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 573
Name Deceased Description Datesort descending Inquest Location Death Method Inquest Finding
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[.]

Nettie Frazier at the plantation of Mrs. Nancy Youngue, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to its death from the effects of Whooping cough[.]

Silvy Holmes at Ben Glenn's place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that Silvy Homes came to her death at her daughters Residence at the night of 28th of April AD 1887 from Providential Visitation[.]

Dolly Glenn at the Doly place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceasd came to her death at the home of Joe Jackson the 21st of Aug 1892 from some Natural Causes[.]

Pinkie Lemmon at J.H. Aiken's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, the said Pinkie Lemmon came to her death from Heart Disease[.]

Sindy Simmons at Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to her death at her Brother, Ben Davis in Fairfield County SC the 12 day of Sept 1898 from natural causes[.]

Unknown at the Gailiard Plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said infants death was from premature birth, from best evidence we can get, it not being over six months old the 17 of Feb 1886[.]

Mag Potee at N.D. Roberts place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceasd came to her death at her home the night of the 2d of Sept 1892 from natural causes[.]

Mary Whitman at R.E. Martin's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, the said Mary Whitman came to her death from Heart Disease on the 13 day of June A.D. 1887

Manuel Coleman at Manuel Coleman's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say came to his death by congestion of the Stomach from drinking water.

Calline Crosby Fairfield County, SC

up pon these oths do say that She came to her death from heart failure[.]

Patsy Johnston at Bell plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oath do say that the aforesaid Patsy Johnston came to her death from scrofula.

Jane Owens at Ms. Helen Smith's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say She died from a paroxism of asthma

Bettie McConnell near Lyles Ford, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, "That Bettie McConnell in manner and form aforsaid, came to her death from by heart failure."

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

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

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Abram Alston near Dawkins, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Abram Alston manner and form aforsaid came to his death from natural causes

Sam Clark near Lyles Ford, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that in their opinion Sam Clark came to his death from Heart diseas

Ed Caldwell at Jas. McFir's[?] place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased Ed Caldwell came to his death from heart dissease at his home[.]

Martha Stevenson at Daniel Stevenson's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that Martha Stevenson came to her death from natural causes probly influenza[.]

John Wallcot at Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their Oaths that the deceased came to his death in Winnsboro SC the 7 of Jan 1889 from heart diseas.

George Jefferis near Crosbyville, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that in their opinion George Jefferis came to his death from appoplexy

Fanny Sullivan at JS Martins, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that on the 17th day of November 1882 Fanny Sullivan came to her death by a disease of the Heart and appoplexy.

Martha Stevenson Fairfield County, SC

from what I can see on the other children it died from influenza

Rachell Smith at the McDowell place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from dissease of the heart.

Ely Edwards at Ridgeway, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that we the jurors after viewing the body of Ely Edwards & hearing the testimony in the [?] Believe that his death was the result of natural causes on the night of Dec 14th 1893 about Eleven oclock[.]

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

Olin Smith Anderson County, SC

I found he died from natural causes

Madison Materson at Blythewood, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oath do say that the above decest came to its Death by natural causes on June 20-1895[.]

Maria Powell at the Paggitt place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to her death at her residence the 4 day of May A D 1891 from heart failure.

Thomas Stevenson at the Jesse Wayride place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased Thos. Stevenson, came to his death from some disease supposed to be disease of the Heart[.]

Dorisa Byrd at Martin Byrd's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Dorisa Byrd came to her death from congestion of the lungs at on the plantation of Oliver Sloan[.]

Mary Knopp Fairfield County, SC

do state that said Mrs Mary Knopp came to her death by "heart failure."

Ephram Ashford at [?], Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to his death at his home from heart failure

Infant of Susie Redfern Infant of Susie Redfern at Mt. Croghan, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Clarence Rodgers at the [?] Quarter[?], Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased Clarence Rodgers, came to his death from congestion of the lungs at the Residence of Hanibal Willis[.]

Sallie Walker at M.J. Steel's[?] place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say tha the deceased Sallie Walker came to her death from heart diseas on the Plantation of Mrs M.J. Slide[.]

Sallie Manigo at Mrs. E.M. Turner's place, Fairfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say. That the said Sallie Manigo came to her death from some natural cause unknown to the Jury.

Elsie Starks at N.C. Roberts' place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from some cause uknown to the Jury between two & seven Oclock the 21st Jan 1883[.]

Wade Chappell at William Steele's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased Wade, Chappell, came to his death from an affection of the heart[.]

Anarky Thompson at Joe Freshleys, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from diseas of the heart called osfication of the valve of the heart, on the plantation of Joe Freshley, in Fairfield County SoC. The 1st of May 1884.

Emanuel Thomas at Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to his death from natural causes[.]

Delia Hell at J.K. Alston's plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say the deceased came to her death by softening of the brain; in manner and form aforesaid. She came to her death by the hand of God.

Charles Aiken at the Bell place, Fairfield County, SC

upo their Oaths do say that the deceased Charles Aiken, came to his death form Rupture of a blood vesel at Narthers Church[.]

Rachel Manigun at Feasterville, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that Rachel Manigon[?] died from a stroke of apoplexy on the 4th of Apr. A.D. 1887, at her home on the plantation of J.B. [?][.]

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

Tower December 27, 1809 at Benjamin Strange's, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oaths that they believe his death came by the act of god

Jerry July 11, 1811 at the plantation of James Glen, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oathes, that they are of opinion that the said Negro boy died a Natural Death

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

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