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 301 - 350 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
George Center October 28, 1880 at George W. Centers, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said George W Center came to his death by heart disease

Emmar McDonald daughter November 27, 1881 at William McDonald's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the sd Emma [?] McDonald came to her death by asphyxia of the brain, or some unknown cause

Caswell Waldrop April 18, 1882 at the residence of Caswell Waldrop, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . . the said Caswell Waldrop . . . came to his death from the effect of an epileptic fit.

Patrick Burns[?] November 4, 1858 at the residence of Richard Campbell, Edgefield County, SC

said Burns came to his death by visitation of God . . . that the immediate cause leading to sudden death, was the bursting of a blood vessel in or about the heart or lungs

John Nelson June 5, 1826 in the house of John Nelson Sen'r on Grannie's Quarter, Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths that he came to his death by the visitation of God

Victor male slave April 24, 1859 at A. L. Dearing Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Victor came to his death by a providential occurance

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

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

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

John Williams February 9, 1879 at the house of Newton Perry [?] on the plantation of Thomas Cox, Anderson County, SC

do say, that deceased [John Williams] came to his death by dropsical affiction.

Auguiste Campbell October 30, 1868 at Auguiste Campbell's, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the Decd. Auguiste Campbell came to his death, from the continual use of peach brandy, he the decd. Being advanced in years to old age & feeble constitution & that the use of sd. Intoxicating brandy, drank from Monday morning the 26th Inst. to the time of his death was the cause of sd. death.

S. D. Lawton July 19, 1911 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

S. D. Lawton suddenly, without any bad natural causes, as far as deponent knows or believes, dropped dead

Frances Pagett April 15, 1853 at William Pagett's, Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to her death by the act of God?

Prince Crawford November 29, 1916 at Pageland, Chesterfield County, SC

Prince Crawford came to his death from 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

Harry slave December 17, 1855 at Jesse Gray's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that he came to it by manner and means to them unknown, but believe it was by the visitation of God

Gilbert Crawford July 22, 1921 at Pageland, Chesterfield County, SC

Gilbert Crawford came to his death form natural causes

Bird Yarbor December 20, 1903 at McBee, SC, Chesterfield County, SC

the deceased -- Bird Yarbor -- came to his death by heart failure or some natural cause.

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

George Hatcher freedman June 19, 1867 at B. W. Hatchers Mill on Shaws creek, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oath do say that George came to his death by some disease unknown to the Jurors

Unknown at Davis Lyles'[?] place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the aforesaid Infant came to his death from Premature birth[.]

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

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

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

L. M. Stroud August 18, 1909 at Tom Strouds, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say: that the said Mrs. P. M. Stroud came to her death from natural causes

Authur Lee Johnson October 1, 1904 at the place of Mary Cassidy, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Lizzie Greeg July 4, 1884 at Capt Taliar[?] Hearin[?], Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths aforesaid do say that the aforesaid Lizzie Greeg Came to her death from natural Causes

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

Brown Lee at the McCerkin[?] grave yard, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to his death on the 6 day of Nov A D 1889 at his residence from natural causes

John B. Garrison February 21, 1894 in Clinton, Laurens Co, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said John Garrison died from mitral Insufficiency.

Jack Dendy October 25, 1889 at Jack Dendys, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Jack Dendy came to his death "From Providential Causes."

Mary Cook at Henry Cook's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say the deceased came to her death at her home from heart disease[.]

W. W. Rodgers January 7, 1893 at Clinton, Laurens County, SC

upon their oathes do say that the Aforesaid W W Rodgers came to his death on this 7th day of Jan, about 8, 10 Oclock AM, at Clinton, S.C. from Hemorhage and Blood Clot on the Brain.

Maria Seawright grandma January 11, 1882 at the farm of A. W. McDavids, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Maria Seawright came to her death from a natural cause by an act of Providence

Lawrence Lenhardt July 5, 1882 at Greenville CH, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . . came to his death from strangulation of the hernia[?] of long duration

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

Humphrey Wilson August 26, 1882 at the residence of Humphrey Wilsons, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . . he died from a visitation of the Almighty God

Harriet negro woman July 20, 1859 at the residence of JB Rease, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said negro woman. . .died by the visitation of God

colored colored June 12, 1856 at a house on Rutledge Street in the town of Camden and occupied by one John Strickling, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that from the evidence before the jury the child came to its death naturally having had severe convulstions at several times during the two previous days

George Norris November 23, 1876 at Anderson Courthouse, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said George Norris by act of God died (Consumption)

D. L. Campbell October 21, 1894 at the residence of D. L. Campbell, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that D L Campbell deceased come to his death from hart trouble

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]

David Jeans March 5, 1870 Laurens County, SC

We the undersigned Jurors do say that we believe the said david Jeans freedman came to his death by the Visitation of God.

Elias Smith August 24, 1869 in the county of Anderson, Anderson County, SC

do say that while from the evidence before the jury there was serious grounds for suspicion that the said Elias Smith had come to his death by some in-proper means, the evidence of the dissecting physician relieves the jury of the disagreeable necessity of prosecuting the investigation further, and so the jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths do say that the aforesaid Elias Smith came to his death by apopsy of the chest and diseased liver

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.

Ned Redfern January 24, 1916 at Evans Mill, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: natural causes

Morriss unknown free man of color January 7, 1858 at Grief Tater's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say the said that Morris (a free man of color)?more than probably came to his death by dropsy of the heart

Charley Turner February 8, 1922 at J W Patsobe, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That Charley Turner came to his death from natural cause

Miss Vida Nivius April 4, 1923 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

We the Jury after viewing the Body of Miss Nivius find that the dec'd aforsaid she came to her death from natural causes

Phillis August 18, 1831 at the house of Charles P. Stone, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that, according to all the testimony adduced to them, they are inclined to believe, that on the 17th instant, the said Phillis being often last spring, complaining of Hysterical, vapours she was taken with a Hysteric Attack which caused her death

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

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