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 351 - 400 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
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

John M. Bonds December 16, 1850 at Isom R. Bond's, Anderson County, SC

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.

Authur Lee Johnson October 1, 1904 at the place of Mary Cassidy, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Manerva Proctor September 19, 1876 at Thomas Anderson's place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say: That Manerva Proctor came to her death by disease of the heart.

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.

Venus female slave November 9, 1848 at John Harrises, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that . . .the disceased was a person advanced in life, and had at time been complaining of a Smothering Sensation at night and . . .Came to her death by a visitation of god

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

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

M. M. Oneall December 1, 1870 at the residence of Elias E. Roberts, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Mrs. M.M. Oneall came to her death from disease of the heart

Alexander T. Johnson December 2, 1895 at the residence of M.J. Johnson, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that Alexander T Johnson deceast came to his death from or with Bodily Deyses

Waterman Fleming August 3, 1925 at Jule Fleming's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: by natural 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.

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

Reubin Weaver December 28, 1895 at Elijah Boatwrights Plantation, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say, that Reubin Weaver aforesaid came to his death from heart failure

James Harmon March 4, 1841 near[?] Nichara[?] Gordon's, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they cannot find no marks of Violence upon him and he died by the visitation of god in a natural way and not otherwise

Jenny slave April 28, 1836 Kershaw County, SC

do on their oath say that they believe she died of an apoplectic fit, the visitation of God

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

do say that. . .said child was dead born

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

Anarky Thompson at Joe Freshleys, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from diseas of the heart called osfication of the valve of the heart, on the plantation of Joe Freshley, in Fairfield County SoC. The 1st of May 1884.

Clarisa Epps July 20, 1868 at Laurens C.H., Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the afore said Claricy Epps came to her death by the visitation of God.

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

Silvy Nix January 1, 1891 Edgefield County, SC

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

Charles Young July 16, 1885 at Anderson's Mills, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Charles Young came to his death from Apoplexy near Anderson's Mills

Infant of Pearl Oliver Infant of Pearl Oliver December 26, 1894 at D. A. Redfearn's Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said Infant child came to its death from some natural cause unknown to them

Alex White September 26, 1899 at M. C. Rays SC, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thare oath do Say that Alx White deceast came to his death By some unknown causes

Unknown March 26, 1875 at the residence of Mr. John Murpheys, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the death of the Child was the Act 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.

Loverberry B. Musgrove October 9, 1866 at the residence of Ms. James, Widow, near the Court House, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Loveberry B. Musgrove, at the residence of Mrs. James, Widow, . . .did die by visitation of Almight God

Thomas C. Reaves May 25, 1899 Kershaw County, SC
Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, they believe the said slave Rhoda came to her death by some invisible and unknown cause or causes; perhaps a disease of the heart

John Seawright October 22, 1881 on the public road leading from Craytonville to Anderson Court House, Anderson County, SC

do say the said came to dis death from disease of the heart. . .the deceased came to his death by some providence of God.

Catherine Smith September 4, 1893 at D. A. Smith's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Catherine Smith came to her death from some Providential cause unknown to the Jury

Amy Crawford February 2, 1890 at Neal Crawford, Chesterfield County, SC

upon thire oaths do say that he Said Aimie Crawford came to her death by some cause or causes to this jury unknown

Ephram Ashford at [?], Fairfield County, SC

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

James Leppard February 13, 1893 at F. M. Leppards, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say. . .the deceased came to his death by Rheumation of the heart

Nancy Montjoy October 13, 1889 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that she the said Nancy Montjoy came to her death from natural causes, probably disease of the heart

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

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

Frances Pagett April 15, 1853 at William Pagett's, Anderson County, SC

do say that the deceased came to her death by the act of God?

James Knight September 9, 1905 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

I have examined the body of James Knight Decease and I find . . . [the] cause to his Death from natural causes.

Thomas R. Bell December 23, 1876 at the late residence of Thos R. Bell, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say after hearing the testimony for the state, that Tho's R. Bell's death was caused by disease of the heart

Jerry July 11, 1811 at the plantation of James Glen, Laurens County, SC

do say upon their oathes, that they are of opinion that the said Negro boy died a Natural Death

Jane Wisher September 30, 1848 at the residence of Mrs. Jane Wisher, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say from the widow of Elisabeth Wisher that the deceased was an oald person and had for some years past been afflicted with what had been cauled palpitation of the heart and [?] and was complaining . . .came to her death by a visitation of god

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

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

infant child. Male. infant child. Male. January 25, 1874 at Solomon Scott's, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that said child was born on the twenty second inst and was dead

Isabelle Huggins February 5, 1896 at Jm S. Haggan place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Deceased Isabelle Huggins came to her death from Heart failure

Cintha Boon April 10, 1926 [Stein?] Pin Township, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Died of Heart failure

Jane Owens at Ms. Helen Smith's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say She died from a paroxism of asthma

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

Theatus or Theater Williams August 21, 1926 at Mt. Croghan, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Theates Williams came to his Death from Hart Farlery

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