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 101 - 150 of 573
Name Deceased Description Datesort descending Inquest Location Death Method Inquest Finding
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

James Harmon March 4, 1841 near[?] Nichara[?] Gordon's, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they cannot find no marks of Violence upon him and he died by the visitation of god in a natural way and not otherwise

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

Henry B. Mathers November 26, 1841 at the house of Benjamin Nettles, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say the believe it was by the visitation of God

Joseph Prince April 13, 1842 Union County, SC

came to his death by the visitation of God

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

Sarah Martin July 14, 1844 at residence of Mrs. Sarah Martin, Anderson County, SC

do say that the above named Sarah Martin came to her death by the hand of God.

Roster slave July 27, 1844 at Fielden Clayton's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon thear [sic] oathes [sic] that the said Roster. . .was found dead, that she had no marks of violence upon her, and died by the visitation of God

William McLure December 7, 1844 at or near the plantation of John Gage, Union County, SC

do say that the said William McLure . . .was found lying dead near a small path leading from Union Ville to the plantation of John Gage . . .we therefore do believe that he died from some providential cause to us unknown

John Brown December 20, 1844 at the house of John Brown, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that. . .the aforesaid John Brown came to his death by mischance or misfortune by the act of God, unknown to the Jurors

Kent slave January 12, 1845 at the house of David Maberry, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said slave Kent came to his death by the visitation of God

Tephius[?] Cornwall January 14, 1845 on one of the Public Streets of the Town of Hamburg, Edgefield County, SC

Upon their oaths do say, that the decd Tephius[?] Cornwell came to his death as they believe by the visitation of God

Willy Hall February 19, 1845 at Black River in the stage road, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Willy Hall came to his death by the visitation of God

James Cook June 3, 1845 in the old field near the still house of James Cook, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said James Cook came to his death by the visitation of God

Major negro man the property of no person July 29, 1845 at the plantation of Miss M. J. Rogers, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the above named Major came to his death by the act of God,

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

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.

Robert W. Kincade December 27, 1845 at the house of Baley[?] Corley, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Robert W Kincde came to his death by a Stroke of Appoplexy in the house of Baley Corby

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.

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

Sam negro, slave September 18, 1846 at the residence of Mrs Nancy Delaughter, Edgefield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say. . .died by the visitation of God.

Bilpha Hargroove February 1, 1847 at Joseph Simmon's, Laurens County, SC

do say upon there oaths, That after a thorough examination of the body we find no marks of violence or bruises on the body, we after a full examination of the testimony we are of opinion that the Deceased came to her death by appoplectic fit or some suffocation.

Alexander P. Kennard February 16, 1847 in the District, Edgefield County, SC

do say upon their Oaths, that they do believe that he died of Cramp of the Stomach or in an Appoplectic fit

Charity Johnson March 11, 1847 at the Residence of Charity Johnson, late deceased, Edgefield County, SC

do say upon their oaths, that the said Charity Johnson. . .died by the visitation of God

Elisha Farless[?] September 15, 1847 at Robert Youngers Mill house, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the siad Elisha Farleys[?] died on the 14th[?] instant past at or in the Mill house of Robert Yongers[?] was found dead that he had no markes of violence appearing on his body and died by the visitation of God in a natural way

George W. Medlock January 1, 1848 at the house of Daniel Abby, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said George W Medlock came to his death from a disease of the heart

Hardy January 17, 1848 at the house of I.B. McCall, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oath, do say that the said negro man came to his death by a dispensation of Providence

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

Infred Padgett July 12, 1848 at the Joal of Edgefield, Edgefield County, SC

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

Thomas Prince July 31, 1848 at the Joal of Said District, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Thomas Prince came to his death by the act of God

negro child negro child September 23, 1848 at the plantation of Davis Foudalock, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .it must have dyed by the visitation of god

Jane Wisher September 30, 1848 at the residence of Mrs. Jane Wisher, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say from the widow of Elisabeth Wisher that the deceased was an oald person and had for some years past been afflicted with what had been cauled palpitation of the heart and [?] and was complaining . . .came to her death by a visitation of god

Venus female slave November 9, 1848 at John Harrises, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .the disceased was a person advanced in life, and had at time been complaining of a Smothering Sensation at night and . . .Came to her death by a visitation of god

Levy negro man slave January 9, 1849 at Austin Wilson's, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Levy Came to his death by natural Cause and that was an Act of God

Thos P. Milnor February 5, 1849 at Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Thos. P. Milnor came to his death by a visitation of Providence

Micjah Ward February 9, 1849 at the house of M. Ward, Kershaw County, SC

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

Dinah Woman Slave May 22, 1849 at Allen Griffith, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Dinah came to her death by miscarriage and inflamation of the womb at the plantation of Master Michael Long

white man white man October 21, 1849 in the woods near Holsonbakers[?] old fields, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say the aforesaid Stranger came to his death from the act of God

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

Chanya slave December 31, 1849 at A.G.W. Gordon's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death by infirmity and old age

Peter C. Oclan January 7, 1850 at C. Burch's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the sd. P.C. Oclan came to his death by the act of God

John M. Bonds December 16, 1850 at Isom R. Bond's, Anderson County, SC

do say having understood that the said John M. Bonds died very suddenly on the mornign of the 15th of this Instant while going as a boat hand on Savannah River. . . .we the jury report that we fully concur in the opinion of the said doctors as reported by them to the coroner...that is to say that John M. Bonds came to his death by a diseased action in the Larynx producing or giving rise to suffocation.

Elizabeth Pinnel February 27, 1851 at the late residence of Elizabeth Pinnel, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Elizabeth Pinnel in maner[?] and form aforesaid came to her death by the providence of God

John Savage January 27, 1852 at John Savages, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .John Savage Sr was Providentially taken away by the act of God

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[?]

Amos Lee July 10, 1852 at Amos Lee's, Union County, SC

upon ther oaths do say . . .that the said Amos Lee Come to his death by the act of God

James Johnson October 13, 1852 at James Johnson's farm, Union County, SC

he came to his death by some caus unknown to us

Tom negro boy February 5, 1853 at the late residence of Col Harling Quarles[?] deceased, Edgefield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say the said negro boy . . .died in some natural way unknown

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?

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.

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