In 1871 a widow with five small children lived in a humble cottage on upper Buford Street. She had a milk cow named Bess who provided much nourishment for the family. In those days, livestock wandered at will over the new town of Bristol. One day old Bess wandered into the railroad yard and was killed by a freight train. Captain J.H. Wood was at the depot and saw what happened. That night while having supper, Wood decided on a plan to help the poor woman. He remembered that a neighbor had a good milk cow for sale.
George Nickels was working for him that day so he sent him to make the purchase. Captain Wood knew that if his act of kindness became known, there would be many a request from others. So he told George to make the purchase and about midnight, lead the cow across town to the widow’s lot. He further instructed him that if the lady heard him and called out, to simply call back that the angel of the Lord had brought her a cow from heaven. Sure enough, the sleepless widow did hear strange noises in her cow lot and cried out in fear. Trying to make his voice sound heavenly, George called out the words Captain Wood had told him and quickly fled into the darkness.
Within days, the widow had spread the word all over town that a fine milk cow had been delivered to her by an angel from heaven. Somehow the word leaked out that the “angel” was none other than the very unangelic George Nickels. For the rest of his short life, he was known as “Angel” George Nickels, which he hated. Meanwhile, the “angel” continued living his reputation as an avid gambler, loan shark, bartender and persistent womanizer.
Holy Cow is the artist’s photo-realistic depiction of how George Nickels, a Confederate soldier and bartender in the Nickel Plate Saloon, came to bear the nickname “Angel George” for several years of his short life. This story is shared by Bristol’s beloved historian, V.N. Bud Phillips, in his book, Hidden History of Bristol – Stories from the State Line. Classic of the artist’s style, this surreal work of art includes hidden references to the location of the story. Located on the belly of the cow, is a marking in the shape of the states of Tennessee and Virginia; a white star within the shape marks Bristol Tennessee – Virginia. The shack portrayed on this image currently stands and is located on Bristol Caverns Hwy. in Bristol, Tennessee.
Lidany Rouse was born in the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in 1973. Rouse works predominantly in the medium of photography, but likes to include graphic design in her surreal photo manipulation pieces. Rouse is a self-taught graphic designer and photographer and has been pursuing her passions professionally since 2008. Her photography has been featured in Wellness Magazine, Plough to Pantry Magazine and more. Her piece, The Taming of the South Holston River, recently ranked in the top 30 class ahead of 33,953 images in ViewBug’s Image of the Month Photo Contest Vol 5. She is represented in the collection of A Work of Art Gallery & Gifts in Bristol Tennessee. Rouse has served on the board for the gallery as secretary since 2014. She lives and works in Bristol with her husband, daughters and one loving three-legged dog among their furry family.
Classic of the artist’s style, this surreal work of art includes hidden references to the location of the story. Located on the belly of the cow, is a marking in the shape of the states of Tennessee and Virginia; a white star within the shape marks Bristol Tennessee – Virginia.