Skin Shoes and an Ashtray Skull: They Hated Big Nose George

This isn’t quite a Cremains of the Day post, because it’s not something you can request to have done (I hope). From The Oddment Emporium come these historic notes on a lawman-killing criminal of the 19th century and the strange post-mortem trophies manufactured out of him:

In 1878, Parrott and his gang murdered two law enforcement officers in the US state of Wyoming. 

In 1880, after getting drunk and boasting of the killings, the men were apprehended and Big Nose George was sentenced to hang on April 2, 1881, following a trial, but he attempted to escape while being held at a Rawlins, Wyoming, jail. When news of the attempted escape reached the people of Rawlins, a 200-strong lynch mob snatched George from the prison at gunpoint and strung him up from a telegraph pole.

Doctors Thomas Maghee and John Eugene Osborne took possession of Parrott’s body after his death, in order to study the outlaw’s brain for signs of criminality. During these procedures, the top of Parrott’s skull was crudely sawn off and the cap was presented to a 15-year-old girl named Lilian Heath. Heath would go on to become the first female doctor in Wyoming, and is noted to have used Parrott’s skull as an ash tray, pen holder and doorstop.

Skin from George’s thighs, chest and face was removed. The skin, including the dead man’s nipples, was sent to a tannery in Denver, where it was made into a pair of shoes and a medical bag. The shoes were kept by John Eugene Osborne, who wore them at his inaugural ball after being elected as the first Democratic Governor of the State of Wyoming.

There’s more at the link about the final dispensation (hint: there’s a barrel of whiskey involved), but let us acknowledge that Old West justice, not to mention the rare lady doctor, could be savage when riled.

But what did part they use the nipples for?


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