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 Wallcot at Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their Oaths that the deceased came to his death in Winnsboro SC the 7 of Jan 1889 from heart diseas.

Mary Elizabeth Rallings February 6, 1900 at Sanford Rallings', Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say That Mary Elizabeth Rallings came to her death by mischance or natural causes

Briant King May 16, 1861 at the resident of W. D. H. McHaughton, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that on the 16th day of May 1861 in the field at home while at work [Briant] came to his death by none other than a visition of providence

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

Fanny Payton colored woman, free from birth June 20, 1870 at residence of Harry Gallard[?], Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to her death in her bed in the room she usually slept and from disease of the heart

Nicholas Gibson June 26, 1884 at the residence of Nicholas Gibson, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say ... that the aforesaid Nicholas Gibson came to his death ... in the manner as testified to by the examining physician, Dr. M. Bonner

Austin King October 27, 1890 at Laurens CH., Laurens County, SC

by their oaths do say that the said Austin King came to his death "From heart disease."

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

upon their oaths do say from Heart failure

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

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.

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.

James Lee April 7, 1834 at Amos Lee's, Union County, SC

do say upon there oaths that the sd James Lee . . .on the plantation of William Hay[?] . . .Dyed By the Visitation of god in a natural way

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

Madison Materson at Blythewood, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oath do say that the above decest came to its Death by natural causes on June 20-1895[.]

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

Charlotte Johnson July 9, 1906 on the plantation of George Johnson, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

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

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

upon their oaths, do say: by natural causes

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

Daniel W. Willis September 27, 1887 at the residence of the deceased Daniel Willis, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the [said] Daniel Willis came to his death of heart disease

Borough August 21, 1853 on the high Road near Marengo, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he had no marks of violence upon him and that he died by the visitation of God & not otherwise.

Lona May Hamilton child October 18, 1893 at or near Longmires PO[?], Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that she said Lona May Hamilton came to death. . .on the plantation of J.A. Deale. . .by accidental suffication

Blair Massey Alias: Isaac Funderburk May 16, 1896 at Phillip Arrant, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say that the deceased came to his death by natural causes

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.

Elsie Starks at N.C. Roberts' place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from some cause uknown to the Jury between two & seven Oclock the 21st Jan 1883[.]

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

James Wilson March 27, 1846 at the house of Alexander Moorehead, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said James Wilson came to his death by the hands of Providence causes unknown to the jury.

Georgiana Williams Moore July 26, 1882 at TS Langston's plantation, Laurens County, SC

upon their oathes do say that the said Georgiana William Moore came to her death by a visitation of God and died of Embolism of the heart.

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

E. A. Teal September 1, 1883 near and on the north side of the Public Road leading from Chesterfield C. H. to Abrahams Creek and the middle prong of said Creek, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said E.A. Teal, came to her death from natural causes there neing no marks of violence upon her body

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

Unknown at the Gailiard Plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said infants death was from premature birth, from best evidence we can get, it not being over six months old the 17 of Feb 1886[.]

William Smith infant January 20, 1869 at Stephen C. Smith residence, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death by some means or disease to the jurors unknown

Dick slave March 19, 1837 at the house of Edward Gregory, Union County, SC

do say that the said Dick . . .died by the visitation of God in a natural way

Spencer Knott August 9, 1890 at Spencer Knotts', Chesterfield County, SC

Jurors aforesaid that said that Spencer Knotts came to his death from some natcherel case or cosses to the jury owns known

M. M. Oneall December 1, 1870 at the residence of Elias E. Roberts, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Mrs. M.M. Oneall came to her death from disease of the heart

Dinah slave January 25, 1859 at the late residence of John Gregory deseast, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she died of [?] of the heart which has been protracted[?] for the last ten or twelve months

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

Rachell Smith at the McDowell place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from dissease of the heart.

Cooper slave March 17, 1852 at the plantation of L.H. Mundy decd, Edgefield County, SC

where & when & by what means the Said Slave, Cooper came to his death By acute Gastro Duodinitis[?]

Mary Jane Rivers September 12, 1900 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

I do not deem it necessary to hold an inquest but from such evidence find that the said Mrs Jane Rivers came to her death from none other than natural causes.

Mary Champion November 10, 1870 at Camden, Camden, S.C., Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that [the] deceased came to her death by a visitation or the act of God

Amy Crawford February 2, 1890 at Neal Crawford, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thire oaths do say that he Said Aimie Crawford came to her death by some cause or causes to this jury unknown

John Saylor August 6, 1870 at or near the Ridge road near E. R. Cobb's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that said John Saylor. . .died we think and believe from some disease of the heart or an appoplectic [apoplectic] fit.

infant September 30, 1884 at the residence of W. A. Reed, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said infant came to its death resulting from scarlett fever or whatever the disease might have been

Ned Dial December 25, 1890 at Powers, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say That Ned Dial came to his death from natural causes.

Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that Marsha Lanham Came to her death from hart failure

Dora Jackson December 26, 1893 near Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the deceased Dora Jackson came to her death in the manner and from aforesaid that is from natural causes

Jane Ashmore child April 3, 1880 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . .the said Jane Ashmore came to her death from natural causes

Thomas R. Bell December 23, 1876 at the late residence of Thos R. Bell, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say after hearing the testimony for the state, that Tho's R. Bell's death was caused by disease of the heart

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