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 201 - 250 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
Fom[?] July 2, 1858 at the Rev. W. W Gwin on cedar creek, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Fom[?] came to his death by an act of (God)

Madison Harper September 23, 1867 at the residence of R.E. Ellison, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Madison Harper came to his death from disease by the visitation of God

Amanda Lester December 13, 1884 near Pelham, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say Amanda Lester came to her death from heart disease

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

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

[No official declaration]

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

Amanda Hogan May 11, 1898 at the late residence of Miss Amanda Hogan, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Amanda Hogan came to her death from natural and providential causes

Edmund Chambers November 18, 1819 at the house of Edmund Chambers, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the aforesaid Edmund Chambers. . .died by the visitation of God

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

Mrs. May M. White January 22, 1885 at E. P. Whites, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Mrs. Mary M. White came to her death by some natural cause or causes, on the 22nd day of January A.D. 1885

W. Thomas Welsh January 16, 1890 at Sebram Welsh, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do Say that the Said W. T. Welsh came to his death from some unknown Cause to the Jury

Israel slave November 3, 1845 on the plantation of David Gentry, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said Israel came to his death by mischance, and not from any injury inflicted by the hand of another, but by the act 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[.]

Adeline Terry February 6, 1883 at Henry Grant's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do Say That the said Adline Terry came to her death from som caus or causes unknown to the jurors

Harry slave December 17, 1855 at Jesse Gray's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that he came to it by manner and means to them unknown, but believe it was by the visitation of God

Aaron Oxner October 11, 1877 at Shelton, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that in their opinion & from the[?] best information that Aaron Oxner came to his death from Appoplexy

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

George Blakely August 23, 1889 at Tom Youngs, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that George Blakely came to his death "Natural Causes"

Clarissa Campbell freedwoman March 29, 1867 at the residence of Sarah Campbell, Anderson County, SC

that the said Clarissa Campbell a freedwoman came to her death natural by the act of God

Emanuel Thomas at Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to his death from natural causes[.]

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

Jack Dendy October 25, 1889 at Jack Dendys, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Jack Dendy came to his death "From Providential Causes."

Dick slave March 19, 1837 at the house of Edward Gregory, Union County, SC

do say that the said Dick . . .died by the visitation of God in a natural way

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).

Infant February 3, 1894 at J. B. Presson's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That it came to its death by natural causes sometime between midnight and day on Feb the 3rd 1894

Dudley Roundtree August 10, 1856 at the dwelling house of the late Dudley Roundtree, Edgefield County, SC

the said Dudley Roundtree came to his death. . .that the said death was by the visitation of God, and so the jury sworn and [?] as aforesaid upon their oaths declare

George Myers October 21, 1894 at Hornsboro, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the deceased Geo Myers came to his death from Heart failure

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

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

Jim slave June 10, 1859 at M, L, Bonham Esqr residence on the Pine House road, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Jim a slave. . .came to his death by the act of Providence

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

Hardy January 17, 1848 at the house of I.B. McCall, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oath, do say that the said negro man came to his death by a dispensation of Providence

Wiliam Clinton May 11, 1928 at Wiliam Clinton's place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that Wiliam Clinton came to his Death from natial causes

Nathaniel Miller September 2, 1825 Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths aforesaid that he came to his death by an act of 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

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

Huston Griffith August 24, 1910 at J. N. Sowell's Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the Said Huston Griffith came to Death By natural causes

Kissey Blakeny October 22, 1884 at Kessey Blakenys, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the Deceased came to her death by a natural causs of heart disease

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

Amy Thompson June 12, 1878 at or near Shelton, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the Said Amy Thompson came to her Death from Disease of the Heart.

Waterman Fleming August 3, 1925 at Jule Fleming's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: by natural causes

Hardy McKinney freedman July 28, 1867 at an old field near F. Wyne's, Anderson County, SC

do say that said decd being diseased came to his death by the visitation of God

Charles Aiken at the Bell place, Fairfield County, SC

upo their Oaths do say that the deceased Charles Aiken, came to his death form Rupture of a blood vesel at Narthers Church[.]

Benjamin Bishop November 26, 1840 taken one mile and a half south of the [?] on the main road leading to Jones' ford on Enoree[?] river, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Benjamin Bishop. . . at a place in the woods near the main road. . . died by the visitation of God in a natural way

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.

Elsie Starks at N.C. Roberts' place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from some cause uknown to the Jury between two & seven Oclock the 21st Jan 1883[.]

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

Marisley Malone September 23, 1890 at the residence. Mrs Fooshers, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that on the night of the 22nd day of Sept. AD 1890, at the House of Mrs. Foosher in Laurens County, that the said Marilsey Malone came to her death by the Act of God.

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

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

W. W. Rodgers January 7, 1893 at Clinton, Laurens County, SC

upon their oathes do say that the Aforesaid W W Rodgers came to his death on this 7th day of Jan, about 8, 10 Oclock AM, at Clinton, S.C. from Hemorhage and Blood Clot on the Brain.

Get in touch

  • Department of History
    220 LeConte Hall, Baldwin Street
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602-1602
  • 706-542-2053
  • admin@ehistory.org

eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry

Learn More about eHistory

Supporters

+ American Council of Learned Societies
+ DigiLab, Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, University of Georgia