The story about the outlaw Big Nose George Parott has fascinated me since I was a young child growing up in Rawlins, Wyoming. His lynching in that community in 1881 remains one of the most talked about events in our early history. When I found out that one of my ancestors played a role in those events, I knew I would have to write about it someday.
Residents elected my great-grandfather, Isaac C. (Ike) Miller as Carbon County Sheriff in
1880 while Parott sat in the county jail a convicted murderer. Parott was one of eight gang members who killed Deputy Robert Widdowfield and railroad detective Tip Vincent in 1878 in a remote canyon adjacent to Elk Mountain. Two years later, authorities arrested Parott in Montana and brought him back to Rawlins to stand trial.
The judge ordered Ike to hang the outlaw on April 2, 1881, but Parott made a desperate
jail break attempt on March 22 when the sheriff was away in the Sand Creek country. Rosa
Rankin, wife of the jailer, foiled the escape attempt, locking a corridor door that confined Parott in the cell area. That night, a gang of masked vigilantes broke him out of jail and took him to a telegraph pole where they hanged him.