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 Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
Joshua Clark January 26, 1885 on a rode leading from B. B. Martin's to John Champions, Spartanburg County, SC heart disease

upon their oaths do say that said deceased came to his death by an organic disease of the Heart

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

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

Hezehiah Gulledge January 14, 1889 at Clifton, Spartanburg County, SC heart disease
M. H. Miller April 10, 1889 at W. T. H. Miller's, Spartanburg County, SC heart disease

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

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.

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

Amanda Lester December 13, 1884 near Pelham, Spartanburg County, SC heart disease

upon their oaths do say Amanda Lester came to her death from heart disease

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

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

Henry Clarkson May 10, 1871 at Antiark Church, Kershaw County, SC heart disease

upon their oaths do say ... that the aforesaid Henry Clarkson ... came to his death disease of the heart

Margret Branan December 15, 1889 at or on Mrs. Alice Taylor's place, Spartanburg County, SC heart failure or affliction of the brain

upon their oaths do say that Margret Branan died ... of heart failure or affliction of the brain

Laban Johnson May 15, 1889 at Clifton, Spartanburg County, SC heart trouble

do say that the said Laban Johnson came to his death from heart troubles brought on by natural causes

Martha M. Kerr March 10, 1881 at the house of Edward L. Kerr, Spartanburg County, SC hemorrhage

upon their oaths do say that the said Martha M. Kerr came to her death by the act of God: hemorage of the lungs

Maria Seawright grandma January 11, 1882 at the farm of A. W. McDavids, Greenville County, SC illness

upon their oaths do say that the said Maria Seawright came to her death from a natural cause by an act of Providence

Caswell Waldrop April 18, 1882 at the residence of Caswell Waldrop, Greenville County, SC illness

upon their oaths do say that … the said Caswell Waldrop … came to his death from the effect of an epileptic fit.

Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm, Edgefield County, SC illness

upon their oaths do say: That the child Came to its death from causes unknown

Lawrence Lenhardt July 5, 1882 at Greenville CH, Greenville County, SC illness

upon their oaths do say that … came to his death from strangulation of the hernia[?] of long duration

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.

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

Emmar McDonald daughter November 27, 1881 at William McDonald's, Greenville County, SC illness

upon their oaths do say that the sd Emma [?] McDonald came to her death by asphyxia of the brain, or some unknown cause

Eva Lyons February 9, 1880 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC illness

upon their oaths do say that … the Dec'd came to her death from Laranges[?] Tracheitis or inflamation of the wind pipe.

Henry Jennings September 14, 1891 at the residense of diceased, Edgefield County, SC illness

upon the oaths of the Jury aforesaid do say that the said Henry Jennings came to his death from Heart Disease

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

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

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

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

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

negro child negro child October 11, 1857 at T. C. Lesters, Greenville County, SC illness

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death by strangling or choking with phlegm

Caroline Batson freed woman November 21, 1866 at Reedy River Church, Greenville County, SC illness

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death by exposing herself while sick with fever

infant child infant child February 28, 1877 at Greenville CH, Greenville County, SC illness

upon their oaths do say that the said infant child of Ella Mitchell came to his death caused by congestion of the liver stomach & bowels

Jacob Belue July 31, 1882 at Jacob Belues, Greenville County, SC illness

upon their oaths do say that the said Jacob Belue came to his death from congestion of the lungs

Alexander P. Kennard February 16, 1847 in the District, Edgefield County, SC illness/mental illness

do say upon their Oaths, that they do believe that he died of Cramp of the Stomach or in an Appoplectic fit

Emma Alexander July 2, 1885 Spartanburg County, SC lung disease

upon their oaths say that from the evidence before them that the said Emma Alexander died from congestion of the lungs

Emma Duval September 9, 1878 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC mental illness

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

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

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.

Henry Shaw April 14, 1899 at the place of R. W. Humphries, Kershaw County, SC pneumonia
Lizzie Greeg July 4, 1884 at Capt Taliar[?] Hearin[?], Edgefield County, SC possible alcohol

upon there oaths aforesaid do say that the aforesaid Lizzie Greeg Came to her death from natural Causes

Morriss unknown free man of color January 7, 1858 at Grief Tater's residence, Anderson County, SC possible heart attack

do say the said that Morris (a free man of color)…more than probably came to his death by dropsy of the heart

Ben Shubrick col December 24, 1869 at Negro heade Lane, Edgefield County, SC possible mental illness

upon their oaths do say That they find that the said Ben Shubrick col came to his death by the act of Providence

infant January 13, 1868 at Anderson Court House, Anderson County, SC premature birth

do say that the infant was a premature birth and born dead

D. Searey November 17, 1882 near Martinsville, Spartanburg County, SC seizure

upon their oaths do say that ... the said D. Seary died from Epileptic fit or other causes to which mortal man is heir

Israel slave November 3, 1845 on the plantation of David Gentry, Anderson County, SC seizure

do say that the said Israel came to his death by mischance, and not from any injury inflicted by the hand of another, but by the act of God.

Leanora M. Cannon February 25, 1879 Spartanburg County, SC spitting up blood

upon their oaths do say that ... the said Leonora M. Cannon died from the rupture of a blood vessel which caused a rush of blood into the lungs and instant death ensued

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

infant November 27, 1870 at William Stuart's residence, Anderson County, SC stillbirth

do say that…said child was dead born

infant March 30, 1874 at Silas Kay's , Anderson County, SC stillborn

do say that the said child came to its death by injurys [sic]…by violence or otherwise unknown to us.

Sallie McDowell August 12, 1882 Spartanburg County, SC stomach

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

Pompy Robinson November 1, 1898 at Norris Place, Edgefield County, SC suffocation

upon their oaths, do say: that Pompy Robinson came to his death from throat trouble

John M. Bonds December 16, 1850 at Isom R. Bond's, Anderson County, SC throat disease caused inflation of larynx

do say having understood that the said John M. Bonds died very suddenly on the mornign of the 15th of this Instant while going as a boat hand on Savannah River…we the jury report that we fully concur in the opinion of the said doctors as reported by them to the coroner...that is to say that John M. Bonds came to his death by a diseased action in the Larynx producing or giving rise to suffocation.

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

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

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

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

Isaac Greer December 29, 1879 at Vernonville, Spartanburg County, SC unknown

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death by cause or causes unknown to them but in their opinion it was an act of God

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