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.’

NEXT: Meet the Coroners

 

Natural Causes Inquests

Displaying 551 - 573 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
Abner Nelson December 31, 1849 at the House of abner nelson, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . . the said Abner Nelson died a natural death as we believe from old age an of god

Joseph Smith freeman July 25, 1866 at Benjamin Vaughn's, Greenville County, SC

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

Alice Miller November 16, 1893 in Alice Miller's house, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death from Heart Disease and that no violence of any kind was used by any person.

Lizza colered woman October 7, 1866 at the house of Thomas S. Miller, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the deceased died from a desease of the Heart

Isaac F. Swinney March 12, 1875 at Chesterfield C. H., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: the under verdict that the deceased Isaac F Swinney came to his death from some natural cause

J. H. Vandike May 20, 1877 at Crawfordville, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they are satisfied that the aforesaid Col. J.H. Vandike came to his death from apoplexy while riding along the road

Betty Gene Mangum December 19, 1934 at Pageland, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Aaron old negro man slave February 23, 1858 in J[?] M Gadbury's[?] plantation, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say. . . that the said negro came to his death in a manner unknown

Sealy Henry July 1, 1873 Laurens County, SC

we the under named jurors do find in accordance with the opinion of Dr. S. S. Knight. By disease most probably epilepsy caused her death.

Mid[?] Griffin February 2, 1895 at the Govelace[?] Place, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the Aforesaid Mid Griffin came to his death by Heart failure

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.

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[.]

Barbra Franklin June 6, 1898 near Swift Creek Colored Baptist Church, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said barbra Franklin of the said county and said state on the Evening of the fifth day of June 1898 Did come to her death from natural causes

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

Joseph Moore Jr. April 19, 1846 at the house of Dr John D. Nicholson, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Joseph Moore Jr came to his death by the rupture of a blood vessel of the lungs

Chasey Futrul May 4, 1888 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Chasey Futrul came to her death by Som natural caus or causs to the jury unknown and she dide on the 4 day of May 1888

Henry Williams October 13, 1889 at the Plantation of C.C. Garlington, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Henry Williams came to his death by "Natural Causes."

Mary Gillam January 1, 1891 at Mrs Francis Wrights Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the said Mary Gillam came to her death from Rhumatism from the Heart

William H. Lancaster September 19, 1883 at the residence of Jas. Giddes, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the aforesaid William H. Lancaster ... came to his death from disease of the heart

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant April 26, 1888 at Margret Bouer, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Infant Child came to her death by being accidently Smothered and that it dide on the 26th day of A D 1888

Allen Melton January 6, 1893 at the residence of Mr. James Cottege, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do says that it is their belief that Allen Melton came to his death from natural causes - in all probability - form failure of the heart to perform its proper functions

Madison Harper September 23, 1867 at the residence of R.E. Ellison, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Madison Harper came to his death from disease by the visitation of God

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

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