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 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
negro child a slave negro child a slave January 27, 1835 on the plantation of T Hooker, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the Sd child . . .died by the visitation of god in a natural way

Mary May April 14, 1854 at J. W. May's, Anderson County, SC

believe came to her death by the hand of Providence.

Nancy Davis April 22, 1883 at plantaion of Seaborn Parks, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Nancy Davis the deceased came to her death from disease of the Heart.

Joe Elam February 16, 1882 at Nicholson premises, Edgefield County, SC

upon there Oaths do say that Joe Elam Came to his death from Natural Causes

James Hammons March 25, 1884 at Andrew Bristers, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said James Hammons came to his death by some natural caus or causes unknown to the jurors

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

Phillis August 18, 1831 at the house of Charles P. Stone, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that, according to all the testimony adduced to them, they are inclined to believe, that on the 17th instant, the said Phillis being often last spring, complaining of Hysterical, vapours she was taken with a Hysteric Attack which caused her death

Moriah Scott infant child September 26, 1875 at Ness[?] Scott's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths, do say that Moriah L. Scott infant child . . .came to her death from cold

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

Maria Powell at the Paggitt place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to her death at her residence the 4 day of May A D 1891 from heart failure.

Dinah Woman Slave May 22, 1849 at Allen Griffith, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Dinah came to her death by miscarriage and inflamation of the womb at the plantation of Master Michael Long

Caroline Timons January 10, 1901 at Mount Croghan, Chesterfield County, SC

I have this day held a preliminary examination ovr the dad body of Caroline Timons and from the evidence of witness I do not deam It necary to hold an inqest but form such witness find that the Sed Caroline Timons came to her dath from none other than natural Causes this The 10 day of January 1901

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

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

infant January 23, 1873 at residence of M. A. Snipes, Anderson County, SC

do say that it came to its death by the act of God

Lou Terry November 25, 1884 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that [she] came to her death from natural causes

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.

Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt, Edgefield County, SC

we find that the decesed Came to her death. . .from the [?] of age and Probealy as Stated by the Dr from Heart Failure

R. H. Crawford January 26, 1894 at Elisha Boans, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the deceased R.H. Crawford came to his death from some natural cause or causes unknown to me

Elizabeth Cook May 27, 1881 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . . the said Elizabeth came to her death from heart disease

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.

Major negro man the property of no person July 29, 1845 at the plantation of Miss M. J. Rogers, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the above named Major came to his death by the act of God,

Infant of C. P. Rushing Infant of C. P. Rushing December 19, 1894 at C. P. Rushing's Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said child came to its death from some natural cause or causes

Manuel Coleman at Manuel Coleman's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say came to his death by congestion of the Stomach from drinking water.

Kizziah[?] slave, servant March 11, 1860 at the residence of Mr M Lanham, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that the said Kisziah came to her death. . .from the Visitation of God in a natural way

L. M. Stroud August 18, 1909 at Tom Strouds, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say: that the said Mrs. P. M. Stroud came to her death from natural causes

James Cook June 3, 1845 in the old field near the still house of James Cook, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the said James Cook came to his death by the visitation of God

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

James Robinson May 20, 1883 n.a., Anderson County, SC

came to his death by the act of God in the form of Apoplexy

M. H. Miller April 10, 1889 at W. T. H. Miller's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon there oaths do say that from the evidence given Martha Miller died with heart disease

Charmes October 7, 1865 at Levison Fowlers, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the Freedman Charmes came to his death by the act of God

infant male child infant male child January 3, 1894 in Edgefield County, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that. . .the said infant came to his death, by heart failure produced from congestion of the lungs

Mary Hillian October 30, 1896 at R.E. River's place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: the said May Hillian came to her death from accidental Hemmorage of the lungs

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

Dorisa Byrd at Martin Byrd's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Dorisa Byrd came to her death from congestion of the lungs at on the plantation of Oliver Sloan[.]

Ellison Blakney October 4, 1896 at Hick's Mine Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Ellison Blakney came to his death from heart trouble

Lydia Parish December 6, 1835 at the house of Mrs. L. Parrish on Rutledge Street in the town of Camden, Kershaw County, SC

find no reason to suppose the deceased came to her death otherwise than by the act of God or in the course of nature from diesease the particular character of which is unknown to us

Sallie Walker at M.J. Steel's[?] place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say tha the deceased Sallie Walker came to her death from heart diseas on the Plantation of Mrs M.J. Slide[.]

negro child negro child July 13, 1835 at the house or on the plantation of Charles Humphries, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that The said child . . .died by the visitation of God in a natural way

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

Luvenia Elmore March 15, 1883 at J A Fergusons place, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the cause of her death on the 14th day of March AD. 1883 on J A Fergusons place in Laurens County from Congestion.

B. C. Bryan March 16, 1884 at B C Bryan Residence, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say. . .that the said B C Bryan Come to his death. . .from disease of the Heart

Mary Adams September 23, 1885 at Mary Adams, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the Said Mary Adams came to her death by Sum natural caus or causes unknow to the jurys

Mariah Pincy July 10, 1881 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that said Mariah Princey ... came to her death from heart disease

Ann Eliza Loid June 29, 1891 at William Loid's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths Do say that Said Lizar Loid came to her Death from Heart Disease By falling on the floor on the 28th June 1891

May March 20, 1832 at the plantation of Doctor William Bratton on Wateree Creek, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths, that according to the evidence adduced to them, they believe that on the 19th instant in a field where the said May was breaking Cotton Halks, he was taken with an appoplectic fit and expired in an instant

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

negro child negro child January 16, 1854 at [???], Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths . . .that it came to its death by the visitation of God

Ephram Ashford at [?], Fairfield County, SC

upon their Oaths do say that the deceased came to his death at his home from heart failure

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.

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