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Big Nose George - Wyoming Justice

By Donna Poulton

The outlaw “Big Nose” George Parrott would surely have died in obscurity had his body not been discovered by construction workers 72 years after his death, buried in a whiskey barrel. A run of the mill outlaw with little to distinguish his bad ways, Parrott was hung from a telegraph pole by a lynch mob in Rawlins, Wyoming after trying to escape from jail.

Photo courtesy of Carbon County Museum

His real punishment came at the hands of the local doctor, John Eugene Osborne, who took possession of Parrott’s cadaver to forensically examine the brain of the criminal. Osborne made a bowl of Parrott’s skullcap and gave it to his assistant Lillian Heath, who used it as an “ash tray, pen holder and door stop.”

Lillian Heath, first female doctor in Wyoming. Photo courtesy of Carbon County Museum

Osborne also sent Parrott’s skin to be tanned and then crafted it into a pair of shoes…the same shoes he wore to his inauguration as the Governor of the state of Wyoming in 1890.

Dr. John Osborn. Photo courtesy of Carbon County Museum

A Freemason with reputed lineage in the Knights Templar, Doctor Osborne was 84 when he died in 1943 … seven years before the bones were found buried in the back yard of his old office.  Dr. Heath still had the skullcap – which was a perfect match to the remainder of the skull found in the barrel.

The skull, shoes and other memorabilia can be seen at the Carbon County Museum.

Photo courtesy of