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 151 - 200 of 301
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Method Inquest Finding
Joe Jenkins October 8, 1881 at the residence of Matilda Rud, Anderson County, SC disease

do say that the deceased came to his death upon hart [sic] disease

Joel W. Warren November 9, 1894 at Joseph Mirren[?] House, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say and belief that he Joel W. Warren came to his death by heart failure

John Brown December 20, 1844 at the house of John Brown, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that … the aforesaid John Brown came to his death by mischance or misfortune by the act of God, unknown to the Jurors

John Brownlee June 7, 1863 at Williamston, Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to his death, not from any violence but by the visitation of God to the best of our knowledge and belief.

John Bryce March 7, 1815 in the town of Camden, Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said John Bryce came to his death in the Town of Camden aforesaid, on the night of the sixth Instant of a visitation of God.

John Day January 28, 1878 at the Guard house, Greenville County, SC disease

upon their oaths do say that the said John Day came to his death from the natural cause to wit[?] congestion of the brain

John G. Riddle July 3, 1860 at the residence of Mr Richard Burton, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that John G Riddle died a natural death caused by infirmitys of old age

John Gregory September 3, 1862 at John Gregory, Union County, SC

do say that the Decd Came to his death by the hand of God

John Jones December 16, 1817 at John Jones's, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths … that the said John Jones did die a natural death

John M. Bonds December 16, 1850 at Isom R. Bond's, Anderson County, SC throat disease caused inflation of larynx

do say having understood that the said John M. Bonds died very suddenly on the mornign of the 15th of this Instant while going as a boat hand on Savannah River…we the jury report that we fully concur in the opinion of the said doctors as reported by them to the coroner...that is to say that John M. Bonds came to his death by a diseased action in the Larynx producing or giving rise to suffocation.

John McDaniel May 31, 1839 at McCaskill's graveyard, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say we found upon examination of the body of John McDaniel no cause nor have heard any testimony to lead us to believe that he cam eto his death otherwise than by 'a visitiation of God'

John McDonald April 15, 1839 at Daniel McDonalds, Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths that they believe the said John McDonald ... being a youth in the district aforesaid there & then died of the visitation of God

John Nelson June 5, 1826 in the house of John Nelson Sen'r on Grannie's Quarter, Kershaw County, SC

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

John S. Collins May 29, 1870 at Mr. John S. Collin's residence, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the sd. J.S. Collins came to his death by the hand of God

John Savage January 27, 1852 at John Savages, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that … John Savage Sr was Providentially taken away by the act of God

John Saylor August 6, 1870 at or near the Ridge road near E. R. Cobb's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that said John Saylor…died we think and believe from some disease of the heart or an appoplectic [apoplectic] fit.

John Seawright October 22, 1881 on the public road leading from Craytonville to Anderson Court House, Anderson County, SC disease

do say the said came to dis death from disease of the heart….the deceased came to his death by some providence of God.

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

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

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

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

Joseph Moore Jr. April 19, 1846 at the house of Dr John D. Nicholson, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Joseph Moore Jr came to his death by the rupture of a blood vessel of the lungs

Joseph Prince April 13, 1842 Union County, SC

came to his death by the visitation of God

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

Joshua Clark January 26, 1885 on a rode leading from B. B. Martin's to John Champions, Spartanburg County, SC heart disease

upon their oaths do say that said deceased came to his death by an organic disease of the Heart

Julia Banks September 4, 1891 at Mr Banks Plantation, Edgefield County, SC disease

upon their oaths do say that … Mrs Julia Banks … Supposed to have died from heart decise

Julia Rice June 27, 1887 at Clough Rice's, Spartanburg County, SC heart disease

upon their oaths do say that in our opinion the deceased came to her death from some natural cause, probably heart disease

Kent slave January 12, 1845 at the house of David Maberry, Spartanburg County, SC

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

Kisiah Frazier December 17, 1893 at the plantation of T S Rainsforde, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Kisiah Frazier came to her death from natural causes … Rheumatic trouble of the heart

Kizziah[?] slave, servant March 11, 1860 at the residence of Mr M Lanham, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Kisziah came to her death … from the Visitation of God in a natural way

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

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

Laban Johnson May 15, 1889 at Clifton, Spartanburg County, SC heart trouble

do say that the said Laban Johnson came to his death from heart troubles brought on by natural causes

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

Lawrence Lenhardt July 5, 1882 at Greenville CH, Greenville County, SC illness

upon their oaths do say that … came to his death from strangulation of the hernia[?] of long duration

Leanora M. Cannon February 25, 1879 Spartanburg County, SC spitting up blood

upon their oaths do say that ... the said Leonora M. Cannon died from the rupture of a blood vessel which caused a rush of blood into the lungs and instant death ensued

Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation, Edgefield County, SC disease

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death from rheumatism of the Heart … by natural causes

Levi S. Mathews July 13, 1892 at G. C. Wheerles[?] Residence, Edgefield County, SC

upon their do Say … that the aforesaid Levi S. Mathews … Came to his death from hart Failure

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

Lewis negro man March 20, 1846 at & in the Revd Mr. Brooks Plantation, Edgefield County, SC exposure

upon their Oaths do say, that, he decd … the said Boy came to his death by & exposure to extreme hunger & Cold

Lewis Denham December 6, 1883 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that said Lewis Denham ... in the field near his house died of natural causes

Liberty slave August 1, 1843 at John Murph's, Spartanburg County, SC

do say uppon [sic] their oaths that he was found in his house lying dead on the floor and came to his death by the act of God

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

Lila Gambrell October 21, 1875 at the house of Ran Duckworth, Anderson County, SC epileptic seizure

do say that the said Lila Gambrell came to her death by mischance produced by personal epolepsy [sic].

Limbrick negro child a slave July 22, 1856 at Wm. R. A. Thomas's, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that limbrick here lying dead came to his death by a visitation of god

Lizza colered woman October 7, 1866 at the house of Thomas S. Miller, Edgefield County, SC disease

upon there oaths do say that the deceased died from a desease of the Heart

Lizzie Greeg July 4, 1884 at Capt Taliar[?] Hearin[?], Edgefield County, SC possible alcohol

upon there oaths aforesaid do say that the aforesaid Lizzie Greeg Came to her death from natural Causes

Lona May Hamilton child October 18, 1893 at or near Longmires PO[?], Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that she said Lona May Hamilton came to death … on the plantation of J.A. Deale … by accidental suffication

Lou Terry November 25, 1884 Spartanburg County, SC

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

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

Loverberry B. Musgrove October 9, 1866 at the residence of Ms. James, Widow, near the Court House, Union County, SC disease

upon their oaths do say that the said Loveberry B. Musgrove, at the residence of Mrs. James, Widow, … did die by visitation of Almight God

Lydia Parish December 6, 1835 at the house of Mrs. L. Parrish on Rutledge Street in the town of Camden, Kershaw County, SC

find no reason to suppose the deceased came to her death otherwise than by the act of God or in the course of nature from diesease the particular character of which is unknown to us

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