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 51 - 100 of 573
Name Deceased Description Datesort descending Inquest Location Death Method Inquest Finding
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.

John Bryce March 7, 1815 in the town of Camden, Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said John Bryce came to his death in the Town of Camden aforesaid, on the night of the sixth Instant of a visitation of God.

Quash May 11, 1815 at the House Genl. John. Y. Wolff, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their Oaths that the aforesaid Negro Man Quash from all appearances as exhibited to this Jury of Inquest did by the act of God - The testimony of Mr Alexander Mahoffy who saw him a few minutes before his death, "he thinks about nine oclock P.M. of the 10th Inst & Genl. John Y. Wolff a few minutes after his death, he thinks about 12 Oclock of the same day - induced the Jury to give their verdict" That the Decsd. came to his death by the Act of God.

Daniel September 17, 1816 at Reuben Meadows, Laurens County, SC

do Say upon their oaths, that he came to his death by the visitation of God then and there to wit Reuben Meadows field aforesaid he died aforesaid and not otherwise. . .

Answorth Middleton December 3, 1816 at James Boyds, Laurens County, SC

Do say that he the said Answorth Middleton came to his Ende by the hand of god.

John Jones December 16, 1817 at John Jones's, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths. . .that the said John Jones did die a natural death

Samuel Kelso December 21, 1817 at the plantation of Sam'l Kelso, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that. . .he came to his death by an act of God being subject to something like a apoplexy for some time previous to his death

Dick August 13, 1818 on the plantation of John Boyd, Laurens County, SC

the said Dick came to his death by the Act of God do Say upon their oaths here inserted.

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.

Milly Roler November 2, 1819 Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths [that] the said Milley Roler came to her Death by the act of God as far we know

Edmund Chambers November 18, 1819 at the house of Edmund Chambers, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the aforesaid Edmund Chambers. . .died by the visitation of God

Nathaniel Miller September 2, 1825 Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths aforesaid that he came to his death by an act of God

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

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

Benjamin Wood May 8, 1829 at the house of Benjamin Wood, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that he the said Benjamin Wood came to his death by visition of God

George Negro Slave April 19, 1830 at the house of Reps Edwards, Union County, SC

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

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

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

May March 20, 1832 at the plantation of Doctor William Bratton on Wateree Creek, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths, that according to the evidence adduced to them, they believe that on the 19th instant in a field where the said May was breaking Cotton Halks, he was taken with an appoplectic fit and expired in an instant

Nance infant child April 24, 1832 at the house of Benjamin Landrum, Union County, SC

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

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

Nathan Hawkins August 16, 1832 at House of Nathan Hawkins, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the Sd Nathan Hawkins . . .died by the visitation of God in a natural way

Jacob Briges September 18, 1832 at the house of Jacob Briges, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that it was the visitation of God

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

Samuel Flagg February 18, 1833 near Wilson's old field, Spartanburg County, SC

after examining the body of the sd. dec'd & finding no marks fo violence committed beleave [sic] that he was brought to his death by the visitation of God

Monday May 9, 1833 at Mr. John Smiths, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Negro Slave Monday, died by the visitation of God as he had no marks of violence upon him such as would lead to suppose he came to his death otherwise than in a natural way.

Child of Mary Muree Child of Mary Muree October 8, 1833 at the meeting house nown by the name of Pleasant Hill, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oaths, the affore said child then and their died of the visitation of God, and not otherwise.

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

negro child a slave negro child a slave January 27, 1835 on the plantation of T Hooker, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the Sd child . . .died by the visitation of god in a natural way

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

negro child negro child July 13, 1835 at the house or on the plantation of Charles Humphries, Union County, SC

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

John Uriah Bedenbaugh September 17, 1835 on the plantation of Thomas Satten, Union County, SC

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

Negro child Negro child September 29, 1835 at Robt Beety[?], Union County, SC

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

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

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

James Blackie August 17, 1836 in the house of Ezekiel Hoy, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that they believe James Blackie died on the 16th of August & and that his death was caused by a 'severe acute disease aggravated & hurried to a fatal termination by previous organic affection of all the viscera of the systems

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

Priscilla Clark March 28, 1837 at the house of Jesse Clark, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Priscilla Clark . . . died by the visitation of God

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

Charlotte slave August 6, 1837 in Camden, Kershaw County, SC

do say that she came to her death by affliction[?] of the heart

infant child infant child August 9, 1837 on the plantation of Mr. Austin Wilson, Union County, SC

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

negro child negro child November 1, 1837 at Union C.H., Union County, SC

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

John Crosley January 11, 1838 at of John W Sartor[?], Union County, SC

do say upon there othes that the said John Crosley . . .died by the visitation of god in a natural way by getting choked or strangled and not otherwise

Thomas Harrell January 19, 1838 near the Union line south of Tygar River, Spartanburg County, SC

do say uppon [sic] there [sic] oaths that the said Thomas Harrell. . .had no marks of violence uppon [sic] him and died by the visitation of God in a natural way

John McDonald April 15, 1839 at Daniel McDonalds, Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths that they believe the said John McDonald ... being a youth in the district aforesaid there & then died of the visitation of God

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'

Abby February 28, 1840 at Thomas Carters, Laurens County, SC

do Say upon their oaths that the said negro woman Abby, on the 28th Inst 1840 at Thomas Carters in the District afforesaid was found dead and that She dyed by the visitation of god in a natural way & not otherwise.

Drusilla Philips June 18, 1840 at Abram Philips, Laurens County, SC

do Say upon their oaths that; the said Drusilla Philips on the 17th day of June in the year one thousand Eight Hundred and forty one at Abram Philips her husbands own House, in the distrct afore said was found dead that she had no Marks of violence upon her and died by the visitation of God in a natural way and not otherwise.

Johnathon Crow August 25, 1840 over Johnathon Crow at his own residence, Spartanburg County, SC

it appeared to us and we verily believe that he the sd. Johnathon Crow's time had come and that it appeared that he never had a struggle

Benjamin Bishop November 26, 1840 taken one mile and a half south of the [?] on the main road leading to Jones' ford on Enoree[?] river, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Benjamin Bishop. . . at a place in the woods near the main road. . . died by the visitation of God in a natural way

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