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 251 - 300 of 301
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Method Inquest Finding
Priscilla Clark March 28, 1837 at the house of Jesse Clark, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said Priscilla Clark … died by the visitation of God

Pulaskey slave, boy March 30, 1848 at the plantation of J. F> Hill, Union County, SC disease

upon their oaths do say that we believe the boy died of disease (Influenza) from the history of the Case

Rebeca Eidson May 29, 1861 at the Residence of William Eidson, Edgefield County, SC illness

upon there oaths do say that it is made evident to theme that the said deceased came to here death … from Congestion Pneumonia

Reuben Brewton January 3, 1880 near Switzer's Bridge, Spartanburg County, SC disease

upon their oaths do say that the said Reuben Brewton came to his death ... from disease unknown to them inflicted byt the hand of God

Reuben Johnson March 11, 1881 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths ... do say that the said Reuben Johnson ... came to his death from natural causes

Reubin Weaver at Elijah Boatwrights Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

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

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

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

Richard Stevens February 21, 1898 at Johnston S.C., Edgefield County, SC

upon their Oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Dick Stevens died … from visitation of God

Robert W. Kincade December 27, 1845 at the house of Baley[?] Corley, Edgefield County, SC disease

upon their oaths do say, that the said Robert W Kincde came to his death by a Stroke of Appoplexy in the house of Baley Corby

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

Sallie Busch August 21, 1892 at Lewis Beans plantation, Edgefield County, SC disease

upon their oaths do say That she came to her death from heart failure

Sallie McDowell August 12, 1882 Spartanburg County, SC stomach

upon their oaths do say that ... Sallie McDowell died of indigestion

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

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

Sally Williams July 19, 1880 n.a., Anderson County, SC consumption

find her lungs badly affected and diseased came to her death from consumption & had consumption badly.

Sam negro, slave September 18, 1846 at the residence of Mrs Nancy Delaughter, Edgefield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say … 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

Samuel Kelso December 21, 1817 at the plantation of Sam'l Kelso, Spartanburg County, SC apoplexy

do say upon their oaths that … he came to his death by an act of God being subject to something like a apoplexy for some time previous to his death

Samuel Mitchell April 10, 1837 on the plantation of Robert Glen, Union County, SC

do say upon thear Oaths that the Sd Samul Mitchell … at a Spring … was found dead … and died by the visitation of God in a natural way

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

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

Sarah Bressey September 14, 1857 at [?] Village, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that … she came to her death … by a natural death.

Sarah Martin July 14, 1844 at residence of Mrs. Sarah Martin, Anderson County, SC

do say that the above named Sarah Martin came to her death by the hand of God.

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

Sidney Rhinehart December 26, 1883 at Spartanburg, Spartanburg, S.C., Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that ... Sidney Rhinehart died of Cerebral Apoplexy

Silvy Nix Edgefield County, SC disease

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

Simon C. Wood[?] December 26, 1857 at Wm Calelaziers[?], Edgefield County, SC alcohol/injury

upon their oaths do say, that the said Simon C Nood came to his death by some unknown cause or rather by the visitation of Providence

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

slave slave May 31, 1832 Kershaw County, SC

do unanimously believed that the said negro woman deceased formerly the property of Isaac Mothershed now lying Dead came to her death by an act of God

Sophia Hall March 19, 1859 at or near Samuel Martin's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that no marks of violence could be seen on her body that she the said Sphia came to her death by the hand of God.

Strather Freeman March 2, 1876 at Flat Rock Church, Anderson County, SC heart disease

do say…deceased came to his death by disease of the heart.

T. G. Cooper June 5, 1886 at the late residence of T. G. Cooper, Spartanburg County, SC heart disease

upon their oaths do say that the said T. G. Cooper came to his death in his own house we suppose by heart disease

Tench Henson June 8, 1868 at Josepth Moor's, Greenville County, SC

upon there oaths do say that it was the act of Providence

Tephius[?] Cornwall January 14, 1845 on one of the Public Streets of the Town of Hamburg, Edgefield County, SC

Upon their oaths do say, that the decd Tephius[?] Cornwell came to his death as they believe by the visitation of God

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

Thomas Prince July 31, 1848 at the Joal of Said District, Edgefield County, SC illness

upon their oaths do say that the said Thomas Prince came to his death by the act of God

Thomas Wynn October 31, 1868 at William Bousar's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the dec'd died a natural death in his bed

Tom negro boy February 5, 1853 at the late residence of Col Harling Quarles[?] deceased, Edgefield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say the said negro boy … died in some natural way unknown

twin infants September 15, 1889 at Rosa Foster's, Spartanburg County, SC stillbirth

do say that the twin children were stillborn & that no violence has been practiced

Venus female slave November 9, 1848 at John Harrises, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that … the disceased was a person advanced in life, and had at time been complaining of a Smothering Sensation at night and … Came to her death by a visitation of god

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

W. F. DeBruhl April 20, 1859 at the late residence of W.F. DeBruhl, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Wm. F. Debruhl came to his death by none other than a visition from God

W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oath do Say he come to his Death by Providential occurance or heart failure

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

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

white man white man October 21, 1849 in the woods near Holsonbakers[?] old fields, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say the aforesaid Stranger came to his death from the act of God

William Anderson April 14, 1864 at the plantation of T.[?] S Boles, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that said William Anderson came to his death by some sevear attack of disease … by Mischance or Visitation of God

William Blanton January 14, 1884 at the house of Langdon Blanton, Spartanburg County, SC heart disease

upon their oaths do say that William Blanton came to his death by heart disease

William Cooper September 22, 1882 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC disease

upon their oaths do say that … Wm T. Cooper came to his death from heart disease

William Fisher September 12, 1855 at the home of Sarah Vanderford, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say … that they are of opinion that the Said William Fisher died a natural death by [?] and by the act of God

William H. Lancaster September 19, 1883 at the residence of Jas. Giddes, Spartanburg County, SC heart disease

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the aforesaid William H. Lancaster ... came to his death from disease 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 cuase to us unknown

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