The Parrott and Burris Gang - The Murder of Lawmen Bob Widdowfield and Tip Vincent
From: The Hanna Miner: At the Bottom of the Mine by Bob Leathers
The Carbon coal miners sought revenge for the murder of local lawmen Bob Widdowfield and Tip Vincent by the outlaw gang lead by "Dutch Charlie" Burris and "Big Nose George" Parrott. The miners were also angry that the outlaws might have been after their mine payroll. The murder of lawmen Bob Widdowfield and Tip Vincent in 1878 is a long and complex story. It stretches out over sixty years.
The murder of lawmen Bob Widdowfield and Tip Vincent
- Saturday August 17, 1878, two days before the murder
A gang of outlaws, which included “Dutch Charlie” Burris and “Big Nose George” Parrott, attempted to rob a Union Pacific Railroad train east of Carbon near Como Lake. Their attempt to rob the train was abandoned when a section crew working on the tracks discovered their plans. In fear of being caught, the gang headed west toward Elk Mountain, passing a few miles south of the coal camp of Carbon. Carbon County Sheriff Robert "Bob" Widdowfield and Union Pacific Railroad Special Agent H. H. “Tip” Vincent set out after the outlaws and tracked the gang to the Rattlesnake Canyon at the base of Elk Mountain. The lawmen were spotted coming, and when they arrived at their camp, the outlaws murdered them.
- Friday August 23, 1878, four days after the murders
Widdowfield and Vincent did not return from tracking the robbers when expected, so additional men were sent out to search for them.
The two men who went out last Friday in search of the two scouts returned on Sunday and reported having met some surveyors who told them about seeing a party of horsemen enter the canyon at Elk Mountain, and soon after, the two men following them in. They heard some twenty shots fired in rapid succession soon after. (Laramie Weekly Sentinel, Aug. 31, 1878)
- Monday August 26, 1878, seven days after the murders
Responding to the reports that a surveying party spotted some riders and heard gunshots near Elk Mountain earlier in the week, a posse, headed by Sheriff Lawry of Rawlins, was formed over that weekend to check it out.
On the first day of the search, the posse came up empty.
On the first day of the search, the posse came up empty.
Sheriff Lawry, of Rawlins, organized a party of twenty men, and went out early Monday morning. Nothing was found. (Laramie Weekly Sentinel, Aug. 30, 1878)
- Tuesday August 27, 1878, eight days after the murders
On the second day of the search, John Foote, a rancher in the Elk Mountain area who knew the mountain terrain well, was added to the posse. With Foote's help, the bodies of Widdowfield and Vincent were found in the Rattlesnake Canyon at the base of Elk Mountain.
On the second day of the search, Widdowfield and Vincent were found. The bodies were much decomposed, and they were doubtlessly murdered a week ago last Monday, when the surveyors heard the firing. The bodies had been dragged into a dry creek bed and some brush and gravel thrown over them, partly burying them. They appeared to have been all shot to pieces, with as many as seven bullet holes being seen in the head of Widdowfield. These scouts, when they were sent out, were directed to play themselves for stockmen, and if they succeeded in coming across the outlaws not to attempt their capture or any interference, but to come back and report. Every effort will be made now to hunt down and kill these outlaws, and no labor or expense will be spared to that end. It is unfortunate that this search for the missing scouts was not undertaken sooner, as the murderers have now some ten days head start in which to make their escape out of the country. (Cheyenne Weekly Leader, Aug. 29, 1878)
- Thursday August 29, 1878, two days after being found at Elk Mountain and ten days after being murdered
The bodies were brought into Fort Steele today, and Widdowfield was taken to Carbon and Vincent to Rawlins for burial. (Laramie Weekly Sentinel, Aug. 31, 1878)
- Saturday August 31, 1878, four days after being found and twelve days after being murdered
Bob Widdowfield was buried in the Carbon, Wyoming cemetery and Tip Vincent in the Rawlins, Wyoming cemetery.
- September 26, 1878, thirty-eight days after the murders
The Union Pacific Railroad subscribed $200.00 to aid in the erection of a monument to Widdowfield and Vincent, who were both killed by the robbers. (Cheyenne Weekly Leader, Sept. 26, 1878)
"Dutch Charlie" Burris
- Wednesday, December 31, 1878, four months after the murders
Dutch Charlie Burris was arrested in Green River. He was transported from Green River to Laramie, the home of the Territorial Prison, by train. Several accounts of the arrest were printed in the local newspapers.
John Lefever captured one of the Vincent and Widdowfield murderers this week at Green River. He gives his name sometimes as Bates and sometimes as Davis. He is known as "Dutch Charley" and was one of the worst of the gang. Positive evidence is in possession of the authorities that he was one of the active participants in the murder of Vincent and Widdowfield last summer at Elk Mountain. (Laramie Sentinel, Jan. 3, 1879)
Assisted by Sheriff Dykins, Bates [Dutch Charlie] was arrested last Tuesday at Green River by two detectives from Laramie City. He was standing in a saloon when the officers entered and called to him to "throw up his hands" and surrender, which he did. He was taken to Laramie on the same day. (Cheyenne Daily Sun, Jan. 6, 1879)
"Dutch Charlie," who has been for a long time plying his vocation near Fort McKinney as a road agent, is in limbo at Green River. He is one of the hardest customers in the business. (Cheyenne Weekly Leader, Jan. 9, 1879)
- Sunday January 5, 1879, five days after Burris was captured and four months after the murders
After a short stay in the Laramie jail after his arrest in Green River, Dutch Charlie was on his way to Rawlins from Laramie on train Number 3 to stand trial for the murder of Bob Widdowfield and Tip Vincent. He was in the custody of Laramie Deputy Sheriff Ed Kerns. He was forcibly taken off the train in Carbon and lynched by the citizens of Carbon.
Last night at 9:25 o'clock, when passenger train No. 3 stopped at this station, a party of masked men, composed of miners and citizens, broke open the door of the baggage car and took Chas. Bates, alias "Dutch Charlie," out and hung him to a telegraph pole. The train was delayed only thirteen minutes by the operation. Dutch Charlie was one of the murderers of Bob Widdowfield and T. P. Vincent on Elk Mountain last fall. The prisoner was arrested at Green River some time since and was taken to Laramie City, when he was on his way from Laramie City to Rawlins for trial. He was under charge of an officer named Kern. Dutch Charlie, just before he was hung, confessed his guilt. He implored his captors to shoot instead of hang him. (Cheyenne Weekly Leader, Jan. 9, 1879)
"Dutch Charlie" was taken up to Carbon on No. 3 last Sunday for examination.The miners interviewed him, and he "now sleeps in the valley." (Laramie Sentinel, Jan. 10, 1889)
Every good citizen of Wyoming will endorse the summary punishment of “Dutch Charlie” at Carbon on Sunday night. Let the good work continue. (The Cheyenne Weekly Leader, Jan. 9, 1879)
Number 10 in the picture below shows the location of the telephone pole on which "Dutch Charlie" was supposedly hanged. It was near John Milliken's Boarding House at Number 11.
Dutch Charlie didn't have a bad reputation only in Wyoming; he was well known in other parts of the country for his crooked ways as well.
Council Bluffs: "Dutch Charlie," who was taken from a Union Pacific train in Wyoming the other day and left dangling from a telegraph pole, was once a resident of Council Bluffs, and was the author, while here, of numerous crimes, ranging from forgery to murder. He was a "bad citizen" in the strongest sense of the term, and though we might not be able to approve the means of his taking off, it cannot be said that he merited any less awful fate." (Cheyenne Daily Sun, Jan. 11, 1879)
The two parties, Ed Beerup and James Nelson, recently arrested on suspicion of having stolen the horses of Maers, Orr and Markham, were discharged from jail last night, it having transpired that they are not the guilty parties. The Sheriff at Sidney telegraphed Carr yesterday that he had arrested "Dutch Charlie," who confessed that himself and another party were the ones that took the horses. (Cheyenne Daily Sun, July 2, 1878)
- Wednesday January 8, 1879, four months after the murders and three days after Burris was lynched
Dutch Charlie was buried in an unmarked grave near, but outside the Carbon Cemetery.
The body of Dutch Charlie has been cut down, and an inquest held, the Verdict was death from hanging, by persons unknown. The body was buried Wednesday. (Cheyenne Weekly Leader, Jan. 16, 1879)
Dutch Charlie's burial in Carbon after he was lynched is a controversial subject. Some folks believe he was never buried, but was thrown from a train between Carbon and Rawlins and left for wild critters to devour. Others think he was cut down, thrown in a coal car and sent to Rawlins to be dealt with by the authorities there. Richard Fisher, long time Medicine Bow resident and Carbon historian, adamantly believes Dutch Charlie was cut down after being lynched and buried near the Carbon Cemetery. He maintains the current fence didn't exist then, but when the fence was later placed around the cemetery it separated Dutch Charlie's grave from the rest of the cemetery, leaving him on the outside of the cemetery on the north side of the fence in the sagebrush. During a Carbon Restoration Day in May 2003, Mr. Fisher discussed the murder of Bob Widdowfield and Tip Vincent with a group of restoration workers who, at the time, happened to be working in front of the Widdowfield burial monument. He talked about the murders, the hanging of Dutch Charlie and Big Nose George, the monument placed on Elk Mountain by his grandfather and of the gravesite of Dutch Charlie. To the group's surprise, he pointed out the location of Dutch Charlie's grave and shared why he knew it was there. Mr. Fisher pointed out the general location of Dutch Charlie's final resting place.
Dutch Charlie was hung in Carbon just over the hill (pointing south of the cemetery). When I was a kid my family would talk about the murders and wander over to where Dutch Charlie was buried. Dutch Charlie's grave is just outside the fence, over there (pointing north), right across from that pine tree. Years ago there was a pile of rocks there." (At Richard's invitation some individuals in the group walked around the fence and up the hill to the spot he had pointed out). "It was right in here." There was no physical evidence of a grave, but he maintained the rock pile that once marked the spot was spread out years ago. (Richard Fisher, Carbon Cemetery, May 2003)
Richard Fisher's great uncle arrived in Carbon shortly after the mines and town of Carbon were developed. His grandfather, James Fisher, arrived about 1874. Both of them were living in Carbon when Bob Widdowfield and Tip Vincent were murdered, as well as when Dutch Charlie was taken off the train in Carbon and lynched by the citizens for the murders. It was Richard's grandfather and several other Carbon folks who placed a monument at the site of the murders on Elk Mountain. It only makes sense that the Fisher family would know if the murderous outlaw Dutch Charlie was buried near the Carbon Cemetery or not. In addition to Mr. Fisher, several other Wyoming historians, like the well-known and respected author Lori Van Pelt, believed Dutch Charlie was buried near the Carbon Cemetery.
Dutch Charlie was buried near the Carbon Cemetery. He was not considered worthy of burial in the Carbon Cemetery, where Deputy Widdowfield was laid to rest. Dutch Charley’s unmarked grave is located somewhere in the sagebrush outside the cemetery boundaries. (Big Nose George: A Grisly Frontier Tale, Lori Van Pelt, WyoHistory.org)
Richard Fisher’s remembrances of Dutch Charlie were honored when a marker was placed at the spot where Richard said Dutch Charlie was buried.
- Late January 1879, five months after the murders or eight days after the lynching
Carbon County paid the reward of $2000 for the capture of Dutch Charlie. Half of the reward was to be paid by the Union Pacific Railroad and half by Carbon County.
Statement of Warrants: Issued since July 7, 1879, showing the purpose for which warrants were issued and the total amount of the same:
Election expenses $484.20
Coroner's expenses $104.00
Reward on Dutch Charlie $2000.00
Salary of superintendent $218.00
Sheriff fees $1,988.68
(Carbon County Journal, Jan. 24, 1880)
- Late August 1879, eleven months after the murders or six months after the lynching
The Union Pacific Railroad reimbursed Carbon County for their share of the reward paid out for the capture of Dutch Charlie Burris.
The U.P.R.R. officials have faithfully fulfilled their agreement with our county, in paying half the reward offered for the apprehension of Dutch Charlie. Their agent here, Mr. J.R. Adams, received and paid into the County Treasury this morning the sum of $1000, that being half of the amount offered for Charlie's capture. (Carbon County Journal, 1880)
- Thursday July 15, 1880, one year and ten months after the murders
Authorities in Miles City, Montana arrested Big Nose George. Sheriff Jim Rankin was notified and went to Montana to return the prisoner to the Wyoming Territory. He picked up Big Nose George then traveled from Miles City to Omaha, Nebraska, then on to Cheyenne, Laramie, and then to Carbon. The final destination was Rawlins for trial, but the train could not avoid a stop at Carbon.
- Saturday August 7, 1880, one year and eleven months after the murders
The citizens of Carbon received word that Big Nose George was headed to Rawlins on the train and would come through Carbon. He almost met the same fate as his fellow gang member, Dutch Charlie. Big Nose George, in the custody of Sheriff Jim Rankin, was forcibly taken off the train at Carbon by a group of citizens and threatened to be lynched if he didn't tell all he knew about the killing of Bob Widdowfield and Tip Vincent. He was badly scared, but eventually he made a full confession to the group who abducted him and was returned to the train and the custody of Sheriff Rankin.
On Saturday evening last the fun loving public of this place were congregating for a dance to be given by the mule-drivers of Carbon. No. 3 pulled in on time and to a few citizens it was known that “Big Nose George,” one of the Widdowfield-Vincent murderers, in charge of Sheriff Rankin, was on the train. As soon as the train stopped a shrill voice was heard, calling out numbers from one to about fifteen, and in response to the call about as many armed and masked men boarded the car in which the sheriff and his prisoner were seated. As soon as the sheriff saw the first of the mob enter the car he hastily drew his revolver and ordered them to stand back. They closed in and ordered him to put up his hands and deliver over the key that unlocked the chain that the prisoner was secured to the car seat with. The sheriff refused and called upon several in the car to help keep the mob away from the prisoner. The now impatient mob seized an axe and broke the fastening and at the same time a rope was dexterously thrown around the neck of Big Nose George, who, up to this time, appeared perfectly cool and collected. He was then quickly hustled out of the car and taken to a corral and placed under an ominous looking beam. Before leaving the car he said he was not in the crowd that killed Widdowfield and Vincent, but that if he had to die and it looked like it, he would like to be shot and not hung. As soon as he knew he was under the beam he weakened and said: “I do not want to die with a lie in my mouth, and I will tell the truth, so help me God, but give me a little time. I am so badly scared I can hardly talk.” He was told he could have all the time he wanted and as near as can be learned, he told the following: “I was in the party who murdered Widdowfield and Vincent. The party consisted of Frank Toule, Mack, Dutch Charlie, Jack Campbell, Thomas Reed, Sim Wan and myself. My name is George Francis Warden. I don’t know who killed Widdowfield. When Widdowfield got off his horse to examine the place where our campfire was and said: “It’s hot as hell, we’ll catch them before night.” Somebody in our crowd said “fire” and our guns being in position, we fired almost simultaneously. I don’t know who gave the command to fire. It was almost impossible for us to miss them because we were so close. I think we all fired at Vincent. The horses that belonged to the dead men we took along, they were killed and otherwise disposed of.”
Q: “Why did you kill those men?”
A: “On the principle that dead men tell no tales.”
Q: “Do you know where the balance of the party is that were with you on the day of the murder?”
A: “I do not. We separated the same fall."
I heard that Dutch Charlie was hung. Frank Toule was killed in the Hills and Mack died of fever in the Yellowstone country.” The prisoner was then told that this was the place where Dutch Charlie was hung and he almost broke down. The leader of the mob then ordered them back and turned the prisoner over to the sheriff, and Big Nose George breathed freer. When he was seated in the car he slid down between the seats and burst into a hysterical fit of weeping. No. 3 pulled out, the whole performance occupying about 30 minutes, and everybody took in the dance after a slight intermission. Several parties here feel better satisfied since learning for a fact that Dutch Charlie was not hung innocently. The only wonder is that Big Nose George did not climb the golden stair via that route. Ignoramus. (The Carbon Journal, Aug. 10, 1880)
- Sunday August 8, 1880, the day after Parrott was almost lynched in Carbon
Big Nose George, after the scare of being lynched in Carbon the night before, arrived in Rawlins and was placed in jail by Sheriff Jim Rankin. (Carbon County Journal, 1880)
- Monday September 13, 1880, one year and eleven months after the murders
Big Nose George was arraigned in Rawlins for the murder of Bob Widdowfield and Tip Vincent. He pleaded GUILTY. (Carbon County Journal, 1880)
On Monday George Parrott, alias Big Nose George was arraigned on an indictment charging him and others with the willful murder of Widdowfield and Vincent, near Elk Mountain in August, '78. In answer to the question "Are you guilty or not guilty of things herein charged?" He answered, "Guilty." The Judge said: "Before accepting your plea I deem it my duty to explain to you the consequences of your plea, although your attorney has no doubt told you these things, in so serious a matter we should leave no room for doubt or misunderstandings. According to the law of this territory the penalty for murder in the first degree, of which you are charged in this indictment, is death by hanging by the neck, and such will be the consequence of the plea you seek to make. In view of these facts I ask you again George Parrott, are you guilty or not guilty of the things therein charged?" He answered, "I am guilty." Tears filled his eyes and ran down the checks of the prisoner as he pronounced these words and resumed his seat. The scene and the extremely unusual spectacle of a man pleading guilty to murder in the first degree visibly affected the court and all present. The judge instructed the prosecuting attorney to produce some evidences in court that Vincent and Widdowfield were really murdered before he would pass sentence on the prisoner. (Carbon County Journal, September 18, 1880)
Probably the most accurate description of the murders at Elk Mountain comes from the confession of one the gang members, George Francis Warden, better known as Big Nose George. He didn't have much of a reason to lie because he confessed and pled guilty to participating in the murders. A Journal reporter, in company with Sheriff Rankin, visited the jail Wednesday afternoon and interviewed Big Nose George, or George Francis Warden, as he gives his name. Warden, we should judge is a man about 35 years old, five feet ten inches tall, rather spare built and will weigh about 100 pounds, dark complexion, black hair and beard, sharp, rather piercing black eyes and a very prominent Roman nose, and really not as bad a looking fellow as one would expect. He was arrested at Miles City, Montana, July the 15th, and arrived here Sunday morning. Warden's story is as follows as near as we can give it from memory: Our party (consisting of Frank Toule, Mack, Dutch Charlie, Jack Campbell, Thomas Reed, Sim Wan and myself) we pulled the spikes that held the rail, but the crowbar being a short one we could not pry out the rail. We laid all day in a gully nearby and watched the section men at work. They did not discover the rail had been tampered with until just as they were about to leave in the evening. Two of our party went into Medicine Bow station and purchased provisions. When we left we proceed directly to Elk Mountain. The first we saw of Widdowfield and Vincent, they were about a mile off, but we shortly made out that they were men and were making directly for our camp. After a hurried consultation it was decided to hide our stock in the brush and conceal ourselves and let the men pass should they not be officers, and to kill them should they be such, as we expected they would say something to give us an idea as to who they were. They rode up the trail to our camp fire, when the large man (Widdowfield) got off of his horse and stuck his hand into the fire, remarking, "It is hot as h_ll, they have been here and we will catch them before long." One of our party had a lame horse for which he had been fixing a pair of shoes, and Widdowfield picked up the corks, which had been cut off, saying they were heads of railroad spikes. Frank Toule, one of our party, then said, "Let's fire," and loud enough for all to hear, part of us shooting at the man on the ground and part at the man on the horse. I fired at the man on the horse. After our volley the horses and rider ran about fifty yards when the latter fell off his horse, and attempted to get up, holding his gun in his hands. Some twenty shots were fired at him and firing only ceased when we were certain he was dead. Jack Campbell took Widdowfield's boots and Dutch Charlie the best saddle. After taking what valuables they had, we got scared and did not know what to do with the bodies, but finally concluded to carry them down in the brush and cover them up which we did. We immediately broke camp, came down the canyon the same way we went up and started north. We crossed the railroad at Carbon and the Platte River about two miles above the mouth of the Muddy. Sim Wan was the leader of the party, he being acquainted with the country. One of the party, called Mack, who was with us, claimed to be one of the James brothers. I left the party on Goose Creek where it broke up. (The Carbon County Journal, Aug. 7, 1880)
- Friday September 17, 1880, four days after pleading guilty to the murders
Big Nose George changed his plea to NOT GUILTY.
- November 8, 1880, one month and 26 days after pleading guilty
Big Nose George filed a motion for change of venue, which was denied by the court.
- Tuesday November 16, 1880, two months and three days after Parrott was arraigned and pled guilty
A special grand jury, called for by Judge Blair, was convened for Big Nose George. The court was scheduled to convene on Monday as announced, but the case of Territory vs. Martin Ainsley, a man charged for misbranding a horse, took all of the court time available on Monday. The case for Big Nose George was then moved to Tuesday.
- Wednesday November 17, 1880, the day after the special grand jury was called
Court convened at the usual hour, and the forenoon was consumed in the discussion of some trivial law points, dilatory motions, etc. At the afternoon session Judge Merrell came forward and took charge of the prosecution, the witnesses were called and sworn and, on motion of the defense, were separated. The afternoon was consumed in the examination of witnesses, all of which testimony was to show that a murder had been committed on the 20th day of August 1878, at Elk Mountain and that Widdowfield and Vincent came to their deaths at that place by reason of gunshot wounds, and the finding of the dead bodies. Mr. Leach, U.P. detective, was called to prove Big Nose's confession, which was substantially the same as that published in the JOURNAL two months ago. (Carbon County Journal, Nov. 20, 1880)
- December 15, 1880, two years, three months and twenty-six days after the murders
Big Nose George was found guilty of murder of Bob Widdowfield and Tip Vincent. He was sentenced to be "hanged by the neck until dead" on April 2, 1881. He would hang between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- March 22, 1881, three months and seven days after being found guilty of the murders
Big Nose George tried to escape from jail. He sawed through the rivets on his shackles and when Sheriff Robert Rankin came to check on him, Big Nose George hit him in the head with the shackles and ran for it. Sherriff Rankin’s wife, Rosa, bringing a meal to the prisoner discovered the attempted jailbreak and managed to get the jail door shut and locked. When the general public was alerted to the attempted jailbreak, a mob came running to help. The mob gained control of Big Nose George, took him from the jail to the streets of Rawlins and lynched him.
It is not clear if Dr. Osborne or Dr. Maghee was at the hanging of Big Nose George, but it is clear that they claimed the body afterward. Thomas Maghee, a doctor for the Union Pacific Railroad claimed the body for medical study. Maghee studied the outlaw’s brain. Big Nose George’s skull was cut into two halves. Maghee gave the top half or skull cap to his nurse, Lillian Heath, who later became Wyoming’s first female physician. The lower half of the skull placed in a whiskey barrel with the rest of his remains. Dr. Osborne wanted the outlaw’s body for experimental studies. He made a death mask of Big Nose George from plaster of paris. He also had the outlaw skinned and a pair of shoes and a physician’s bag made from the skin. It was also rumored, but not proven that he had the testicles made into a tobacco pouch.
Over time, Dr. Maghee established a professional relationship with the people of Carbon. He was a frequent visitor to treat the sick and treat serious mine injuries. Carbon was without a doctor until about 1882.
- January 7, 1881, two years and four months after the murders or five months after Big Nose George was arrested
William Schmalsle and William H. Irvine were each given $1000 as a reward for the apprehension of Big Nose George.
- 1890, twelve years after the murders
James Fisher, Richard Fisher's grandfather and brother-in-law to Bob Widdowfield, erected a monument at the spot Bob Widdowfield and Tip Vincent were killed on Elk Mountain.
James and others erected a stone memorial at the site of the murder of Robert Widdowfield and was said to visit every August 19. (Dan Kinnaman, Carbon)
The lettering on the two stones reads:
of Carbon Wyo
and Tip Vincent
August 19, 1878
John Osborne, Rawlins physician, wore the shoes made from Big Nose Georg’s skin to his inauguration as Wyoming’s Governor.
of Carbon Wyo
and Tip Vincent
August 19, 1878
- 1892, eleven years after Big Nose George was lynched
John Osborne, Rawlins physician, wore the shoes made from Big Nose Georg’s skin to his inauguration as Wyoming’s Governor.
- 1928, fifty years after the murders
Dr. Osborne donated the leg shackles worn by Big Nose George at the time he was lynched to the Union Pacific Railroad museum in Omaha, Nebraska.
- May 11, 1950, sixty-nine years after Big Nose George was lynched
Construction workers building a foundation for a new building at the corner of East Cedar and Fourth Street in Rawlins uncovered a whiskey barrel containing the remains of Big Nose George. The location was near the building that belonged to Dr. Maghee.
Osborne pickled his [Parrot’s] body in alcohol and used it for dissection purposes until he finally buried it in the alley back of his house. I kept the bandit’s skull top here for a long time as a memento of my training days. (Hubert Taped Interview)
In June 1884, Miss Lillie E. Heath was teaching in No. 5 mine school in Carbon. She was the daughter of William Heath who arrived in Rawlins in 1877. Lillian (1865-1962) remembered that when the family arrived in 1877, there was not a public school for her to go, so she was enrolled in a private school for a short time. She was teaching school at age 16 at Carbon and at Pass Creek and substituting at Rawlins, graduating from high school in 1888 at the age of twenty-three. She studied medicine with Dr. Thomas Maghee for five years, went to Boulder to study for a year and then Iowa for three years, graduating as a physician in 1893. She returned to Rawlins and practiced for fifteen years, with the office in the family home. She married Lou J. Nelson (1874-1986) in 1898 in Omaha. Lilian was also noted as a teacher in the 1910 Carbon census. (Kinnaman)
It was Lou Nelson, the husband of Dr. Lillian Heath, who brought the top part of the skull to the work site, helped Dr. Sturgis match the two parts. Five years later, in 1995, George Gill, a well-known anthropologist, and Wyoming State Archeologist Mark Miller, once again compared the halves of Big Nose George’s skull when they worked on a study of frontier violence with University of Wyoming graduate student Kristi McMahan. The study confirmed once again that the two parts matched and also the skin on Osborne’s shoes was indeed human. The skullcap and shackles are on display at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
The lower half of the skull, the plaster death mask and the shoes are on display at the Carbon County Museum in Rawlins, Wyoming.