Big Nose George Becomes a Pair of Shoes

George Parrot is infamous for being hanged as an outlaw and for being the only man in American history who became a pair of shoes after his death. Parrot — known for his large nose — was nicknamed “Big Nose George.” He was a member of a gang of road agents and horse thieves who were active in the Powder River country of Wyoming. They robbed pay wagons and stagecoaches of cash shipments and relieved passengers of their money and jewelry. On August 16, 1878, the gang planned to rob a Union Pacific train near Medicine Bow by manipulating the tracks to derail the train. However, as 7 of the gang members hid in the brush waiting for the train to arrive, a railroad crew came along and discovered the tampered with rail. Their plan thwarted, the outlaws could do nothing but silently watch as the track was repaired. In no time, a posse was sent to apprehend the would-be train robbers. Two lawmen soon tracked the gang to Rattlesnake Canyon at Elk Mountain, where the outlaws shot and killed them. Big Nose George was eventually captured and hauled off to jail. He was found guilty on Dec. 15, 1880 and was sentenced to hang on April 2, 1881. After the hanging, with no family to claim the corpse, Dr. John Osborne took possession of the body and proceeded to remove the skin from the dead man’s thighs and chest, which he then sent to a tannery in Denver with a very strange set of instructions. They were to use the skin to make a pair of shoes. In 1892, Dr. Osborne was elected the first Democratic governor of Wyoming and proudly wore the shoes to his inaugural ball in 1893. Later, Osborne would become the Assistant Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson.