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 151 - 200 of 573
Name Deceased Description Datesort descending Inquest Location Death Method Inquest Finding
negro child negro child January 16, 1854 at [???], Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths . . .that it came to its death by the visitation of God

Mary May April 14, 1854 at J. W. May's, Anderson County, SC

believe came to her death by the hand of Providence.

James Drake December 7, 1854 at residence of James Drake, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said James Drake came to his death by the hand of God

Harry slave July 7, 1855 at Pendleton village, Anderson County, SC

do say that we believe he came to his death 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

Elizabeth McHolister August 16, 1855 at the house of Elijah McHolister, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said Elizabeth McHolister in manner and form aforesaid came to her death by the dispensation of providence.

unnamed infant unnamed infant September 8, 1855 at the Plantation of the late William Montgomery, Horry County, SC

upon their Oaths do say That upon a Post-morten examination, that from the decomposed state of the Child, having been dead 8 days and buried 7 days, that we can not see any sign of violence or Poesen,--but from the emty state of the Childs Stomach and Bowels, believe that the death of the Child was caused by withholding the necessary nurishment, from its Mothers breast, or otherwise

William Fisher September 12, 1855 at the home of Sarah Vanderford, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . .that they are of opinion that the Said William Fisher died a natural death by [?] and by the act of God

Chaney negro woman December 11, 1855 at the dwelling house of Mrs Randall in the Town of Hamburg, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that Chaney, the woman now lying dead before them came to her death by the Visitation of God

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

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

Limbrick negro child a slave July 22, 1856 at Wm. R. A. Thomas's, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that limbrick here lying dead came to his death by a visitation of god

Dudley Roundtree August 10, 1856 at the dwelling house of the late Dudley Roundtree, Edgefield County, SC

the said Dudley Roundtree came to his death. . .that the said death was by the visitation of God, and so the jury sworn and [?] as aforesaid upon their oaths declare

Mary Jane Johnson child September 25, 1856 at Sarah [?] house, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they believe . . .that it Came to its by the visitation of God

Simon West March 25, 1857 near the house of dec'd, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that it is by the visitation of God

Doublin male slave, boy April 5, 1857 at the Residence of Mrs Delila Philips, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say. . .that the deceased Doublin in manner and form aforesaid came to his death by a Providential occurrence under the influence of an apoplectic fit.

George slave June 24, 1857 at W.B. family[?] plantation, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said George came to his death by the [?] of Almighty God.

Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, they believe the said slave Rhoda came to her death by some invisible and unknown cause or causes; perhaps a disease of the heart

Sarah Bressey September 14, 1857 at [?] Village, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . . she came to her death . . . by a natural death.

Silvia October 10, 1857 at the House of J.s. W. Holliday, Horry County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the said Silvia a slave Came to her death by the Visitation of God

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

Edward slave, boy October 22, 1857 at the residence of Wm Miller, Edgefield County, SC

came to his death by the act of Providence

Simon C. Wood[?] December 26, 1857 at Wm Calelaziers[?], Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Simon C Nood came to his death by some unknown cause or rather by the visitation of Providence

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

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

George April 21, 1858 at Dr J G Tragham's, Laurens County, SC

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

Fom[?] July 2, 1858 at the Rev. W. W Gwin on cedar creek, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Fom[?] came to his death by an act of (God)

Jim slave October 4, 1858 at Giles Sharps, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Jim came to his death for some cause unknown or the visitation of god

Edward slave, boy October 22, 1858 at the residence of Wm Miller, Edgefield County, SC

the said Boy Came to his death by the act of Providence

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

Dinah slave January 25, 1859 at the late residence of John Gregory deseast, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she died of [?] of the heart which has been protracted[?] for the last ten or twelve months

Sophia Hall March 19, 1859 at or near Samuel Martin's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that no marks of violence could be seen on her body that she the said Sphia came to her death by the hand of God.

W. F. DeBruhl April 20, 1859 at the late residence of W.F. DeBruhl, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Wm. F. Debruhl came to his death by none other than a visition from 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

Jim slave June 10, 1859 at M, L, Bonham Esqr residence on the Pine House road, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Jim a slave. . .came to his death by the act of Providence

Samuel Ward July 19, 1859 at Church Cross Roads, Anderson County, SC

do say that he came to his death by the visitation of providence him being an old man between 75 & 80 years of age.

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

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.

Kizziah[?] slave, servant March 11, 1860 at the residence of Mr M Lanham, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Kisziah came to her death. . .from the Visitation of God in a natural way

Hannah negro woman April 15, 1860 at Smith Cooks, Union County, SC
John G. Riddle July 3, 1860 at the residence of Mr Richard Burton, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that John G Riddle died a natural death caused by infirmitys of old age

Abram slave October 8, 1860 at the Residence of H. B. Raborns, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that. . .the said Abram a slave of H Gallman. . .came to his death by some internal deseased unknown

Wade Barronton October 8, 1860 at Wade Barrontons Residence, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Wade Barronton came to his death. . .by the Visitation of God

Clara slave February 18, 1861 at Thos Bayds[?], Union County, SC

uppon there oaths do say. . . the decd came to her death by hand of the Almity

Laura Jones February 27, 1861 at Esther E. Jones, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Laura E. Jones came to her death By the providence of God at O. H T. Jones home in Laurens District

Briant King May 16, 1861 at the resident of W. D. H. McHaughton, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that on the 16th day of May 1861 in the field at home while at work [Briant] came to his death by none other than a visition of providence

Rebeca Eidson May 29, 1861 at the Residence of William Eidson, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that it is made evident to theme that the said deceased came to here death. . .from Congestion Pneumonia

Sharp infant male child June 5, 1861 at Wm Bovels[?], Union County, SC

uppon there oaths do say that . . .we conclud that Decsd Came to its Death by the hand of the Almighty

Emaline slave April 4, 1862 at R. G. H. Faws[?], Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . .that the deseast came to her death by the visitation of god or some unknown cause

John Gregory September 3, 1862 at John Gregory, Union County, SC

do say that the Decd Came to his death by the hand of God

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