His story of the hanging of Dutch Charlie and Big Nose George follows. AS RELATED BY JOHN MILLIKEN SR, OLD TIMER OF CARBON AND HANNA, WYOMING.
THE KILLING OF BOB WIDDOWFIELD AND UNDERSHERIFF VINCENT
AND THE HANGING OF DUTCH CHARLEY AND BIG NOSE GRORGE,
The desperados (Dutch, Charley, Big Nose, George, and others) came to rob the train at Como Lake, east of Medicine Bow. They undertook to pull the spikes and fish plates from the rails and had a telephone wire attached to the rail to pull it out when the time came. They went to an old dry ditch and as soon as the express came along they were going to pull the rail. There were about six of them.
Brown, the section foreman, was taking a walk up the track in the capacity of section boss. He noticed the spikes and the fish plates drawn. He didn't stop, but just looked at them and kept on walking. A certain distance past he came back and passed the place again and didn't stop, but notified the authorities to save any wrecks.
The desperados saw they were outdone and had a dispute among themselves about what was the next thing to do. They got scared and left and came by the way of first Sand Creek, through Four Mile Springs, through Seven Mile Springs, through Bloody Lake on the north side of Fort Alex, into Rattlesnake Pass and from Rattlesnake they went up into the timber. There were some government surveyors surveying there at that time but they paid no attention to the men as they went up into the timber.
On about the first of March, Bob Widdowfield and Under Sheriff Vincent went on the trail of the desperados. They found their trail at Bloody Lake and followed the trail but a man following a trail can't go very fast. Soon they were in the timber at Rattlesnake where the bandits were watching them from higher up in the timber with field glasses. They came right up and saw the smoke of a small fire. The undersheriff and Bob Widdowfield rode up to where the smoke was and Widdowfield got off his horse. He put his hand down to see if the fire was hot. He said it was "hot as hell" and that they would get the bandits before night. As he raised up he was shot in the neck by one of the desperados, supposed to be Dutch Charley. Vincent, when Widdowfield was shot, was on his horse and took up the canyon on a dead run. The bandits came out and hit him too and turned him over. They took the bodies into the timber and covered them with brush. They had a partition built with brush so that they could see and watch Widdowfield and Vincent coming without being seen themselves. They stripped the bodies, then they took the horses and saddles and all materials that they had had. Then they took the bodies up the canyon and buried them.
Then the desperados left from Rattlesnake and went due north over to the Black Hills. That is where they were located and one or two of them were shot there. Dutch Charley got shot in the left arm in the mix up in the Black Hills and they fetched him down to Carbon on an express train. The citizens of Carbon found out that he was coming and they all marched, big and little, and young and old, and when the train stopped at Carbon to take coal and water they all marched in a body through the passenger coaches looking for Dutch Charley. They knew he was on the train and when they found he wasn't in the passenger coaches they went to the express car and asked for admittance. They were refused and broke the door in. They went in with guns. There were two sheriffs and an express man in the car and they were told to "Throw up your hands." They all stood with their hands in the air. Then the men said "Where are they?" (meaning the bandits.) The mob wasn't given any satisfaction and one of them said "If you don't tell us where they are we will get you." There they stood with their hands in the air and one of the sheriffs pointed toward a bunch of buffalo robes on the floor of the car and when they went and pulled aside the buffalo robes there was Dutch Charley underneath them. He had chains on his feet and was handcuffed. They pulled him out and stood him on a fifty-gallon whiskey barrel and had a rope flung over a telephone pole. One of the leaders of the mob said, "Now, if you will tell us the truth and all about who killed Vincent and Widdowfield, we will see you get a fair trial." Dutch Charley said, "I don't know nothing about it but if you'll let me go, I'll help catch them all. I've heard about it but I don't know nothing about it." They went through his pockets and all they found was about two and one-half inches of chewing tobacco and a box of salve. One of the men grabbed Dutch Charley by the arm and he flinched and the man said, "What's the matter here?" And Dutch Charley said, "A stray bullet hit me." Then they said, "Now we're not going to take any more chances with you and if you don't acknowledge everything we'll string you up!" "All right, boys," he says, "I am innocent but I will guarantee you I will catch them if you let me go. "We can't let you go. We'll have to hang you up!" "Don't, boys," he said. He was standing on the barrel all this time and they got awfully tired of him and they stretched the rope. They said "One, two, three" all together and they pulled him off. Then they let him down. During this time Joe Widdowfield, Bob Widdowfield's half brother, had brought Bob Widdowfield's mother over to look at Dutch Charley. She looked at him and said, "You bad man! You shot my poor son!" Then the crowd got excited and said "Up he goes." And away they went. I'll bet they pulled him up a dozen times and each time he came down ker-plop and his neck kept stretching.. All this time he was standing on the barrel with his head over and turned up. The barrel would move one way and then another. Back and forth it seesawed from side to side. They gave him a few more pulls and I guess his neck was stretched a good eighteen inches. They tied him up handing to the telephone pole and left him until the sheriff came down from Rawlins the next morning and took him to Rawlins. When the passenger train came through that morning the men and conductors pulled all the curtains down so they couldn't see Dutch Charley hanging on the pole.
During all this time there was a detective hiding in town and eight or ten men went and got him to identify Dutch Charley before they hung him. He stood right in amongst them and looked up at him and Charley couldn't see him because they were all crowded around. He said, "For God's sake, don't let him see me." "That's Dutch Charley!" "That's the man that did the killing of Widdowfield and Vincent," the detective said.
After that, Big Nose George was fetched over in another train and the men marched him over to an old stable in town and they all sat around him and he was in the center. They asked him to acknowledge and tell the truth and he would get a fair trial and If you don't we'll hang you the same as Dutch Charley." He then told them about the shooting of Vincent and Widdowfield, of the stripping off of their clothes and the mutilating of the bodies. He told everything and he was taken to Rawlins and kept in the jail there until his trial. During the time he was in jail he had the freedom of the corridor. Bob Rankin was jailor. As he was coming up the corridor with the keys in his hand, Big Nose George grabbed the keys and hit him over the head and knocked him out. Mrs. Rankin happened to be with him at the time and she grabbed the keys from Big Nose George so he didn't get away. That night he was taken out and they strung him up. They put him in a barrel and took him to Rock Springs so the sheriff wouldn't get after them. Then they fetched him back to Rawlins and tanned his hide. I had a piece of it and I know a man who got a pair of slippers made out of part of it.
The trial of all the men from Carbon who were in on it, came off and they were all declared innocent. Each man had to appear before the judge, but not one of them told anything and they were all found innocent.
That was the last of it, except for the burying of Widdowfield. They found his body decomposed. It had been lying there for about six weeks. They buried him in Carbon and put up a headstone by his friends, August 17, 1878.
Source:Hanna Basin Museum.com
Big Nose George his skull, as well as the shoes, are now on display at the Carbon County Museum
In 1881, George Parrott, a cattle rustler popularly known as Big Nose George, was lynched in Rawlins, Wyoming.
Parrott was notable for "Banditry, Murder, being made into a pair of shoes." Oh, and being pickled.
The series of events that lead to Parrott's death began on August 19, 1878, when he and his gang tried to wreck a train near Medicine Bow, Wyoming so they could rob it. They loosened a rail and waited patiently, but an alert section foreman spotted the loose rail and notified railroad authorities, who came and fixed it before the train arrived.
Realizing the law would be after them, Parrott's gang fled toward Elk Mountain and hid in Rattlesnake Canyon, waiting to ambush the posse they knew would be coming.
As soon as the lawmen were within their rifle sights, the bandits opened fire. Parrott killed Tip Vincent Henry H "Tip" Vincents
, a Union Pacific Railroad agent; one of the other fugitives, "Dutch" Charley Bates Charlie "Dutch Charley" Burris
, killed Deputy Sheriff Robert Widdowfield Robert Widdowfield
The gang then fled and hid out in Montana for a span, eventually reaching Canada — and all the while continuing their criminal ways.
Parrott couldn't keep his mouth shut about his outlaw exploits and bragged everywhere he went. Inevitably, someone who'd heard one of his stories went to Rawlins and happened to mention the hook-nosed man who'd tried to derail a train, then killed two people when their plan failed.
"Dutch" Charley Bates was arrested in Green River, Wyoming in December 1878 and put on a train bound for Rawlins to face trial. Ironically, it was the same train he'd tried to derail earlier that year.
But Bates never made it to Rawlins: when the train made a stop at Carbon City, a group of masked vigilantes overpowered Bates's guards, hauled him off the train, forced him to confess to his crimes and then hoisted him up on a rope to slowly strangle to death.
Parrott remained at large and the reward for his capture grew to $2,000 before his big mouth got him into trouble again. He and his gang had held up several stagecoaches and pulled off a particularly lucrative job in July 1880. He bragged about it to a lady friend, who told other people, and eventually word reached the ears of the Rawlins sheriff. Within hours he was under arrest.
In a repeat of the Bates lynching, a posse forced Parrott from his Rawlins-bound train in Carbon City. R. Michael Wilson, in his book Frontier Justice in the Wild West, writes what happened next:
They escorted him onto the station platform, put a noose around his neck, yanked him up, then lowered him and asked for a full confession. When he hesitated the men pulled him up several times and then promised that if he confessed, he would be given a fair trial — but if he did not confess, he would be hung. Parrott talked, and once he began, he gave every detail of his various criminal ventures, some of which were quite a surprise to the vigilantes. The mob, true to their word, then returned the prisoner to the custody of Sheriff Rankin.
That's touching behavior for a vigilante mob, but it sure feels like Carbon City could stand to tighten up its railroad security.
At any rate, Parrott was tried for Tip Vincent's murder in the fall of 1880, convicted, and sentenced to death.
However, on March 20, 1881, thirteen days before he was scheduled to hang, he made a desperate escape attempt. Though Parrott managed to knock Sheriff Rankin unconscious, Mrs. Rankin foiled the breakout by locking up the cells before Parrott could get out. Extra guards were assigned to watch him after that.
As Wilson records,
Sheriff Rankin asked the townsmen to wait the short time remaining before the prisoner was to be legally hanged, but the general opinion was that the sheriff had taken enough abuse from the prisoner and that Parrott might yet escape if left to await his fate on April 2. On March 22 at 10:55 p.m., a party of thirty masked men went to the jail and removed Parrott. They marched him to the telegraph pole … A rope was placed over the crossbeam of a telegraph pole, the noose was secured around the prisoner's neck, and Parrott was forced to stand upon a barrel. Parrott begged piteously to be shot and cried out that it was cruel to hang him, but his pleas were ignored.
They kicked the barrel out from under him, but it was too short: the rope and Parrott's neck stretched enough so that his toes touched the ground.
The mob cut him down and went and got a ladder. Parrott climbed it and said he would jump off and break his neck, but as far as the vigilantes were concerned, that was too good for him: they pulled the ladder away instead, and he slowly strangled to death, tearing off one of his ears in the process.
Drs. Thomas Maghee Dr Thomas Gillis Maghee
and John Eugene Osborne John Eugene Osborne
conducted the autopsy, examined Parrott's brain, and could find no apparent abnormalities. Osborne then removed a large piece of skin from the dead man's chest, kept the skullcap, and put the rest of the body in a whiskey barrel full of saline solution, effectively pickling it. The barrel was buried without ceremony, and Dr. Osborne had the skin tanned. He sent the leather to a shoemaker, who made him a pair of shoes with it.
Dr. Osborne was disappointed that Parrott's nipples weren't on the tips of the toes like he'd requested.
skull was crudely sawn off, and the cap was presented to 15-year-old Lillian Heath Dr Lillian Evelyn Heath Nelson
, then a medical assistant to Maghee. Heath became the first female doctor in Wyoming and is said to have used the cap as an ash tray, a pen holder and a doorstop A death mask was also created of Parrott's face, and skin from his thighs and chest was removed. The skin, including the dead man's nipples, was sent to a tannery in Denver, where it was made into a pair of shoes and a medical bag. They were kept by Osborne, who wore the shoes to his inaugural ball after being elected as the first Democratic Governor of the State of Wyoming. Parrott's dismembered body was stored in a whiskey barrel filled with a salt solution for about a year, while the experiments continued, until he was buried in the yard behind Maghee's office
He wore the human leather shoes on special occasions, including at his inaugural ball when he was elected governor of Wyoming in 1890.
The death of Big Nose George faded into history over the years until May 11, 1950, when construction workers unearthed a whiskey barrel filled with bones while working on the Rawlins National Bank on Cedar Street in Rawlins. Inside the barrel was a skull with the top sawed off, a bottle of vegetable compound, and the shoes said to have been made from Parrott's thigh flesh. Dr. Lillian Heath, then in her eighties, was contacted and her skull cap was sent to the scene. It was found to fit the skull in the barrel perfectly, and DNA testing later confirmed the remains were those of Big Nose George. Today the shoes made from the skin of Big Nose George are on permanent display at the Carbon County Museum in Rawlins, together with the bottom part of the outlaw's skull and Big Nose George's earless death mask. The shackles used during the hanging of the outlaw, as well as the skull cap, are on show at the Union Pacific Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. The medicine bag made from his skin has never been found
Frontier Justice in the Wild West: Bungled, Bizarre, and Fascinating Executions by R. Michael Wilson
Created by: Kat Carter
Record added: Jul 09, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 113556618