Josephine Cox (Grandma) Anderson
County : Eddy
Category : Healthcare
Josephine Cox Anderson was a lifetime artist who stopped painting when she lost her eyesight late in life. However, it was her lifetime vocation as a nurse that earned her the nicknames of “The Angel of the Valley,” “The Angel of the Pecos,” and “The Angel of Mercy.”
Early in life, she and her husband traveled throughout the southwest pursuing mining ventures. He was a contractor, and when he received an invitation by Charles B. Eddy, the founder of Carlsbad—which was called Eddy then—to help lay out his new town, in 1888-1889 they moved to what would become their permanent home. They moved to a place with a lot of bars, very few permanent structures, mud streets, and a tent city by the banks of the Pecos River. They became active in the Grace Episcopal Church and she painted a large canvas to be placed behind the altar that she titled, Mary at the Tomb
. That painting, along with a portrait of her son Frank who died as a child in 1907, has been donated to the Carlsbad Museum and Art Center.
While her husband kept busy designing the town and eventually becoming its mayor, Mrs. Anderson took up her nursing vocation and devoted her life to ministering to the ills and needs of others because, “It is just my part of the Lord’s work: it was what he wanted me to do.”
When the first flu epidemic hit the area before the turn-of-the-century, she was asked to help with the sick in the tent city. She hitched up her buggy and drove there where she found many people dangerously ill with what was then called the “grippe.” Every day during the crises she loaded her buggy with food that she and other town’s women had prepared and took it to the sick. Not only was her presence among the sick dangerous to her health, but also the place itself was dangerous for a lady without escort. Almost everyone carried a gun and none was slow to use it at the slightest provocation. She did not think about danger because, “We were too busy thinking of someone else.”
Her husband, who preceded her in death seventeen years before her, built her a twenty-six-room sanatorium when their own house became overcrowded with patients. During the flu epidemic of 1918 she cared for sixty patients and not one died. With the help of her daughter, she continued to operate the sanatorium for twenty years. Eventually, it became her residence and was the place where she died. After that, it became an apartment house.
In the early days, the town had one doctor. He supplied Mrs. Anderson with medicine and instructions on how it should be administered. Later in life she helped solicit funds for the construction of the Carlsbad hospital and helped supervise its initial operation. “Grandma” became one of Carlsbad’s most renowned citizens. She was a humanitarian, nurse, and teacher who earned the nickname “The Angel of the Pecos.”
Virginia Dodier, Carlsbad Museum and Art Center
Daily Current-Argus, 6/9/1935, Martha Jane Dowell.
Daily Current-Argus, 6/13/1939.