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 101 - 150 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
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.

James Lee April 7, 1834 at Amos Lee's, Union County, SC

do say upon there oaths that the sd James Lee . . .on the plantation of William Hay[?] . . .Dyed By the Visitation of god in a natural way

Morriss unknown free man of color January 7, 1858 at Grief Tater's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say the said that Morris (a free man of color)?more than probably came to his death by dropsy of the heart

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

Prince Crawford came to his death from natural causes

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.

Silvy Nix January 1, 1891 Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that She came to her death by natural causes

Elizabeth Walker March 1, 1879 at P. A. McDavid, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Elizabeth Walker came to her death by misfortune or accident

infant child infant child February 28, 1877 at Greenville CH, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said infant child of Ella Mitchell came to his death caused by congestion of the liver stomach & bowels

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

Daniel W. Willis September 27, 1887 at the residence of the deceased Daniel Willis, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the [said] Daniel Willis came to his death of heart disease

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.

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

Unknown infant Unknown infant July 14, 1879 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that , according to the evidence before them, the said infants came to this death in the house of Alie Williams on Church street in Town of Cheraw one on Saturday night the other on Sunday - both form natural causes

John B. Garrison February 21, 1894 in Clinton, Laurens Co, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said John Garrison died from mitral Insufficiency.

Ann Funderburk August 27, 1880 at Oak Hill Grave Yard, Chesterfield County, SC

upon oaths do say that the said Ann Funderburk died on the 14th Aug A.D. 1880 of natural causes.

Negro child Negro child September 29, 1835 at Robt Beety[?], Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that The said child . . .died by the visitation of God in a natural way

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

came to his death by the act of Providence

Peter Williford May 2, 1876 at Daniel Williford's, Anderson County, SC

do say that some time between the hours of 3 oclock on the 1st of May 1876 and 8oclock on the 2d day of may May 1876 that the deceased came to his death by the act of God

Earnest Leland Smith Jr. December 12, 1945 at Chesterfield, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Earnest Leland Smith, Jr. received in Chesterfield County a mortal wound by causes unknown

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

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

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

Dinah slave January 25, 1859 at the late residence of John Gregory deseast, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she died of [?] of the heart which has been protracted[?] for the last ten or twelve months

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

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

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

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.

Peyton Bird colored September 29, 1869 at Edgefield CH, Edgefield County, SC

do say as follows: That we the Jurors find that the deceased Peyton Bird came to his death by visitation of God from rupture of a blood vessel called Aorta

negro child negro child October 11, 1857 at T. C. Lesters, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death by strangling or choking with phlegm

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

infant September 30, 1884 at the residence of W. A. Reed, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said infant came to its death resulting from scarlett fever or whatever the disease might have been

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.

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

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

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."

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.

Levy negro man slave January 9, 1849 at Austin Wilson's, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Levy Came to his death by natural Cause and that was an Act of God

Sophia Hall March 19, 1859 at or near Samuel Martin's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that no marks of violence could be seen on her body that she the said Sphia came to her death by the hand of God.

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

upon their oaths, do say: natural causes

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.

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

Lansford Mosley June 19, 1879 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say. . . the said Lansford Moseley came to his death from disease unknown to the Jury

L. O'Brien August 5, 1877 at Greenville CH, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Mrs. L. B. O'Brien came to her death from a natural cuase to[?] with[?] by a disease known as paralasis of the brain

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

Nelly Grazier July 8, 1888 at Enora, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that thy are the believe that the said Nellie Grazier came to her death by the hand of providence

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.

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

Unknown infant Unknown infant July 14, 1879 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that , according to the evidence before them, the said infants came to this death in the house of Alie Williams on Church street in Town of Cheraw one on Saturday night the other on Sunday - both form natural causes

Thomas J. Fuller October 5, 1894 at T.J. Fuller's, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said T.J. Fuller came to his death "From Natural Causes."

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