to her death from Laranges[?] Tracheitis or inflamation of the wind pipe.

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

Chanya slave December 31, 1849 at A.G.W. Gordon's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death by infirmity and old age

Abraham Ison July 17, 1855 at Abraham Ison's House, Union County, SC

upon there Oaths do say . . .that the Deceased came to his death by the act of God

Sam negro, slave September 18, 1846 at the residence of Mrs Nancy Delaughter, Edgefield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say. . .died by the visitation of God.

Sarah Ellen Oliver January 2, 1904 at J. W. Crawley's place, Chesterfield County, SC

from the examination and testimony believe that she came to her death from natural causes.

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.

Martha M. Kerr March 10, 1881 at the house of Edward L. Kerr, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Martha M. Kerr came to her death by the act of God: hemorage of the lungs

Amos Lee July 10, 1852 at Amos Lee's, Union County, SC

upon ther oaths do say . . .that the said Amos Lee Come to his death by the act of God

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[.]

Sebron Miller June 30, 1903 at Jefferson, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Sebron Miller came to his deth by natural causes

Matilda Hall June 28, 1880 at residence of deceased on plantation of C.S. Brice, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Matilda Hall came to her death by heart disease,-the act of Almighty God.

Strather Freeman March 2, 1876 at Flat Rock Church, Anderson County, SC

do say deceased came to his death by disease of the heart.

John Brownlee June 7, 1863 at Williamston, Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to his death, not from any violence but by the visitation of God to the best of our knowledge and belief.

Manerva Proctor September 19, 1876 at Thomas Anderson's place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say: That Manerva Proctor came to her death by disease of the heart.

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,

Peter Williford May 2, 1876 at Daniel Williford's, Anderson County, SC

do say that some time between the hours of 3 oclock on the 1st of May 1876 and 8oclock on the 2d day of may May 1876 that the deceased came to his death by the act of God

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

Anna G. Cason June 10, 1883 at Williamston, Anderson County, SC

do say that the death of said Anna Cason (after hearing the testimony) was caused by disease of the heart.

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

believe came to her death by the hand of Providence.

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.

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

Jerry July 11, 1811 at the plantation of James Glen, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oathes, that they are of opinion that the said Negro boy died a Natural Death

infant child infant child September 9, 1891 at Wards, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say that the said infant male Child came to it death by premature birth

Saul Bates January 24, 1815 at James Johnsons mill, Laurens County, SC

do say on their oaths are of the opinion that the sd. Saul Betts on the 24th of Jany. 1815 Came to his death by the Act of God at James Johnsons mill in the district afore sd.

Hillary Suber July 9, 1883 at Mrs N.B. Copelands plantation, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Hillary Suber came to his death on the plantation of Mrs NB Copeland from Heart Disease

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant February 23, 1883 at Chesterfield C. H., Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say That the said Infant Child came to his death from som cause or causes unknown to the Jurors and that there was no foul play

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

M. H. Miller April 10, 1889 at W. T. H. Miller's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon there oaths do say that from the evidence given Martha Miller died with heart disease

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

Peggy slave March 28, 1841 at Mr. Adamson's plantation, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that we find upon examination that [the] negro woman called Peggy Adamson the property of Mrs. Adamson ... came to her death by the visitation of the Divine providence

Nesbitt Rice April 21, 1886 at Poplar Springs, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Nesbitt Rice came to his death by hand [of] god

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

James Hammons March 25, 1884 at Andrew Bristers, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said James Hammons came to his death by some natural caus or causes unknown to the jurors

Betsey Wingo June 9, 1886 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the said Betsey Wingo came to her death by the rupture of an aneurism in the right subclavian artery

Thomas C. Reaves May 25, 1899 Kershaw County, SC
Catharine Rodgers child September 30, 1879 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . . the deceased came to her death from congestion of the Lungs

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