A train robber by the name of Big Nose George met his grizzly fate after a failed train robbery. He and his gang were thwarted by police and went on the run. When two officers tracked them down, the gang shot and dismembered their bodies. This crime put a lot of people up in arms and there was a thirst to capture them for good.
Big Nose George was the second of the gang members to go down. He was captured in Miles City, Montana in July of 1880 after he was boasting about the crimes he committed while hanging out in a bar. He was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to hang on April 2, 1881, in Rawlins, Wyoming. On March 22, he tried to escape but failed. A mob of over two hundred angry townfolk watched as George Parrott was strung up and hanged.
George had no family to claim his body, so it went to Doctor John Osborn. Osborn had a criminally insane wife, so he wanted to study an actual criminal’s brain to see if there was any way he could help her. After crudely examining George’s body and brain, he found no stark differences between his brain and a normal one.
The experiments didn’t stop there. He made a death mask of George’s face. He also removed the skin from George’s chest and thighs, which he sent off with instructions to make a medicine bag and a pair of shoes. The medicine bag has never been uncovered, but the shoes made its way through history.
Osborn went on to become the first Democratic governor of Wyoming. He even worse his “special shoes” at his inaugural ball in 1893. He later became the Assistant Secretary of State under President Wilson.
Big Nose George’s death mask, skull, and the shoes made of his skin are safely kept at the Carbon County Museum in Rawlins, Wyoming, along with other artifacts. His skull cap resides at the Union Pacific Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The whereabouts of the rest of his remains is still a mystery.