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 251 - 300 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation, Edgefield County, SC

the said Bluford Abney came to his death by natural causes or colic

Silvy Holmes at Ben Glenn's place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that Silvy Homes came to her death at her daughters Residence at the night of 28th of April AD 1887 from Providential Visitation[.]

Barbra Franklin June 6, 1898 near Swift Creek Colored Baptist Church, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said barbra Franklin of the said county and said state on the Evening of the fifth day of June 1898 Did come to her death from natural causes

Peggy slave March 28, 1841 at Mr. Adamson's plantation, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that we find upon examination that [the] negro woman called Peggy Adamson the property of Mrs. Adamson ... came to her death by the visitation of the Divine providence

Joseph Moore Jr. April 19, 1846 at the house of Dr John D. Nicholson, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Joseph Moore Jr came to his death by the rupture of a blood vessel of the lungs

Chasey Futrul May 4, 1888 at Cheraw, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Chasey Futrul came to her death by Som natural caus or causs to the jury unknown and she dide on the 4 day of May 1888

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.

Henry Williams October 13, 1889 at the Plantation of C.C. Garlington, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Henry Williams came to his death by "Natural Causes."

Mary Gillam January 1, 1891 at Mrs Francis Wrights Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the said Mary Gillam came to her death from Rhumatism from the Heart

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

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the aforesaid William H. Lancaster ... came to his death from disease of the heart

Allen Melton January 6, 1893 at the residence of Mr. James Cottege, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do says that it is their belief that Allen Melton came to his death from natural causes - in all probability - form failure of the heart to perform its proper functions

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

Abraham Ison July 17, 1855 at Abraham Ison's House, Union County, SC

upon there Oaths do say . . .that the Deceased came to his death by the act of God

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

Calline Crosby Fairfield County, SC

up pon these oths do say that She came to her death from heart failure[.]

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.

Charley Gainey November 18, 1903 at T.C. Williams', Chesterfield County, SC

the said Charley Gainey diseased came to his death from heart failure

Benjamin Wood May 8, 1829 at the house of Benjamin Wood, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that he the said Benjamin Wood came to his death by visition of God

Aneliza Perdue January 31, 1913 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Aneliza Perdue did come to her death by Natural causes

George Norris November 23, 1876 at Anderson Courthouse, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said George Norris by act of God died (Consumption)

Patsey Blanton May 5, 1886 at L. Blanton's residence, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they consider the said Patsey Blanton came to her death by the providence of God

Answorth Middleton December 3, 1816 at James Boyds, Laurens County, SC

Do say that he the said Answorth Middleton came to his Ende by the hand of god.

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

Henry Leard Bancum November 29, 1894 at W. H. Funderburk's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say That it was an act of providence from natural causes

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

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

Dinah Jackson April 29, 1880 at Joseph Thompson's Plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that Dinah Jackson came to her death from natural causes unknown to the jury.

Abner Nelson December 31, 1849 at the House of abner nelson, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . . the said Abner Nelson died a natural death as we believe from old age an of god

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.

Alice Miller November 16, 1893 in Alice Miller's house, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death from Heart Disease and that no violence of any kind was used by any person.

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

Isaac F. Swinney March 12, 1875 at Chesterfield C. H., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: the under verdict that the deceased Isaac F Swinney came to his death from some natural cause

J. H. Vandike May 20, 1877 at Crawfordville, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they are satisfied that the aforesaid Col. J.H. Vandike came to his death from apoplexy while riding along the road

Betty Gene Mangum December 19, 1934 at Pageland, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

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

Aaron old negro man slave February 23, 1858 in J[?] M Gadbury's[?] plantation, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say. . . that the said negro came to his death in a manner unknown

Sealy Henry July 1, 1873 Laurens County, SC

we the under named jurors do find in accordance with the opinion of Dr. S. S. Knight. By disease most probably epilepsy caused her death.

Mid[?] Griffin February 2, 1895 at the Govelace[?] Place, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the Aforesaid Mid Griffin came to his death by Heart failure

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[.]

James W. Steene August 22, 1898 at the Residence of Deceased James W. Steene, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say...we find that The deceased came to his death from Heart Falure

Henry B. Mathers November 26, 1841 at the house of Benjamin Nettles, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say the believe it was by the visitation of God

George W. Medlock January 1, 1848 at the house of Daniel Abby, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said George W Medlock came to his death from a disease of the heart

Willis Arther Jenkins February 4, 1888 at J. C. Jenkins, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Willis Arther Jenkins came to his death by some natural cause or causes unknown to the jurors and that he dide on the 4 day of Feb 1888

John Brownlee June 7, 1863 at Williamston, Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to his death, not from any violence but by the visitation of God to the best of our knowledge and belief.

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."

Silvy Nix January 1, 1891 Edgefield County, SC

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

Lewis Denham December 6, 1883 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that said Lewis Denham ... in the field near his house died of natural causes

Susan Oliver March 27, 1893 at W. B. Oliver's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said Susan Oliver came to her death by cause or causes unknown to us

John Day January 28, 1878 at the Guard house, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said John Day came to his death from the natural cause to wit[?] congestion of the brain

Hester Mobley June 27, 1868 at David Gladney's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . . that from the testimony the Said Hester Mobley came to her death by the desease, She was Suffering from, The disease of the Heart.

Jim slave October 4, 1858 at Giles Sharps, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Jim came to his death for some cause unknown or the visitation of god

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