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
Jack Taylor April 11, 1892 at the house of Hal[?] Miles, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Jack Taylor. . .came to his death by the act of God. He having died from old age 84 years and having hearty failure bleeding Hemorage of the lungs and asthma

Chanya slave December 31, 1849 at A.G.W. Gordon's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she came to her death by infirmity and old age

Edward William Davis September 29, 1870 at Ridgeway, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Edward William Davis. "came to his death by a Pulmonary Congestion with Hemorrhage caused from heart disease

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.

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

Andrew Boney July 26, 1879 at Ridgeway, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that from the Certificate of two Physicians who reached him in his dying moment that he come to his death from Heart disease[.]

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

James Blackie August 17, 1836 in the house of Ezekiel Hoy, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that they believe James Blackie died on the 16th of August & and that his death was caused by a 'severe acute disease aggravated & hurried to a fatal termination by previous organic affection of all the viscera of the systems

W. G. Rivers June 15, 1888 at F. W. Rivers, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said W J Rivers came to his death by som natural caus or causes to the jury unknown

Jackson Cartlidge October 21, 1874 at or near the Brewers gold mine, near the waters of Big Lynches Creek, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say, That it appears that the deceased Jackson Cartlidge came to his death by mischance or accident, or visitation of God.

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

Amanda Ellerbe July 31, 1881 at the residence of John Ellerbe, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Amanda Ellerbe came to her death by natural causes or the visitation of God

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

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

Catharine Rodgers child September 30, 1879 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . . the deceased came to her death from congestion of the Lungs

Dilsey Seigler September 20, 1869 at Miles Mills, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the said Dilsey came to her death by an act of Providence after long affliction

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

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

Milledge Stuard October 8, 1881 at Mount [??] Yard, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oths do say the said Milledge Stuard Came to his death from some unknown Cause to us but Suppose from heart Disease

Humphrey Wilson August 26, 1882 at the residence of Humphrey Wilsons, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say . . . he died from a visitation of the Almighty God

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

Loucinda Alexander December 7, 1883 at the house of Camel Alexander, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death by the acts of Providence unknown to us

John Gregory September 3, 1862 at John Gregory, Union County, SC

do say that the Decd Came to his death by the hand of God

Martha Stevenson Fairfield County, SC

from what I can see on the other children it died from influenza

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant March 27, 1895 at Daniel McGarland's place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: The said infant child was the Child of Caroline Laurean but from being buried such a length of time was in such a state of decomposition, it was impossible from autopsy to find out cause of death, Therefore we find that it came to its death from some cause unknown to it there

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.

Ben Harris July 8, 1910 at McBee, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that he came to his death form natural causes

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

Ely Edwards at Ridgeway, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that we the jurors after viewing the body of Ely Edwards & hearing the testimony in the [?] Believe that his death was the result of natural causes on the night of Dec 14th 1893 about Eleven oclock[.]

J. W. Hunnicutt December 8, 1896 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Betsy Pilgram July 2, 1882 at Woodruff, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased ... came to her death by disease of the heart

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

Daniel September 17, 1816 at Reuben Meadows, Laurens County, SC

do Say upon their oaths, that he came to his death by the visitation of God then and there to wit Reuben Meadows field aforesaid he died aforesaid and not otherwise. . .

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

Eddie Watson Infant April 25, 1892 at Bob Stevens, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the Said Eddie Watson came to his death from Natural Causes

Peter C. Oclan January 7, 1850 at C. Burch's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the sd. P.C. Oclan came to his death by the act of God

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

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

Jacob Briges September 18, 1832 at the house of Jacob Briges, Spartanburg County, SC

do say upon their oaths that it was the visitation of God

Nancey Means December 22, 1879 at D.T. Gibson's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the Said Nancey Means came to her death by natural causes unknown to the Jury.

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

Henry Rush June 22, 1875 Spartanburg County, SC

return our verdict that the deceased, Henry Rush, died from an attack of epilepsy

Hardy January 17, 1848 at the house of I.B. McCall, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oath, do say that the said negro man came to his death by a dispensation of Providence

Daniel Brown October 8, 1881 at the plantation of Willis Watkins, Anderson County, SC

do say that the said Daniel Brown died. . . in the cotton field on the plantation of Willis Watkins by no act of violence or foul means but by heart disease.

Christopher Norral January 5, 1815 at the Dweling house of John Norals, Union County, SC

say on their oaths that the Said Christopher Norral Came to his Death By the act of God

Elizabeth Leightner July 1, 1875 at Col. Fenlis[?] Plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say: that Eizabeth Leightner came to her death from some cause unknown to the Jurors.

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

John Campbell September 26, 1883 at Chesterfield C. H., Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the said John Campbell came to his death by some natural caus or causes unknown to the jurors

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

Nancy Therrel February 19, 1876 at Mr. John Therrels, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That the said Nacy Therel came to her death by some natural caus unknown to the jury

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

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

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