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.’

NEXT: Meet the Coroners

 

Natural Causes Inquests

Displaying 51 - 100 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
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

Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, they believe the said slave Rhoda came to her death by some invisible and unknown cause or causes; perhaps a disease of the heart

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.

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

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

Prince Crawford came to his death from natural causes

John Williams February 9, 1879 at the house of Newton Perry [?] on the plantation of Thomas Cox, Anderson County, SC

do say, that deceased [John Williams] came to his death by dropsical affiction.

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

Dick August 13, 1818 on the plantation of John Boyd, Laurens County, SC

the said Dick came to his death by the Act of God do Say upon their oaths here inserted.

James Leppard February 13, 1893 at F. M. Leppards, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say. . .the deceased came to his death by Rheumation of the heart

Sabia Covington January 14, 1895 at Chesterfield C. H., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Sabia Covington came to her death from some natural cause or causes Unknown to them

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

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.

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

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant June 4, 1868 at FW Gaylords, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said child was still born. . .

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."

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

Nancy Therrel February 19, 1876 at Mr. John Therrels, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Nacy Therel came to her death by some natural caus unknown to the jury

Elijah M. Cooper August 25, 1877 at the residence of Elijah M. Cooper, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said E.M. Cooper came to his death. . .while engaged at work on his fieds near his residence from some cause which the jury believes to have been disease of the heart

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

upon their oaths, do say: Still Born

Joseph Smith freeman July 25, 1866 at Benjamin Vaughn's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death . . .by some means unknown to the jurors

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

Reubin Weaver December 28, 1895 at Elijah Boatwrights Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

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

J. B. Whittle November 28, 1894 at Mrs Whittles, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said J.B. Whittle came to his death from natural cause

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

Angeline Allen February 27, 1899 at A.L. Sims', Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that we are convinced that the above Angeline Allen came to her death from natural causes

Willy Hall February 19, 1845 at Black River in the stage road, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Willy Hall came to his death by the visitation of God

Infred Padgett July 12, 1848 at the Joal of Edgefield, Edgefield County, SC

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

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

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

Elsie Sloan November 17, 1889 on the plantation of J H Sloan, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Elsie Sloan came to her death by the act of God.

Matt Loyd February 24, 1891 at Mr. Carmal cemetary near the Old Wills, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oath do say that the said Matt Loyd died from Dropsy[?] of the heart

Sidney Rhinehart December 26, 1883 at Spartanburg, Spartanburg, S.C., Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that ... Sidney Rhinehart died of Cerebral Apoplexy

Sarah Johnson July 8, 1893 at Hebron Church, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said Sarah Johnson came to her death from natural causes

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

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

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.

James Johnson October 13, 1852 at James Johnson's farm, Union County, SC

he came to his death by some caus unknown to us

unnamed infant unnamed infant September 8, 1855 at the Plantation of the late William Montgomery, Horry County, SC

upon their Oaths do say That upon a Post-morten examination, that from the decomposed state of the Child, having been dead 8 days and buried 7 days, that we can not see any sign of violence or Poesen,--but from the emty state of the Childs Stomach and Bowels, believe that the death of the Child was caused by withholding the necessary nurishment, from its Mothers breast, or otherwise

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."

Edward slave, boy October 22, 1857 at the residence of Wm Miller, Edgefield County, SC

came to his death by the act of Providence

Sarah Ellen Oliver January 2, 1904 at J. W. Crawley's place, Chesterfield County, SC

from the examination and testimony believe that she came to her death from natural causes.

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

Ned Redfern January 24, 1916 at Evans Mill, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: natural causes

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]

T. G. Cooper June 5, 1886 at the late residence of T. G. Cooper, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said T. G. Cooper came to his death in his own house we suppose by heart disease

Monday May 9, 1833 at Mr. John Smiths, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Negro Slave Monday, died by the visitation of God as he had no marks of violence upon him such as would lead to suppose he came to his death otherwise than in a natural way.

infant infant May 5, 1893 at F. L. Foys, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say we find that deceased Infant. . .came to its death from natural causes

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

Loucinda Alexander December 7, 1883 at the house of Camel Alexander, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death by the acts of Providence unknown to us

Sarilla Coleman August 5, 1880 at the residence of Henry Jeffares, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that in their opinion Savilla Coleman came to her death from apoplexy or congestion of the brain.

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

Get in touch

  • Department of History
    220 LeConte Hall, Baldwin Street
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602-1602
  • 706-542-2053
  • admin@ehistory.org

eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry

Learn More about eHistory

Supporters

+ American Council of Learned Societies
+ DigiLab, Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, University of Georgia