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
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

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

Harry slave December 17, 1855 at Jesse Gray's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that he came to it by manner and means to them unknown, but believe it was by the visitation of God

Nathan Hawkins August 16, 1832 at House of Nathan Hawkins, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the Sd Nathan Hawkins . . .died by the visitation of God in a natural way

Matt Loyd February 24, 1891 at Mr. Carmal cemetary near the Old Wills, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oath do say that the said Matt Loyd died from Dropsy[?] of the heart

Lillie C. McManus February 10, 1889 at T. M. McManus's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, by the Hand of God, and from causes unknown to the parents and to the jury

Thomas J. Fuller October 5, 1894 at T.J. Fuller's, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said T.J. Fuller came to his 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

Janice Parsons October 8, 1899 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Fayet Walter January 20, 1877 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upont their oaths do say that the dec'd Fayet Walter came to his death from a disease known as congestion of the lungs caused from severe cold

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

Nesbitt Rice April 21, 1886 at Poplar Springs, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Nesbitt Rice came to his death by hand [of] god

Edward slave, boy October 22, 1857 at the residence of Wm Miller, Edgefield County, SC

came to his death by the act of Providence

William Ganey February 22, 1889 at E. H. Casons, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the Said William Ganey came to his death form some natural cause or causes to the jurors unknown

Patsy Johnston at Bell plantation, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oath do say that the aforesaid Patsy Johnston came to her death from scrofula.

D. L. Campbell October 21, 1894 at the residence of D. L. Campbell, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that D L Campbell deceased come to his death from hart trouble

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

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

Nance infant child April 24, 1832 at the house of Benjamin Landrum, Union County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the sd infant . . .died by the visitation of God in a natural way

infant infant May 5, 1893 at F. L. Foys, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say we find that deceased Infant. . .came to its death from natural causes

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.

Rachel Dullivan January 30, 1890 at Rachel Dullivan Residence, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Rachel Dullivan came to her death from natural cause (Heart disease).

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

Nancy Johnson June 11, 1906 at Whitfield Johnson, Chesterfield County, SC

AND so the said Jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say that the aforesaid Nancy Johnson came to her death from natural causes

Infant of Diliar Harrell Infant of Diliar Harrell September 15, 1905 at Mr. Douglass's Mill, Chesterfield County, SC

so the said Jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say that the aforesaid child came to death by causes unknown to them.

Margret Branan December 15, 1889 at or on Mrs. Alice Taylor's place, Spartanburg County, SC

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

Peyton Bird colored September 29, 1869 at Edgefield CH, Edgefield County, SC

do say as follows: That we the Jurors find that the deceased Peyton Bird came to his death by visitation of God from rupture of a blood vessel called Aorta

Charley Turner February 8, 1922 at J W Patsobe, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: That Charley Turner came to his death from natural cause

Martha Stevenson at Daniel Stevenson's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that Martha Stevenson came to her death from natural causes probly influenza[.]

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

William Autry March 16, 1896 at E. W. Gulledge's place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said Wm Autry came to his death from natural causes

George slave June 24, 1857 at W.B. family[?] plantation, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said George came to his death by the [?] of Almighty God.

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

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

J. B. Whittle November 28, 1894 at Mrs Whittles, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said J.B. Whittle came to his death from natural cause

Clarence Rodgers at the [?] Quarter[?], Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased Clarence Rodgers, came to his death from congestion of the lungs at the Residence of Hanibal Willis[.]

Drusilla Philips June 18, 1840 at Abram Philips, Laurens County, SC

do Say upon their oaths that; the said Drusilla Philips on the 17th day of June in the year one thousand Eight Hundred and forty one at Abram Philips her husbands own House, in the distrct afore said was found dead that she had no Marks of violence upon her and died by the visitation of God in a natural way and not otherwise.

Elijah M. Cooper August 25, 1877 at the residence of Elijah M. Cooper, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said E.M. Cooper came to his death. . .while engaged at work on his fieds near his residence from some cause which the jury believes to have been disease of the heart

E. A. Teal September 1, 1883 near and on the north side of the Public Road leading from Chesterfield C. H. to Abrahams Creek and the middle prong of said Creek, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said E.A. Teal, came to her death from natural causes there neing no marks of violence upon her body

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

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

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

Julia Banks September 4, 1891 at Mr Banks Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . .Mrs Julia Banks . . .Supposed to have died from heart decise

Jonathan June 5, 1826 at the plantation of Wm Ader[?], Fairfield County, SC

do say upon our oaths that our [?] from the evidence Jonathan came to his death by the Visitation of God

Freeman Cook March 18, 1896 at John Cook's, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Freeman Cook came to his death from natural causes.

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

Mary Elizabeth Rallings February 6, 1900 at Sanford Rallings', Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say That Mary Elizabeth Rallings came to her death by mischance or natural causes

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

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

Unknown Infant Unknown Infant February 23, 1883 at Chesterfield C. H., Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say That the said Infant Child came to his death from som cause or causes unknown to the Jurors and that there was no foul play

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

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

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

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

Harry Horton October 8, 1889 at Harry Hortons, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say That the aforesaid Harry Horton came to his death by the act of God or natural causes

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