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"Big Nose George" −by Gary Jacobs

     George is carved on a 1937 F/XF 3/4 horn buffalo nickel that is signed on the reverse with my usual G hanging J personal hallmark. It has a very smooth field and the detail is extra crisp and clean. This is one of those that has high eye appeal, when viewed in person, it just jumps out at you.

     George Manuse, AKA George Parrot, AKA George Curry, AKA Big Nose George... is famous for being the only man in American history to become a pair of shoes after his death. His skin was literally used to make a pair of shoes which were worn by the doctor who received his body after his death and who later became governor.

     As you can see from the photo, he had a huge nose and therefore the reason for his nickname. He was a rustler and robber who in his life ran with the likes of the James Gang (Jesse and Frank), Dutch Charley and the Wild Bunch (Butch Cassidy's gang) AKA the Hole-In-The-Wall-Gang. Along with the James brothers and Dutch Charley, they decided they should rob a train but when set upon this task, had no good idea how best this might be accomplished. Since Jesse had vandalized a railroad track on one occasion previously, Big Nose thought that perhaps this procedure would work for their purposes. At a section of the railroad just east of the community of Carbon, they would remove the bolts from a splice in the rail and connect a wire so they could separate the rails when the train was approaching and which would derail the train so they could easily rob it. The problem was that in the middle of this project, a Union Pacific foreman came along on the track in a hand car (a manually operated car which traveled the tracks under human power). The would-be robbers hid from the hand car but the worker realized that there was a vandalism in progress and continued on his way, eventually stopping the train and avoiding the catastrophe.

     The law was summoned and dispatched to the area and a pursuit ensued with the James brothers going one way and George and Charley heading toward Elk Mountain, a rugged, forested mountain nearby where they though they could evade capture. It was there on August 8, 1878, in Big Canyon along Rattlesnake Creek that Deputy H. H. Vinson and Robert Widowfield were killed by the two desperadoes. This act would eventually lead to the demise of George and Charley, both at the hands of vigilantes and both by hanging, Charley in the town of Carbon and Big Nose in Rawlins, some two years apart.

     After an extensive manhunt, Dutch Charley was the first caught in Montana and he confessed to the crimes and was returned to Wyoming. He was hopeful that confessing would gain him favor and a prison term rather than the death penalty. Sorry, Charley but the locals were too upset with losing two of their own and they removed Charley from a train headed for Rawlins for trial in 1879. They lynched him from a telephone pole soon after removing him from the train because there were no trees in town. Big Nose eluded capture for two years but in 1881 was also apprehended in Miles City, Montana and also confessed. He too was removed from the train at Carbon on his way to Rawlins for trial but the mob was subdued and George went on to Rawlins, still alive. He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to hanging. Big Nose once again came up with a big plan which back-fired. He decided to try to escape but was thwarted and since he beat up and almost killed a guard in the process, the locals decided enough was enough and broke George out of jail themselves, quickly taking him to a telephone pole in front of a Saloon where they promptly attempted to lynch him. The first two attempts proved futile as the rope broke both times but on the third attempt, George's life came to an end at the end of the mob's rope.

     Since nobody came to claim the body of the outlaw, a young doctor in Rawlins named J. E. Osborne took the body and proceeded to cut the top of his skull off. He then examined the brain to see if there was some abnormality which made him do what he had done. He found no abnormalities. He then had George skinned and sent the skin to a tannery in Denver, Colorado where he ordered a pair of shoes made from the skin. Dr. Osborne actually wore the shoes made from George抯 skin on special occasions and he must have looked very handsome indeed as he later became the Governor of the State of Wyoming. It is said that he wore these same shoes to the inaugural ball and the shoes now sit in the Carbon County Museum where they are proudly displayed!

     It must have been determined that George had not suffered enough indignity so they placed his body in a barrel and he was buried nearby (it was discovered some 70 years later). This barrel was unearthed in 1951 by construction crews digging the basement for a planned dime store and the mystery as to where he had been buried was revealed. After much investigation by law enforcement officers and historians it was determined the body was that of George Parrot, the famed Outlaw with the distinctive nose.

     The top of George's skull became a bowl owned by Dr. Lillian Nelson (the first female doctor to practice in Wyoming) and she used it as a doorstop. The shoes and sawed-off skull, as noted previously, ended up at the Museum in Rawlins which at one time was the Mormon church. Admission to the museum is free so please, if passing through this area, stop in and look through the museum, taking special note of this historic display!

  Special thanks to Ralph Winter who is responsible for the final form of this interesting research subject.  
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Webpage last updated:   Sunday, January 23, 2005