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
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.

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

Doublin male slave, boy April 5, 1857 at the Residence of Mrs Delila Philips, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say. . .that the deceased Doublin in manner and form aforesaid came to his death by a Providential occurrence under the influence of an apoplectic fit.

Pinkie Lemmon at J.H. Aiken's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, the said Pinkie Lemmon came to her death from Heart Disease[.]

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

[No official declaration]

Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death. . .from heart trouble

John Polk February 27, 1889 at Hannah Polks House, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thire oaths do Say Infant child came to his death from natural causes unknown to the Jurors

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

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

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."

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

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

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.

Manerva Proctor September 19, 1876 at Thomas Anderson's place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say: That Manerva Proctor came to her death by disease of the heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

George Hatcher freedman June 19, 1867 at B. W. Hatchers Mill on Shaws creek, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oath do say that George came to his death by some disease unknown to the Jurors

Bettie McConnell near Lyles Ford, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, "That Bettie McConnell in manner and form aforsaid, came to her death from by heart failure."

Samuel Ward July 19, 1859 at Church Cross Roads, Anderson County, SC

do say that he came to his death by the visitation of providence him being an old man between 75 & 80 years of age.

Reubin Weaver December 28, 1895 at Elijah Boatwrights Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say, that Reubin Weaver aforesaid came to his death from heart failure

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

upon their oaths, do say: Died of Heart failure

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

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.

J. H. Collins June 30, 1896 at G.W. Morris' place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the Deceased came to his death from natural causes, from the effects of Rheumatism.

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

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.

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

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

Silvy Nix January 1, 1891 Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that She came to her death by natural causes

Nicholas Gibson June 26, 1884 at the residence of Nicholas Gibson, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say ... that the aforesaid Nicholas Gibson came to his death ... in the manner as testified to by the examining physician, Dr. M. Bonner

John B. Garrison February 21, 1894 in Clinton, Laurens Co, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said John Garrison died from mitral Insufficiency.

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 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

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

James Lee April 7, 1834 at Amos Lee's, Union County, SC

do say upon there oaths that the sd James Lee . . .on the plantation of William Hay[?] . . .Dyed By the Visitation of god in a natural way

Robert Jordan December 3, 1900 at Mount Croghan, Chesterfield County, SC

from the verdict of witness I do note deem it necsary to hold an inquest but from such witnesses find that the Sed Robrt Jordan came to his ath from natural causes Decmbr 3 1900

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

Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, they believe the said slave Rhoda came to her death by some invisible and unknown cause or causes; perhaps a disease of the heart

Mary Whitman at R.E. Martin's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, the said Mary Whitman came to her death from Heart Disease on the 13 day of June A.D. 1887

Infant of G. R. C. Baskins Infant of G. R. C. Baskins February 18, 1905 at E. W. Gulledge's place, Chesterfield County, SC

their oath say that the said William H. Baskin infant Died . . . from Natural Causes.

James Leppard February 13, 1893 at F. M. Leppards, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say. . .the deceased came to his death by Rheumation of the heart

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

Daniel W. Willis September 27, 1887 at the residence of the deceased Daniel Willis, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the [said] Daniel Willis came to his death of heart disease

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.

Anna Braboy January 13, 1894 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Anna Braboy came to her death from natural causes

Alexander Black November 14, 1863 at the house of A. W. Black, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said decd came to his death . . . by the act of God unknown to them

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

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

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

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