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 201 - 250 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
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

Mrs. Joe Landon October 11, 1929 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

according to evidence that an inquest is not necessary

slave slave May 31, 1832 Kershaw County, SC

do unanimously believed that the said negro woman deceased formerly the property of Isaac Mothershed now lying Dead came to her death by an act of God

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

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

[No official declaration]

John McDaniel May 31, 1839 at McCaskill's graveyard, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say we found upon examination of the body of John McDaniel no cause nor have heard any testimony to lead us to believe that he cam eto his death otherwise than by 'a visitiation of God'

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

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

upon their oaths, do say: by natural causes

Laban Johnson May 15, 1889 at Clifton, Spartanburg County, SC

do say that the said Laban Johnson came to his death from heart troubles brought on by natural causes

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

Mary Hillian October 30, 1896 at R.E. River's place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: the said May Hillian came to her death from accidental Hemmorage of the lungs

Matt negro man February 9, 1832 on the plantation of Doct. Jas Macham, Union County, SC

do say upon there Oaths that the Said negro . . .died with the visitation of God in a natural way

Israel slave November 3, 1845 on the plantation of David Gentry, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said Israel came to his death by mischance, and not from any injury inflicted by the hand of another, but by the act of God.

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

[No official declaration]

Mary Whitman at R.E. Martin's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, the said Mary Whitman came to her death from Heart Disease on the 13 day of June A.D. 1887

Elizabeth Mitchel October 12, 1845 at the dwelling house of David Mitchel, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .the deceased went to bed in the house of David Mitchel . . .in good health, and was found a corps on the morning of the twelfth, and do believe that She came to her death by a visitation of god

Nehemiah Franks July 27, 1859 at Nehemiah Franks, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he the aforesaid Nehemiah Franks in manner and form aforesaid do say that he came to his death in his own house by the act of God.

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

Ephram Ashford at [?], Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to his death at his home from heart failure

Sallie Manigo at Mrs. E.M. Turner's place, Fairfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say. That the said Sallie Manigo came to her death from some natural cause unknown to the Jury.

Peter negro man May 5, 1835 On the plantation of Jim[?] Rochester, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Peter . . .died by the visitation of God in a natural way

Tower December 27, 1809 at Benjamin Strange's, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oaths that they believe his death came by the act of god

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

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

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.

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

Charmes October 7, 1865 at Levison Fowlers, Laurens County, SC

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

Richard Lewis January 4, 1910 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That he came to his death from natural causes

Bettie McConnell near Lyles Ford, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, "That Bettie McConnell in manner and form aforsaid, came to her death from by heart failure."

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

upon their oaths do say from Heart failure

negro child negro child October 11, 1857 at T. C. Lesters, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death by strangling or choking with phlegm

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

Eddie Watson Infant April 25, 1892 at Bob Stevens, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the Said Eddie Watson came to his death from Natural Causes

infant child infant child February 28, 1877 at Greenville CH, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said infant child of Ella Mitchell came to his death caused by congestion of the liver stomach & bowels

infant male child infant male child January 3, 1894 in Edgefield County, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that. . .the said infant came to his death, by heart failure produced from congestion of the lungs

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

Elizabeth Cook May 27, 1881 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . . the said Elizabeth came to her death from heart disease

Lydia Parish December 6, 1835 at the house of Mrs. L. Parrish on Rutledge Street in the town of Camden, Kershaw County, SC

find no reason to suppose the deceased came to her death otherwise than by the act of God or in the course of nature from diesease the particular character of which is unknown to us

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

Isaac slave March 4, 1841 at Col. Wm. J. Taylor's plantation, Kershaw County, SC

on their oaths due say that it was according to their belief and the evidence before them that Isaac came to his Death by the visitation of God

Margret Branan December 15, 1889 at or on Mrs. Alice Taylor's place, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Margret Branan died ... of heart failure or affliction of the brain

Cintha Boon April 10, 1926 [Stein?] Pin Township, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Died of Heart failure

Jenny slave April 28, 1836 Kershaw County, SC

do on their oath say that they believe she died of an apoplectic fit, the visitation of God

Alexander Moore May 22, 1889 at Wellford, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased Alexander Moore came to his death from the evidence given and our belief [is] that he died of apoplexy

Jonathan June 5, 1826 at the plantation of Wm Ader[?], Fairfield County, SC

do say upon our oaths that our [?] from the evidence Jonathan came to his death by the Visitation of God

Joshua Clark January 26, 1885 on a rode leading from B. B. Martin's to John Champions, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that said deceased came to his death by an organic disease of the Heart

Mittie Mitchell September 19, 1902 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

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

Rose Brodie June 5, 1897 on MacFarland plantation, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Rose Brodie came to her death by from natural causes

J. M. Caddell January 31, 1898 at the Residence of the late J M Caddell, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thare oaths do Say that J M Caddell deseast came to his death from heart dease and other excitement cause from a mule Running away

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