March 22 Big Nose George Was Lynched, Skull Broke and Skinned
Don’t stop me if you’ve heard of outlaw Big Nose George, because March 22, 1881 was a big day in Rawlins, WY. Not scheduled to be executed until April 1, a very angry mob lynched George Parrot over a week early.
Aka Big beak Parrott, George Manuse and George Warden, says Wikipedia is the outlaw who’s skin was made into a pair of shoes. It sounds like the folk were proud to make that another deterring example of what they do to scum who kill lawmen.
Yes, a cattle thief/stage robber turned killer in 1878, when a Wyoming Deputy sheriff and Union Pacific detective were shot in a train robbery. That got a $10,000 reward on his big nose because now he was really was a bad guy. The reward was later doubled to $20,000.
In February of 1879, Parrott and cohorts robbed a convoy with a prosperous merchant near present day Terry Montana. It was daring because there were 15 soldiers, two officers, and a wagon tasked to collect army payroll.
The arrest came in 1880 in Miles City when two local deputies found George and a friend, drunk, and boasting of killing lawmen. Parrott was later returned to Wyoming to face charges of murder. At the Rawlins jail, by March 22, 1881 George had his shackles worn off, and hid in the washroom until jailor Robert Rankin entered. Using the shackles, Parrott struck Rankin over the head, fracturing his skull. Rankin managed to fight back, calling out to his wife, Rosa, for help at the same time. Grabbing a pistol, she managed to persuade Parrott to return to his cell.
Townspeople got word of the attempt, and groups of people started making their way to the jail. While Rankin lay recovering. he was held at gunpoint, with his keys taken, then Parrott was dragged from his cell. A lynch mob of near 200 people strung up George via telegraph pole.
Now here’s the rest of the story. Doctors took possession of Parrott's body. The top of Parrott's skull was crudely sawed off, and given to 15-year-old Lillian Heath, then a medical assistant who would become the first female doctor in Wyoming. She was said to have used the cap as an ash tray, a pen holder and a doorstop. A death mask was also made of Parrott's face, and skin taken from his thighs and chest would be sent to a tannery in Denver, where it was made into a pair of shoes and a medical bag.
George Parrot didn’t run with the most infamous of his time in Wyoming Territory, but he was well known enough then as a bad outlaw - if not the smartest. Not only did no one get questioned about the desecration of his body, we get the idea it was applauded.