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 51 - 100 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Method Inquest Finding
Benjamin Crowley January 31, 1888 at Benjamin Crowley's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Benjamin Cawley came to his death by some natural cause or causes unknown to the Jury and that he dide on the 30 day of January AD 1888

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

Bessie Marshal child November 22, 1893 at Henry Foster's, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say "that Bessie Marshal came to her death by the hand of Providence, at the house of Henry Foster, on the 22nd day of November 1893."

Betsey Wingo June 9, 1886 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the said Betsey Wingo came to her death by the rupture of an aneurism in the right subclavian artery

Betsy Pilgram July 2, 1882 at Woodruff, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased ... came to her death by disease of the heart

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."

Bettie Willis March 24, 1892 at the Croker place the home of Miss Bettie Willis, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the Said Miss Bettie Willis Came to her death. . .by the Act of God. From Heart Failure or disease accompied with Dropsie

Betty Gene Mangum December 19, 1934 at Pageland, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Bilpha Hargroove February 1, 1847 at Joseph Simmon's, Laurens County, SC

do say upon there oaths, That after a thorough examination of the body we find no marks of violence or bruises on the body, we after a full examination of the testimony we are of opinion that the Deceased came to her death by appoplectic fit or some suffocation.

Bird Yarbor December 20, 1903 at McBee, SC, Chesterfield County, SC

the deceased -- Bird Yarbor -- came to his death by heart failure or some natural cause.

Blair Massey Alias: Isaac Funderburk May 16, 1896 at Phillip Arrant, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say that the deceased came to his death by natural causes

Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation, Edgefield County, SC

the said Bluford Abney came to his death by natural causes or colic

Bob negro September 23, 1864 in the District, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say and dclare that the said Bob came to his death by the Visitation of God

Borough August 21, 1853 on the high Road near Marengo, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he had no marks of violence upon him and that he died by the visitation of God & not otherwise.

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

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

Calline Crosby Fairfield County, SC

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

Caroline Batson freed woman November 21, 1866 at Reedy River Church, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death by exposing herself while sick with fever

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

Caroline Timons January 10, 1901 at Mount Croghan, Chesterfield County, SC

I have this day held a preliminary examination ovr the dad body of Caroline Timons and from the evidence of witness I do not deam It necary to hold an inqest but form such witness find that the Sed Caroline Timons came to her dath from none other than natural Causes this The 10 day of January 1901

Caswell Waldrop April 18, 1882 at the residence of Caswell Waldrop, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . . the said Caswell Waldrop . . . came to his death from the effect of an epileptic fit.

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

Catherine Smith September 4, 1893 at D. A. Smith's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Catherine Smith came to her death from some Providential cause unknown to the Jury

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

Chanya slave December 31, 1849 at A.G.W. Gordon's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death by infirmity and old age

Charity Bozeman June 11, 1880 at the house of Aby McAlister, Anderson County, SC

do say that Charity Bozeman came to her death by Harte Deaseas [sic]

Charity Johnson March 11, 1847 at the Residence of Charity Johnson, late deceased, Edgefield County, SC

do say upon their oaths, that the said Charity Johnson. . .died by the visitation 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[.]

Charles Goswell February 9, 1883 at John Goswell's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say the said Charles Goswell came to his death from natural causes unknown to the Jury

Charles Jones February 11, 1879 at R.J. Gladney's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the aforesaid Charles Jones came to his death by disease unknown to the Jury[.]

Charles Young July 16, 1885 at Anderson's Mills, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Charles Young came to his death from Apoplexy near Anderson's Mills

Charley Gainey November 18, 1903 at T.C. Williams', Chesterfield County, SC

the said Charley Gainey diseased came to his death from heart failure

Charley Martin June 23, 1889 at Lanfords station, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Charley Martin came to his death by "Heart Failure."

Charley Turner February 8, 1922 at J W Patsobe, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That Charley Turner came to his death from natural cause

Charley Young June 17, 1893 on the plantation of Henry Young, Laurens County, SC

upon their oathes do say that the said Charley Young came to his death from (Heart Failure).

Charlotte slave August 6, 1837 in Camden, Kershaw County, SC

do say that she came to her death by affliction[?] of the heart

Charlotte Johnson July 9, 1906 on the plantation of George Johnson, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Charmes October 7, 1865 at Levison Fowlers, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the Freedman Charmes came to his death by the act of God

Chasey Futrul May 4, 1888 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Chasey Futrul came to her death by Som natural caus or causs to the jury unknown and she dide on the 4 day of May 1888

Child of Mary Muree Child of Mary Muree October 8, 1833 at the meeting house nown by the name of Pleasant Hill, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oaths, the affore said child then and their died of the visitation of God, and not otherwise.

Christen Turnage August 29, 1892 at Robert Turnage, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that Christen Turnage came to her death form some cause or causes to the Jury unknown

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

Cintha Boon April 10, 1926 [Stein?] Pin Township, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Died of Heart failure

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

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[.]

Clarisa Epps July 20, 1868 at Laurens C.H., Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the afore said Claricy Epps came to her death by the visitation of God.

Clarissa Campbell freedwoman March 29, 1867 at the residence of Sarah Campbell, Anderson County, SC

that the said Clarissa Campbell a freedwoman came to her death natural by the act 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

Cooper slave March 17, 1852 at the plantation of L.H. Mundy decd, Edgefield County, SC

where & when & by what means the Said Slave, Cooper came to his death By acute Gastro Duodinitis[?]

Curtis Outlaw February 21, 1895 at Campbell's Graveyard, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Curtis Outlaw came to his death form blood clot on the brain [????] apoplexid

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