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 Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
Samuel Threatt November 4, 1892 at Samuel Threatt's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths Do say," that the Deceased came to his Death by some unknown cause to them

Scott Infant Child Scott Infant Child July 30, 1891 at W. A. Buchanan's Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said Infant child came to its death form natural cause or causes to this Jury unknown

Sealy Henry July 1, 1873 Laurens County, SC

we the under named jurors do find in accordance with the opinion of Dr. S. S. Knight. By disease most probably epilepsy caused her death.

Catharine Rodgers child September 30, 1879 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . . the deceased came to her death from congestion of the Lungs

Willis Arther Jenkins February 4, 1888 at J. C. Jenkins, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Willis Arther Jenkins came to his death by some natural cause or causes unknown to the jurors and that he dide on the 4 day of Feb 1888

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

Mittie Mitchell September 19, 1902 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Anna G. Cason June 10, 1883 at Williamston, Anderson County, SC

do say that the death of said Anna Cason (after hearing the testimony) was caused by disease of the heart.

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[.]

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

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

Hester Mobley June 27, 1868 at David Gladney's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . . that from the testimony the Said Hester Mobley came to her death by the desease, She was Suffering from, The disease of the Heart.

Caroline Coleman July 25, 1893 at Brisel[?] Blacks Residence, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say. . .that the said Caroline Coleman aforesaid came to her death from heart failure

Henry Williams October 13, 1889 at the Plantation of C.C. Garlington, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Henry Williams came to his death by "Natural Causes."

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

Malsey A. Blakeny August 12, 1894 at the house of W. E. Courtney, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say "that she came to her death by an act 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

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.

Prince Crawford November 29, 1916 at Pageland, Chesterfield County, SC

Prince Crawford came to his death from natural causes

Dilsey Seigler September 20, 1869 at Miles Mills, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the said Dilsey came to her death by an act of Providence after long affliction

Edward Bownes April 30, 1874 at Cheraw, S. C., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Edward Bownes came to his death by sum caus or causes to them unknown at His Residence in Cheraw in the 24 day of April A.D. 1874

Sally Foster April 14, 1876 at Flora[?] Manwell[?], Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Sally Foster died of Epileptic Convulsion or as is more commonly called Fitts

Calline Crosby Fairfield County, SC

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

Watson Jackson June 5, 1880 at Jackson Grove Church, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that at his mother's house of the plantation of Mr. A. Smith ... Watson Jackson came to his death by Malarial Fever

Nancy Loyns June 25, 1889 at Elias Ballingers, Spartanburg County, SC

upon there oaths do say from the evidence heard in case and our belief is that she died of consumption

Matilda Hall June 28, 1880 at residence of deceased on plantation of C.S. Brice, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Matilda Hall came to her death by heart disease,-the act of Almighty God.

W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oath do Say he come to his Death by Providential occurance or heart failure

Answorth Middleton December 3, 1816 at James Boyds, Laurens County, SC

Do say that he the said Answorth Middleton came to his Ende by the hand 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

Rose Brodie June 5, 1897 on MacFarland plantation, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Rose Brodie came to her death by from natural causes

Eber B. Stevens March 5, 1873 at Pendleton, Anderson County, SC

do say . . . by a visitation 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

Baby Roscoe June 18, 1934 at Ruby & Hartsville Cross Roads, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Still Born

Julia Banks September 4, 1891 at Mr Banks Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . .Mrs Julia Banks . . .Supposed to have died from heart decise

Alice Miller November 16, 1893 in Alice Miller's house, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death from Heart Disease and that no violence of any kind was used by any person.

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

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

Infant of Andrew and Helen Barrett Infant of Andrew and Helen Barrett February 19, 1897 at Andrew Barretts coloud in Chesterfield Co., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, the deceased came to its death by means unknown to the Jury.

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.

Ranse Lowry July 21, 1888 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

The finding of the Jury is that the deceased came to his death by mischance

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

Sebron Miller June 30, 1903 at Jefferson, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Sebron Miller came to his deth by natural causes

Olin Smith Anderson County, SC

I found he died from 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[.]

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

James Robertson September 13, 1885 at Calvin Brewton's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the aforesaid James Robertson came to his death by disease of the heart

Doreas Mobley May 18, 1870 at the house of Mrs. Doreas Mobley, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Dorene Mobley on the 18th day of May in the year One thousand Eigth Hundred and Seventy at her house in the county aforesaid, was found dead, that she had no marks of violence upon her, and died by the visitation of God in a natural way, and not otherwise.

Lidda Hampton November 24, 1893 at A Derrecks, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Lidda Hampton came to her death from heart failure

Jack Dendy October 25, 1889 at Jack Dendys, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Jack Dendy came to his death "From Providential Causes."

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

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