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 201 - 250 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
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

Blair Massey Alias: Isaac Funderburk May 16, 1896 at Phillip Arrant, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say that the deceased came to his death by natural causes

James Drake December 7, 1854 at residence of James Drake, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said James Drake came to his death by the hand of God

James Hall September 25, 1818 in town of Camden, Kershaw County, SC

do say upon a view of the body of the deceased . . . that he came to his death by the visitation 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[.]

Sharp infant male child June 5, 1861 at Wm Bovels[?], Union County, SC

uppon there oaths do say that . . .we conclud that Decsd Came to its Death by the hand of the Almighty

Georgiana Williams Moore July 26, 1882 at TS Langston's plantation, Laurens County, SC

upon their oathes do say that the said Georgiana William Moore came to her death by a visitation of God and died of Embolism of the heart.

James Mitchell February 18, 1879 at L D Laudrums, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Jas Mitchell came to his death by means unknown

E. A. Teal September 1, 1883 near and on the north side of the Public Road leading from Chesterfield C. H. to Abrahams Creek and the middle prong of said Creek, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said E.A. Teal, came to her death from natural causes there neing no marks of violence upon her body

Sally Foster April 14, 1876 at Flora[?] Manwell[?], Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Sally Foster died of Epileptic Convulsion or as is more commonly called Fitts

Peter Moore July 3, 1880 at the residence of Mrs. Mary Dobson near Cedar Hill, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death ... by an act of Almighty God

Unknown at the Gailiard Plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said infants death was from premature birth, from best evidence we can get, it not being over six months old the 17 of Feb 1886[.]

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

Spencer Knott August 9, 1890 at Spencer Knotts', Chesterfield County, SC

Jurors aforesaid that said that Spencer Knotts came to his death from some natcherel case or cosses to the jury owns known

Rachell Smith at the McDowell place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from dissease of the heart.

Cooper slave March 17, 1852 at the plantation of L.H. Mundy decd, Edgefield County, SC

where & when & by what means the Said Slave, Cooper came to his death By acute Gastro Duodinitis[?]

Mary Jane Rivers September 12, 1900 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

I do not deem it necessary to hold an inquest but from such evidence find that the said Mrs Jane Rivers came to her death from none other than natural causes.

James Coleman September 16, 1873 at or near Mrs. Fantt's residence and one and 1/2 miles south east of Anderson, Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to his death by the act of God.

Mary Champion November 10, 1870 at Camden, Camden, S.C., Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that [the] deceased came to her death by a visitation or the act of God

Amy Crawford February 2, 1890 at Neal Crawford, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thire oaths do say that he Said Aimie Crawford came to her death by some cause or causes to this jury unknown

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

Ned Dial December 25, 1890 at Powers, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say That Ned Dial came to his death from natural causes.

Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that Marsha Lanham Came to her death from hart failure

Dora Jackson December 26, 1893 near Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the deceased Dora Jackson came to her death in the manner and from aforesaid that is from natural causes

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.

Jane Ashmore child April 3, 1880 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . .the said Jane Ashmore came to her death from natural causes

Thomas R. Bell December 23, 1876 at the late residence of Thos R. Bell, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say after hearing the testimony for the state, that Tho's R. Bell's death was caused by disease of the heart

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

Mary Knopp Fairfield County, SC

do state that said Mrs Mary Knopp came to her death by "heart failure."

Victor male slave April 24, 1859 at A. L. Dearing Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Victor came to his death by a providential occurance

E. D. Holly September 21, 1907 at Holley's Mill, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: She died from natural causes

Olin Smith Anderson County, SC

I found he died from natural causes

Roster slave July 27, 1844 at Fielden Clayton's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon thear [sic] oathes [sic] that the said Roster. . .was found dead, that she had no marks of violence upon her, and died by the visitation of God

Cintha Boon April 10, 1926 [Stein?] Pin Township, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Died of Heart failure

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

Nehemiah Franks July 27, 1859 at Nehemiah Franks, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he the aforesaid Nehemiah Franks in manner and form aforesaid do say that he came to his death in his own house by the act of God.

infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Infant Came to its death from a cause unknown

Ida Sellers June 4, 1896 at W.K. Sellers' Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Ida Sellers came to her death from some causes or cause unknown to them

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.

Milly Roler November 2, 1819 Kershaw County, SC

do say upon their oaths [that] the said Milley Roler came to her Death by the act of God as far we know

Anarky Thompson at Joe Freshleys, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from diseas of the heart called osfication of the valve of the heart, on the plantation of Joe Freshley, in Fairfield County SoC. The 1st of May 1884.

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

Fanny Sullivan at JS Martins, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that on the 17th day of November 1882 Fanny Sullivan came to her death by a disease of the Heart and appoplexy.

Isaac Jones July 1, 1881 at Ridge Spring, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the deceast came to his death from Nattural Causese the visitation of Providence

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 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

Edward Fuller July 30, 1880 at Spartanburg C.H., Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Edw. O Fuller ... came to his death from conjestion of the brain or other natural cause

Unknown March 26, 1875 at the residence of Mr. John Murpheys, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the death of the Child was the Act of God

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

Martha McFarlan September 20, 1890 at Robert Mcfarlan, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thire oaths do say that the Said Martha McFarling came to her death from natural causes to the Jury unknown

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