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
Namesort descending Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Method Inquest Finding
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[.]

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

Emaline Jackson August 27, 1894 at Dr Childs Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that from the evidence before us by misfortune and that said misfortune was caused by the bursting of an artery And So the said jurors aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Emaline Jackson came to her death in manner and form

Emanuel Thomas at Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC

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

Emma Alexander July 2, 1885 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths say that from the evidence before them that the said Emma Alexander died from congestion of the lungs

Emma Bennett July 10, 1888 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Emma Benitt came to her death by Som natural caus or causes to the Jury unknown

Emma Duval September 9, 1878 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she . . .came to her death from natural causes

Emmar McDonald daughter November 27, 1881 at William McDonald's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the sd Emma [?] McDonald came to her death by asphyxia of the brain, or some unknown cause

Ephram Ashford at [?], Fairfield County, SC

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

Eva Lyons February 9, 1880 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . . the Dec'd came to her death from Laranges[?] Tracheitis or inflamation of the wind pipe.

Fanny Payton colored woman, free from birth June 20, 1870 at residence of Harry Gallard[?], Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to her death in her bed in the room she usually slept and from disease of the heart

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.

Fayet Walter January 20, 1877 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upont their oaths do say that the dec'd Fayet Walter came to his death from a disease known as congestion of the lungs caused from severe cold

Finley Hall November 30, 1912 at Ansleydale, Chesterfield County, SC

upon theire oaths do say that the Said Finley Hall come to his death by Natural causes

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)

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?

Frank Milton child January 26, 1894 at Sanders Loricks, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oath do say: that said Frank Milton aforesaid came to his death from natural causes, that is to say from inflammation of the lungs

Freeman Cook March 18, 1896 at John Cook's, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Freeman Cook came to his death from natural causes.

G. D. Gullege June 14, 1909 near clus Rallings, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said G. D. Gullege came to his death from natural causes

Garett Doby October 11, 1880 at William Rufus, Edgefield County, SC

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

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

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.

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.

George Blakely August 23, 1889 at Tom Youngs, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that George Blakely came to his death "Natural Causes"

George Bracy August 19, 1871 the plantation of Wm Cassady, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the deceased, George Bracey, came to his death by a visitation of Providence at the plantation Wm Cassady, on the 18th day of August 1871

George Center October 28, 1880 at George W. Centers, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said George W Center came to his death by heart disease

George Hatcher freedman June 19, 1867 at B. W. Hatchers Mill on Shaws creek, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oath do say that George came to his death by some disease unknown to the Jurors

George Jefferis near Crosbyville, Fairfield County, SC

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

George Myers October 21, 1894 at Hornsboro, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the deceased Geo Myers came to his death from Heart failure

George Norris November 23, 1876 at Anderson Courthouse, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said George Norris by act of God died (Consumption)

George Roberts May 2, 1896 Laurens County, SC

we the Jury Empannelled in the case of the State vs dead body of George Roberts find that he died From Heart failure

George Robinson January 12, 1892 at the plantation of E. B. Davis, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say from Heart failure

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

Georgiana Williams Moore July 26, 1882 at TS Langston's plantation, Laurens County, SC

upon their oathes do say that the said Georgiana William Moore came to her death by a visitation of God and died of Embolism of the heart.

Gilbert Crawford July 22, 1921 at Pageland, Chesterfield County, SC

Gilbert Crawford came to his death form natural causes

Grover Cassidy December 3, 1885 at W. F. Pates, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Grover Casidy came to his death on the 3d day of December A D 1885 form som nautral causes or causes unknown to the jurors

H. F. Nivens January 1, 1893 at John Parker, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said H.F. Nivens came to his death form some cause or causes to this Jury unknown

Hannah negro woman April 15, 1860 at Smith Cooks, Union County, SC
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

Hardy McKinney freedman July 28, 1867 at an old field near F. Wyne's, Anderson County, SC

do say that said decd being diseased came to his death by the visitation of God

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

Harriet Hill May 27, 1884 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the aforesaid Harriet Hill ... came to her death 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.

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

Harry Horton October 8, 1889 at Harry Hortons, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the aforesaid Harry Horton came to his death by the act of God or natural causes

Harry McBee May 31, 1876 at Alexander McBee's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths, do say that Harry McBee came to his . . . in the woods near the Premasis of Mr Alexander McBee . . . by the visitation of God

Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the said Hartwell Roper fell dead in the field at his plow

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

Henry Clarkson May 10, 1871 at Antiark Church, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say ... that the aforesaid Henry Clarkson ... came to his death disease of the heart

Henry Jennings September 14, 1891 at the residense of diceased, Edgefield County, SC

upon the oaths of the Jury aforesaid do say that the said Henry Jennings came to his death from Heart Disease

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