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 ascending Inquest Finding
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.

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

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

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant February 23, 1883 at Chesterfield C. H., Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say That the said Infant Child came to his death from som cause or causes unknown to the Jurors and that there was no foul play

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

upon their oaths, do say: natural causes

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

Alexander T. Johnson December 2, 1895 at the residence of M.J. Johnson, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that Alexander T Johnson deceast came to his death from or with Bodily Deyses

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

James Goodson September 28, 1807 Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said James Goodson . . .was found dead, that he had no such marks of violence on his body as would have occasioned his death & died by the visitation of God & not otherwise

Amilia Ruffin August 7, 1880 at S.W. Ruffs, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the aforsaid Amilia Ruffin came to her death July the 23d 1880; from natural causes to the jurors unknow,

Joseph Prince April 13, 1842 Union County, SC

came to his death by the visitation of God

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."

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

Sarah Acock February 25, 1881 at D. R. Davison, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the said Sarah Acock came to her deathby some caus or causes unknown to the Jury

Isaac Greer December 29, 1879 at Vernonville, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death by cause or causes unknown to them but in their opinion it was an act of God

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

[No official declaration]

William L. Collins January 9, 1887 at Chesterfield County, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

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

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

Patsy Johnston at Bell plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oath do say that the aforesaid Patsy Johnston came to her death from scrofula.

Pleas Jackson August 6, 1899 at M. E. Tomlinsons, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Ples Jackson came to his death by natural causes

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

Micjah Ward February 9, 1849 at the house of M. Ward, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death by the visitation of God

Thomas Prince July 31, 1848 at the Joal of Said District, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Thomas Prince came to his death by the act of God

W. G. Rivers June 15, 1888 at F. W. Rivers, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said W J Rivers came to his death by som natural caus or causes to the jury unknown

Rachel Dullivan January 30, 1890 at Rachel Dullivan Residence, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Rachel Dullivan came to her death from natural cause (Heart disease).

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

John Boone July 31, 1893 at the residence of Jno Boone, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the deceased came to his death from heart trouble

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.

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

Edward William Davis September 29, 1870 at Ridgeway, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Edward William Davis. "came to his death by a Pulmonary Congestion with Hemorrhage caused from heart disease

Mary Jane Johnson child September 25, 1856 at Sarah [?] house, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they believe . . .that it Came to its by the visitation of God

Martha Stevenson at Daniel Stevenson's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that Martha Stevenson came to her death from natural causes probly influenza[.]

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

Authur Lee Johnson October 1, 1904 at the place of Mary Cassidy, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

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

Samuel Flagg February 18, 1833 near Wilson's old field, Spartanburg County, SC

after examining the body of the sd. dec'd & finding no marks fo violence committed beleave [sic] that he was brought to his death by the visitation of God

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

Gilbert Crawford July 22, 1921 at Pageland, Chesterfield County, SC

Gilbert Crawford came to his death form natural causes

Polly Evins August 18, 1886 at Joe Waters, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from natural causes

Abby February 28, 1840 at Thomas Carters, Laurens County, SC

do Say upon their oaths that the said negro woman Abby, on the 28th Inst 1840 at Thomas Carters in the District afforesaid was found dead and that She dyed by the visitation of god in a natural way & not otherwise.

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

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

George Norris November 23, 1876 at Anderson Courthouse, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said George Norris by act of God died (Consumption)

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

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