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 551 - 573 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
Thomas Harrell January 19, 1838 near the Union line south of Tygar River, Spartanburg County, SC

do say uppon [sic] there [sic] oaths that the said Thomas Harrell. . .had no marks of violence uppon [sic] him and died by the visitation of God in a natural way

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

Jane Laniere August 13, 1880 at the residence of G. B. Whiton, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said Jane Lanier died in the woods near the public road leading from Pendleton to Williamston at the 4 mile post . . .by no foul means but by a disease of the heart

James Boiter May 20, 1887 near Wakefield Bridge, Spartanburg County, SC

upon there oaths do say ... that the aforesaid James Boiter came to his death from heart disease

Drusilla Philips June 18, 1840 at Abram Philips, Laurens County, SC

do Say upon their oaths that; the said Drusilla Philips on the 17th day of June in the year one thousand Eight Hundred and forty one at Abram Philips her husbands own House, in the distrct afore said 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

Isabelle Huggins February 5, 1896 at Jm S. Haggan place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Deceased Isabelle Huggins came to her death from Heart failure

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

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[.]

Pulaskey slave, boy March 30, 1848 at the plantation of J. F> Hill, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that we believe the boy died of disease (Influenza) from the history of the Case

Sarah Martin July 14, 1844 at residence of Mrs. Sarah Martin, Anderson County, SC

do say that the above named Sarah Martin came to her death by the hand of God.

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.

Ben Shubrick col December 24, 1869 at Negro heade Lane, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That they find that the said Ben Shubrick col came to his death by the act of Providence

Amanda Ellerbe July 31, 1881 at the residence of John Ellerbe, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Amanda Ellerbe came to her death by natural causes or the visitation of God

Reuben Brewton January 3, 1880 near Switzer's Bridge, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Reuben Brewton came to his death ... from disease unknown to them inflicted by the hand of God

Lillie C. McManus February 10, 1889 at T. M. McManus's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, by the Hand of God, and from causes unknown to the parents and to the jury

Tench Henson June 8, 1868 at Josepth Moor's, Greenville County, SC

upon there oaths do say that it was the act of Providence

Priscilla Clark March 28, 1837 at the house of Jesse Clark, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Priscilla Clark . . . died by the visitation of God

Richard Stevens February 21, 1898 at Johnston S.C., Edgefield County, SC

upon their Oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Dick Stevens died. . .from visitation of God

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

Alex White September 26, 1899 at M. C. Rays SC, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thare oath do Say that Alx White deceast came to his death By some unknown causes

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

white man white man October 21, 1849 in the woods near Holsonbakers[?] old fields, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say the aforesaid Stranger came to his death from the act of God

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