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 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
E. P. Brown January 1, 1879 at Mrs. E.P. Browns, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the Deceased came to to her death at her Residence Dec. the 31st A.D. 1878 from enlargement of the heart[.]

William McLure December 7, 1844 at or near the plantation of John Gage, Union County, SC

do say that the said William McLure . . .was found lying dead near a small path leading from Union Ville to the plantation of John Gage . . .we therefore do believe that he died from some providential cause to us unknown

Infant of Andrew and Helen Barrett Infant of Andrew and Helen Barrett February 19, 1897 at Andrew Barretts coloud in Chesterfield Co., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, the deceased came to its death by means unknown to the Jury.

Ed Caldwell at Jas. McFir's[?] place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased Ed Caldwell came to his death from heart dissease at his home[.]

Abram slave October 8, 1860 at the Residence of H. B. Raborns, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that. . .the said Abram a slave of H Gallman. . .came to his death by some internal deseased unknown

Simney Harrington August 7, 1868 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that there appearing no signs of violence on his body the deceased came to his death by the visitation of God.

Peter C. Oclan January 7, 1850 at C. Burch's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the sd. P.C. Oclan came to his death by the act of God

Mrs. Joe Landon October 11, 1929 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

according to evidence that an inquest is not necessary

Olin Smith Anderson County, SC

I found he died from natural causes

Alexander Moore May 22, 1889 at Wellford, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased Alexander Moore came to his death from the evidence given and our belief [is] that he died of apoplexy

Auguiste Campbell October 30, 1868 at Auguiste Campbell's, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the Decd. Auguiste Campbell came to his death, from the continual use of peach brandy, he the decd. Being advanced in years to old age & feeble constitution & that the use of sd. Intoxicating brandy, drank from Monday morning the 26th Inst. to the time of his death was the cause of sd. death.

Emaline Jackson August 27, 1894 at Dr Childs Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that from the evidence before us by misfortune and that said misfortune was caused by the bursting of an artery And So the said jurors aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Emaline Jackson came to her death in manner and form

J. W. Hunnicutt December 8, 1896 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Jenny slave April 28, 1836 Kershaw County, SC

do on their oath say that they believe she died of an apoplectic fit, the visitation of God

Wade Chappell at William Steele's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased Wade, Chappell, came to his death from an affection of the heart[.]

negro child negro child November 1, 1837 at Union C.H., Union County, SC

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

Harry slave July 7, 1855 at Pendleton village, Anderson County, SC

do say that we believe he came to his death by the visitation of God.

Nash Ferguson May 23, 1883 at Laurens court house, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the aforesaid Nash Ferguson came to his death on the 23d day of May AD 1883 in Laurens County from general condition of the brain and blood clots on the brain

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

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

Grover Cassidy December 3, 1885 at W. F. Pates, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Grover Casidy came to his death on the 3d day of December A D 1885 form som nautral causes or causes unknown to the jurors

Betsy Pilgram July 2, 1882 at Woodruff, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased ... came to her death by disease of the heart

William A. Jordan December 12, 1891 at William M. Jordan's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that Said Infant came to his death from Some causes or causes to the Jury unknown

James Blackie August 17, 1836 in the house of Ezekiel Hoy, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that they believe James Blackie died on the 16th of August & and that his death was caused by a 'severe acute disease aggravated & hurried to a fatal termination by previous organic affection of all the viscera of the systems

Harry McBee May 31, 1876 at Alexander McBee's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths, do say that Harry McBee came to his . . . in the woods near the Premasis of Mr Alexander McBee . . . by the visitation of God

George Negro Slave April 19, 1830 at the house of Reps Edwards, Union County, SC

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

Sallie Manigo at Mrs. E.M. Turner's place, Fairfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say. That the said Sallie Manigo came to her death from some natural cause unknown to the Jury.

Charity Johnson March 11, 1847 at the Residence of Charity Johnson, late deceased, Edgefield County, SC

do say upon their oaths, that the said Charity Johnson. . .died by the visitation of God

Sallie Perdew January 5, 1902 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

I have this day helt a prliminary ex amination over the dad body of Sallie Prdew and from witnesses find that She Came to her dath nothing other than heart faleior or Change of life this the 4 and 5 days of January 1902

Thomas C. Reaves May 25, 1899 Kershaw County, SC
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

S. D. Lawton July 19, 1911 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

S. D. Lawton suddenly, without any bad natural causes, as far as deponent knows or believes, dropped dead

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

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

Emma Alexander July 2, 1885 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths say that from the evidence before them that the said Emma Alexander died from congestion of the lungs

Saul Bates January 24, 1815 at James Johnsons mill, Laurens County, SC

do say on their oaths are of the opinion that the sd. Saul Betts on the 24th of Jany. 1815 Came to his death by the Act of God at James Johnsons mill in the district afore sd.

Albert Watson June 15, 1892 at the plantation of W.B. Maffett, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Albert Watson came to his death from Natural Causes

W. L. Pegues July 16, 1894 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said W L Pegues came to his death from natural causes.

Caswell Waldrop April 18, 1882 at the residence of Caswell Waldrop, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . . the said Caswell Waldrop . . . came to his death from the effect of an epileptic fit.

Charles Jones February 11, 1879 at R.J. Gladney's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the aforesaid Charles Jones came to his death by disease unknown to the Jury[.]

Elizabeth Mitchel October 12, 1845 at the dwelling house of David Mitchel, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .the deceased went to bed in the house of David Mitchel . . .in good health, and was found a corps on the morning of the twelfth, and do believe that She came to her death by a visitation of god

Infant of Mary Sellers Infant of Mary Sellers December 1, 1894 at J. H. Seller's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: the infant child came to its death from natural causes

Daniel Johnson May 19, 1871 at John T. Johnsons, Horry County, SC

upon their Oaths do Say that the said Daniel Johnson infant came to his death by the hand of God

Wade Barronton October 8, 1860 at Wade Barrontons Residence, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Wade Barronton came to his death. . .by the Visitation of God

Nathan Moore April 1, 1870 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say, That the diseased was and had been for some time afflicted with a Heart disease, which we believe caused his very sudden death at the Corner of market and third streets in cheraw on Friday April the first 1870 at 5 O clk PM

Simon West March 25, 1857 near the house of dec'd, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that it is by the visitation of God

Vance Melton January 18, 1930 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that he came to his death from natural causes

Elizabeth Pinnel February 27, 1851 at the late residence of Elizabeth Pinnel, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Elizabeth Pinnel in maner[?] and form aforesaid came to her death by the providence of God

Nancy Loyns June 25, 1889 at Elias Ballingers, Spartanburg County, SC

upon there oaths do say from the evidence heard in case and our belief is that she died of consumption

David Jeans March 5, 1870 Laurens County, SC

We the undersigned Jurors do say that we believe the said david Jeans freedman came to his death by the Visitation of God.

infant, child infant, child November 29, 1894 at the plantation of J. P. Roton, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . .the said Infant aforesaid. . .came to its death from natural causes

Molsie Knight February 6, 1897 at Reid Knight's, Chesterfield County, SC

So the Jurors aforesaid do say that the aforesaid Molsie Knight in manner and form aforesaid did come to Her death in a way that is unknown to the Jury we decide that it was an act of God.

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