On this day in 1881, outlaw Big Nose George Parrot was lynched in Wyoming after a failed jailbreak. Afterward, Parrot’s body was claimed by Doctors Thomas Maghee and John Osborne, who intended to study the man’s brain for clues to his criminality. In the process, the top of Parrot’s skull was removed and given to his medical assistant, 16-year-old Lillian Heath, as a souvenir. Lillian Heath used it as an ashtray, doorstop, and penholder. Lillian Heath would become Wyoming’s first female doctor and one of the first to practice medicine west of the Mississippi.

However, the desecration of George Parrot was just beginning. Skin from the dead man’s thighs and chest was tanned and used to make a medical bag and pair of shoes. Doctor John Osborne would later be elected as Wyoming’s 3rd governor, famously wearing the human skin shoes to his inaugural ball. The rest of the remains were kept in a whiskey barrel with a salt solution for over a year while the experiments continued. Eventually, the barrel and remains were buried in the lot behind Maghee’s office.

The barrel was discovered again in 1950, and the body was identified by Lillian Heath, then in her 80s, who still possessed the top of George Parrot’s skull. The “ashtray” was a perfect fit for the missing portion of the skull.