Big Nose George Parrott was an 1880s Wild West outlaw who grew up to become a pair of shoes.
As for his nasal nickname, well, one legend goes:
“The nose of the dead man was so large that it interfered with the lid of the coffin and excess pressure had to be exerted to close it and nail it down.”
George Parrot died in a horrible way – his lynching was so botched that his ears were worn off – but what happened to him after his death is the gruesome part.
The corpse was taken over by Doctors Thomas Maghee and John Osborn in an early attempt at neurology.
With the assistance of fifteen-year-old assistant Lillian Heath, the doctors cut into George’s head. After roughly removing the skull cap, they found no differences between George’s criminal brain and a “normal” one.
It gets weirder.
Osborn began by making a death mask of Big Nose George’s face with plaster of paris (sans ears).
The good doctor kept Parrott’s body in a whiskey barrel in an office for around a year while the two men conducted experiments.
Along the way, Osborne sent parts of the corpse to a tannery, and commissioned the pair of shoes, as well as a medical bag and a coin purse, made out of Parrott’s skin.
He was apparently disappointed that George’s nipples weren’t used!
But he still wore the shoes, so legend goes, to his inaugural ball as Governor of Wyoming.
The skull cap was gifted to Miss Heath, who later became the first female doctor in the state of Wyoming.
Over the years, she used it as a ashtray and a doorstop in her office. Quite a talking point!
The death mask, skull and skin shoes of Big Nose George are now the star attraction at the Carbon County Museum in Rawlins, Wyoming.
The medicine bag has never been found, while the coin purse was misplaced.
Naturally, the little old lady volunteers didn’t want to handle the coin purse – it was made out of his scrotum.
We can tut-tut at all this historic gruesomeness, but the Carbon County Museum know that, while they protect our sensibilities behind a partial wall
“…..that is what [people] came to see, and they run the beaten path right to it.”
Read the full story over at Cult of Weird.
Siobhan is a freelance writer, research addict and lover of twisted history. If you like horrible but amazing history, check out her website www.interesly.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/interesly. Or you can reach her through www.siobhanoshea.com.