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Charlotte Agnes Cox

American Red Cross photo, Library of Congress

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial


Charlotte Agnes Cox

"The [year] 1918 has gone: a year momentous as the termination of the most cruel war in the annals of the human race; a year which marked, the end at least for a time, of man's destruction of man; unfortunately a year in which developed a most fatal infectious disease causing the death of hundreds of thousands of human beings. Medical science for four and one-half years devoted itself to putting men on the firing line and keeping them there. Now it must turn with its whole might to combating the greatest enemy of all: infectious disease. . . ."

Journal of the American Medical Association (28 December 1918)

Charlotte Agnes Cox (sometimes called Lottie) was born in Martinsburg, Berkeley County, West Virginia, on January 18, 1876, to Margaret Matilda Murray Cox (sometimes called Tillie) and James Edward Cox.

The 1880 Federal Census indicates that the family was living in Martinsburg with children Anna, Loretta, and Bernard. Mr. Cox was a railroad conductor. The 1900 census taker recorded the family still living in Martinsburg. Tillie was listed as the head of the household. With her were Lottie, Bernard, Gregory, and Eulalia (sometimes called Eula), who also became a nurse. Mrs. Cox was a dressmaker; Lottie was working in a knitting mill. Bernard was a lumber dealer. Gregory was a telegrapher. Eulalia was at school. Mr. Cox was no longer with the family. He passed away in 1886, but a death certificate was not located, and the circumstances are not known. Loretta Cox was also no longer with the family. She passed away in 1885 due to fever.

The details of Charlotte Cox's education were not found, such as the year she left home, settled in Baltimore, and attended the University of Maryland's School of Nursing. Her military records and newspaper accounts indicate that these events occurred. It appears that many of the family moved to Baltimore after Mr. Cox's death, perhaps due to family connections and familiarity since Maryland was Mrs. Cox's state of birth. It was in Baltimore that Charlotte Cox would begin her career as a nurse.

The University of Maryland School of Nursing opened in 1889, then known as the Faculty of Physics' Training School for Nurses. At the time, there were 107 training schools for nurses. By 1900, there were 549. Nursing started becoming a profession in the same time period, abetted in no small part to Florence Nightingale's vision and advocacy. Curricula were developed, varying degrees of training and degree programs were incorporated, and eventually nurse registration was attained. Nurses went from being private at-home caregivers, frequently with other duties, such as housekeeping, food preparation, and cleaning to able and professional assistants to doctors and surgeons. They became independent medical caregivers and diagnosticians, and their contributions in emergencies and wartime cannot be well estimated. By the time World War I increased the demand, nurses within the American Red Cross could be incorporated into the Army. While some nurses entered the Army Nursing Corps directly, many were brought into the Army through the American Red Cross role.

Charlotte Cox�s name appeared in the Baltimore Sun as early as 1912, noting that she was recuperating in the hospital after an illness. In 1913, Charlotte Cox was noted as a nurse, responding to the scene of a great calamity, the superstorm calamity of 1913, which flooded America from the Midwest to the East, and eventually the South. The storm brought heavy rains from across a wide region during only three days in March. The severe storm began on March 23, 1913, with tornados and rain from Nebraska through Indiana. Heavy rain came next, hitting Ohio hard with flooding. Levees broke along the Ohio River and submerged Fort Wayne, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Indianapolis. Particularly hard hit was Dayton, Ohio. The hardship and disaster experienced by these areas were truly devastating. Since it was March, the weather was not warm and the flooding and sudden evacuations left some residents exposed to hypothermia. Other hazards included severed gas lines and resultant fires, debris, entrapment, and hunger, aside from the very real threat of drowning. The impacts continued through May, as the waters collected in rivers and began flooding the areas along their routes in the south, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. There were hundreds of deaths. (Christopher Klein, "The Superstorm That Flooded America,", 25 March 2013, updated 22 August 2018, accessed 11 May 2020,

Maryland responded with a relief drive. The Baltimore Sun described the effort, along with the impacts of flooding in a March 29, 1918, edition, "Fund Now $40,000: Baltimore Responds with Alacrity to Cry from the West." The Red Cross committee of the Maryland State Society of Graduate Nurses gathered its nurses for a mission of mercy to deliver supplies and to take care of the sick and injured. Charlotte Cox was listed among the nurses who left by train at Union Square (Baltimore). At the time, the paper noted, the nurses knew not when they'd return and couldn't be sure where they were going, but were eager to go.

On March 30, 1918, the Baltimore Sun carried the story that the Maryland Base Unit was set to mobilize due to the World War. ("Base Unit Gets Orders, That of University Hospital Seeks $10,000 Emergency Fund, Will Go to France Soon.") The article extensively lists the names of those in the unit, including staff surgeons, medical staff, laboratory staff, dental surgeons, nurses, and enlisted men. Charlotte Cox is listed among the many nurses. The article explains that the unit is "Maryland's own" and almost entirely made of Marylanders and further "chiefly Baltimoreans." While many of the enlistees were already deployed to camps, the director of the unit received orders for the immediate mobilization of the unit and called for entire unit to report to Camp Meade from which it would mobilize. Additionally, Charlotte Cox is mentioned in the military history section of the University of Maryland School of Nursing's website:

In April 1918, 30 School of Nursing graduates were mobilized through the American Red Cross to form U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 42. The unit, numbering 100 nurses, 35 officers, and 200 enlisted men, opened its hospital in Bazoilles-Sur-Meuse, France, in July 1918, to receive wounded soldiers and send surgical teams to the front during military drives. Over the next 10 months before demobilization, the hospital treated 8,000 patients. ("World War I: Army Hospital Formed," accessed 3 May 2020,

Nurse Charlotte Cox was among them. According to the records preserved under Maryland Military Men 1917-1918, Nurse Cox and the Army Nursing Corps Records, she was a nurse at the Base Hospital in Camp Greene, North Carolina. She was listed among the nurses of Base Hospital No. 42 on the army transport. Nurse Cox was listed as a passenger on the Baltic on July 14, 1918. She listed her sister Eulalia as her emergency contact. She joined the military in Maryland.

On October 9, 1918, the Baltimore Sun announced that "Miss Eulalia Cox, of the Baltimore Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, on Franklin Street, received a cablegram yesterday notifying her of the death in France of her sister, Miss Charlotte A. Cox. Miss Cox was assistant superintendent of the Maryland University Base Hospital unit and went overseas with that organization some months ago. The cablegram gave no details of her death." ("Nurse Dies in France: Miss Charlotte A. Cox Was Superintendent of Hospital Unit.")
American Red Cross photo, Library of Congress

American Red Cross photo, Library of Congress

According to the Army Nursing Corps Records, Nurse Charlotte Cox died of dysentery. Disease treatment and the World War in 1918 are often discussed in context with the pandemic influenza that killed millions from 1918 through 1919. However, pandemic influenza was only one disease that stalked the army camps, battleground trenches, and civilian populations. During World War I, diseases that affected the troops, causing hospitalizations and death, included influenza, pneumonia, tuberculosis, chickenpox, measles, diphtheria, typhoid fever, malaria, tuberculosis, venereal diseases, and dysentery. Many of the diseases were held in check during World War I through medical screening and barring anyone ill. Dysentery was largely controlled by hygiene and sanitary measures, but there were 6200 cases among the American Expeditionary Forces resulting in 31 deaths. It's not clear whether nurses were counted among the cases. ("Diseases in World War I: Infectious Diseases," The United States World War One Centennial Commission, accessed 10 May 2020,

Marker for Charlotte A. Cox in Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery. <i>Find A Grave</i> photo courtesy Marijke Taffein

Marker for Charlotte A. Cox in Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery. Find A Grave photo courtesy Marijke Taffein

Nurse Charlotte Cox was buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in Lorraine, France. Her grave marker indicates that she died on September 28, 1918. The death notices and obituaries published in her honor were effusive in praise for her sacrifice as well as her personal attributes as a sister, daughter, and member of the nursing community. An article in the Martinsburg Journal stated that "Miss Cox was a very attractive and highly cultured young woman, and especially capable trained nurse and accomplished in bany [sic] other ways. She was every [sic] smiling, a veritable angel to the suffering ones often in her charge and a devoted daughter and sister," while noting the distress of her family and legion friends. ("Supreme Sacrifice, Town Girl, Trained Nurse, Dies in France," 9 October 1918.)

Maryland's records indicate that she'd been awarded the Order of St. Sava decoration, a recognition of meritorious achievements in the areas of arts and sciences, of service to the Serbian Orthodox Church or for social and relief work. It was awarded by the Kingdom of Serbia to nationals and foreigners and for military or civilian acts. There were no further notes on Charlotte Cox's service which explains this recognition, but it could have been either for her nursing service during the war or for the relief work in Ohio. ("Order of St. Sava," The Medal Collector [official publication of the Order and Medals Society in America], February 1969, accessed 11 May 2020, There was a Serbian community of immigrants and second-generation Serbians in Ohio. ("Serbian Ohioans," Ohio History Central, accessed 11 May 2020,

Martinsburg remembered Charlotte Cox as one of its own in the July 4, 1919, program, "Memorial Program July Fourth 1919 Home Coming Celebration: Martinsburg, Berkeley County, West Virginia," in which Charlotte Cox is listed in memoriam. Researchers of West Virginia and Cox family history may also note that Nurse Cox is listed as a Maryland veteran in World War I era listings likely due to her residency at the time she entered service and her service with a Baltimore hospital base.

Article prepared by Cynthia Mullens
July 2020


Charlotte Agnes Cox

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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