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 1 - 50 of 301
Name Deceased Description Datesort descending Inquest Location Death Method Inquest Finding
Reubin Weaver at Elijah Boatwrights Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say, that Reubin Weaver aforesaid came to his death from heart failure

James Johnson at James Johnson's farm, Union County, SC

he came to his death by some caus unknown to us

Olin Smith Anderson County, SC

I found he died from natural causes

Silvy Nix Edgefield County, SC disease

upon their oaths do Say that She came to her death by natural causes

infant male child infant male child 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

Garett Doby at William Rufus, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say That he came to his death from dropsey of the hart

James Goodson September 28, 1807 Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said James Goodson … was found dead, that he had no such marks of violence on his body as would have occasioned his death & died by the visitation of God & not otherwise

Jane Archer January 13, 1813 in house of Alexander Archer on Brown[?] Creek , Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths that said Jane Archer came to her death on the night Sautrday the tenth of January Instant in a natural way in the house of Alexander Archer

Christopher Norral January 5, 1815 at the Dweling house of John Norals, Union County, SC

say on their oaths that the Said Christopher Norral Came to his Death By the act of God

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.

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 apoplexy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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'

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

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

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

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

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