Monday, July 07, 2014

Big Nose George: shoes made from human skin

George Parrott, aka George Manuse, George Warden or just Big Nose George was a cattle rustler and Western highwayman in the late 19th century. In 1878 the Parrott Gang murdered two law enforcement officers, trying to escape from a bungled train robbery. A reward of $10,000 was offered for the "apprehension of their murderers", this was later doubled to $20,000. Following a daring robbery, Big Nose George Parrott and Charlie Burris or "Dutch Charley" were arrested in Miles City and sentenced to hang on April 2, 1881. After he tried to escape injuring the jailer enraged towns folk dragged him from his cell and strung him up from a telegraph pole. The body of the notorious robber and killer was acquired by two local doctors and used for medical research. The top of his skull was crudely removed and eventually became an ashtray and doorstop. A death mask was created of Parrott's face, and skin from his thighs and chest were 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 Oxfords were kept by one of the doctors who wore the shoes to his inaugural ball after being elected as the first Democratic Governor of the State of Wyoming. He later became the assistant Secretary of State under President Wilson. Parrott's dismembered body was stored in a whiskey barrel filled with a salt solution for about a year, while the experiments continued, until he was buried in the back yard. In 1950 the whiskey barrel was unearthed during construction and among the human remains found there was the pair of shoes made from Parrott's thigh flesh. The medicine bag has never been found. Today the shoes made =from the skin of Big Nose George are on permanent display at the Carbon County Museum in Rawlins.

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