Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

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Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Thu Feb 19, 2015 6:11 am

Thought I would start a thread on one of West Texas' most colorful characters, Judge Roy Bean, know as the law west of the Pecos.
The infamous Justice Of The Peace resided in Langtry, Texas, a hole in the wall town in Val Verde County that was named after
famous British singer Lillie Langtry of who Bean was very fond.

Bean fought in the Mexican War and was a blockade runner during the War Between the States. He later became a saloon-keeper in
Vinegaroon, Texas where he developed a taste for the law---and how to flaunt it. As judge, Bean relied on a single lawbook, the 1879
edition of the Revised Statutes of Texas. If there were any laws he disagreed with, Bean would merely tear the page out of the lawbook.
He once fined a man who had been killed in a street fight of loitering and then took the contents of his wallet in payment. He also acquitted
a man accused of killing a Chinese worker because he said he could find no law in the book against killing a "Chinaman". But he was not
100% rapscallion, for Bean did try to help the poor in his jurisdiction from the profits of his saloon, The Jersey Lily" (also named after
Lillie Langtry.) Although known as the "hanging judge", Bean in fact, only sentenced two men to hang and then let one off. While horse thieves
were usually hanged for the offense in other jurisdictions, Bean would let them off in his so long as the animals were returned.

More than several movies have been made about Bean's life including "The Westerner" with Walter Brennan as Bean and ""The Life And Times
Of Judge Roy Bean", with Paul Newman. "Streets Of Laredo" filmed in Alamo Village, also featured the famous judge as a character, while
one of the Kenny Rogers "Gambler" movies did, as well. Was that one filmed at the Village, Rich?

Anyway, here's the thread. Now it is left to the forum membership to fill it up.

Starting off is an August, 1966 photo of the Jersey Lily Saloon that I just acquired in a grab bag of old snapshots. I certainly hope it is better
maintained today.
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby RLC-GTT on Thu Feb 19, 2015 6:29 am

Love the sign. "No smoking. No dogs." Boy, the judge wouldn't like that! What about bears?
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby JoeFDNY146 on Thu Feb 19, 2015 6:48 am

I need a cold one!!!
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Thu Feb 19, 2015 6:52 am

When was this, Joe? Did they take down the wall around the Jersey Lily?!
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Thu Feb 19, 2015 6:53 am

RLC-GTT wrote:Love the sign. "No smoking. No dogs." Boy, the judge wouldn't like that! What about bears?

:D :lol:
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby JoeFDNY146 on Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:31 am

Similarly to the sand bar fight on a sand bar in the middle of
the Mississippi river, in 1897 judge Roy Bean held a boxing
match on a sandbar in the middle of the Rio Grand because it was illegal to hold
prize fights in either Texas or Mexico but in the middle of
the river, neither had jurisdiction, as an added note, this
was to have been the first fight filmed in kinetoscope but
the fight ended, knockout in 95 seconds, before they
could get the camera running. Two sandbar fights Joe
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby JoeFDNY146 on Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:35 am

Ned, This was June 2010 during my first visit to the Alamo Village Joe
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby JoeFDNY146 on Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:37 am

Ned, This was June 2010 during my first visit to the Alamo Village, there was no wall, I was inside both the bar and the poolroom Joe
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby JoeFDNY146 on Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:52 am

All that's left of the pool table, when I was there 2010 the WHOLE TOWN EVERYTHING EXCEPT THE POST OFFICE and the Roy Bean museum was for sale :D :D In Del Rio the museum is where he is buried and has more on the judge Joe
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby JoeFDNY146 on Thu Feb 19, 2015 8:03 am

RLC-GTT wrote:Love the sign. "No smoking. No dogs." Boy, the judge wouldn't like that! What about bears?



Rich, As you know, Roy had a soft spot for bears, here's a photo of Bruno, his pet bear, tied to the gate OUT FRONT of the bar, so maybe not, :lol: Joe
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Thu Feb 19, 2015 5:19 pm

Great stuff, Joe. Keep'em coming, if you've got more. Any photos of the rest of the town?

Here's a Jersey Lily replica in the Enchanted Springs Ranch Western town set and tourist trap in Boerne, Texas about 40 mile from me.
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:29 pm

Jersey Lilly Replica in Knotts Berry Farm Ghost Town, Buena Park, CA..
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby Alamo_Stu on Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:33 pm

We want Bad Bob! We want Bad Bob! :D
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby Seguin on Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:52 am

Pics of the judge and the Newman movie poster.
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:54 am

Looks like Marty!
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Fri Feb 20, 2015 4:37 am

The Jersey Lilly, Langtry, Texas.
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby RLC-GTT on Fri Feb 20, 2015 4:55 am

"Bad Bob!" LOL. "Come on out, Beano!" I never realized until after I worked with Stacy that he was the one who did that character opposite Paul Newman. Hilarious!
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Fri Feb 20, 2015 6:07 am

RLC-GTT wrote:"Bad Bob!" LOL. "Come on out, Beano!" I never realized until after I worked with Stacy that he was the one who did that character opposite Paul Newman. Hilarious!

Yes, that was a step out of character for Keach.
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Fri Feb 20, 2015 6:08 am

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Beer ad featurmng the Jersey Lilly.
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby JoeFDNY146 on Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:07 pm

Few more Joe
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby JoeFDNY146 on Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:13 pm

More
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby JoeFDNY146 on Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:48 pm

This is going off on a tangent a little bit but I think its of interest.The photos below show the Pecos river, looking from texas side of RG before the Del Rio dam and today. The Pecos has become more of a reservoir than a river from the water backing up the Rio Grande and its tributaries due to the dam they built in Del Rio across the Rio Grand. A little known and even less discussed is the fact that the backed up water has permanently changed the humidity in the surrounding areas, this in itself is not a big deal but the effects it has on the limestone caves is devastating.just to the east of the Pecos is a canyon that has wall paintings in caves that date back hundreds of years, this Native artwork has withstood the test of time up until the last 40 or so years, and due to the humidity change the limestone has begun flaking, and with the flakes falling off the walls so does the artwork If anyone is interested I'll post some before (only 1960/70s) and now, the amount of destruction is unbelievable, and as usual the politicians don't want to make any waves, no pun intended so while they discuss fixes the damage continues and is irreversible Joe
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Pecos and Rio Grande intersection
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby RLC-GTT on Sat Feb 21, 2015 7:05 am

Why can't I delete my post anymore if I want to? I wrote something in this post and realized it was wrong. When I looked for the delete button, it ain't! So I had to erase the words and am writing all this garbage so that it won't be a blank box. :evil:
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Sat Feb 21, 2015 7:39 am

RLC-GTT wrote:Why can't I delete my post anymore if I want to? I wrote something in this post and realized it was wrong. When I looked for the delete button, it ain't! So I had to erase the words and am writing all this garbage so that it won't be a blank box. :evil:

That is weird. Should be there, right next to the "edit" box.
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:30 am

One thing I thought was interesting about the Knotts Berry Farm replica of the Jersey Lilly is that it has Roy Bean's original death certificate displayed there.
Walter Knott was a collector of Western artifacts.
As a matter of fact, he'd bought and then restored the "ghost town" of Calico, a silver mining town that died
when the silver ran dry. Knott recreated Calico Ghost town in Buena Park which later became Knotts Berry Farm Amusement Park.
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby JoeFDNY146 on Sat Feb 21, 2015 9:02 am

Here is the judges and his sons tombstones in the rear of the museum in Del Rio Joe
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby Cole_blooded on Sun Feb 22, 2015 3:07 am

February 21 in Texas History…..

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Judge Roy Bean

Roy Bean stages a prize fight

On this day in 1896, colorful lawman Roy Bean staged a heavyweight championship fight on a sandbar just below Langtry, on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande. Bean, known as the "Law West of the Pecos," was appointed justice of the peace for Pecos County in 1882. He settled at Eagle's Nest Springs, which acquired a post office and a new name, Langtry, in honor of the English actress Lillie Langtry, whom Bean greatly admired. Bean soon became known as an eccentric and original interpreter of the law. When a man killed a Chinese laborer, for example, Bean ruled that his law book did not make it illegal to kill a Chinese. And when a man carrying forty dollars and a pistol fell off a bridge, Bean fined the corpse forty dollars for carrying a concealed weapon, thereby providing funeral expenses. He intimidated and cheated people, but he never hanged anybody. He reached his peak of notoriety with his staging of the match between Peter Maher of Ireland and Bob Fitzsimmons of Australia. The fight was opposed by civic and religious leaders such as Baptist missionary Leander Millican, and both the Mexican and the U.S. governments had prohibited it. Bean arranged to hold it on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, knowing the Mexican authorities could not conveniently reach the site, and that Woodford H. Mabry's Texas Rangers would have no jurisdiction. The spectators arrived aboard a chartered train; after a profitable delay contrived by Bean, the crowd witnessed Fitzsimmons's defeat of Maher in less than two minutes. Among the spectators was another somewhat disreputable lawman and boxing promoter, Bartholomew "Bat" Masterson.

…..Another chapter in Texas History

ROY BEAN (ca. 1825–1903). Roy Bean, a frontier justice of the peace known as the "Law West of the Pecos," was born in Mason County, Kentucky, the son of Francis and Anna Bean. The only sources of information about his boyhood and youth are stories told by friends in whom he confided and the reminiscences of his older brother Samuel, published in the Las Cruces, New Mexico, Rio Grande Republican in 1903. Sam came home after serving in the Mexican War and took Roy with him down the Santa Fe Trail to Chihuahua, Mexico, where the brothers set up shop as traders. Roy got into trouble, however, and had to make a quick exit; he turned up a short time later in San Diego at the home of his oldest brother, Joshua, who was mayor of the town and a major general of the state militia. Roy was jailed for dueling in February 1852 but broke out and moved on to San Gabriel, where Joshua by this time had established himself as owner of the Headquarters Saloon. Roy inherited the property when Joshua was murdered in November 1852, but made another hasty departure after a narrow escape from hanging in 1857 or 1858.

His next stop was Mesilla, New Mexico, where Sam was sheriff of a county that stretched at that time all the way across Arizona. Roy arrived destitute, but Sam took him in as partner in a saloon, and he prospered until the Civil War reached the Rio Grande valley. Bean may have had some unofficial military experience, but he found it prudent to leave the country and began a new life in San Antonio. In an area on South Flores Street that soon earned the name of Beanville, he became locally famous for circumventing creditors, business rivals, and the law.

On October 28, 1866, he married eighteen-year-old Virginia Chávez, who bore him four children. The couple were not happy together, however. Early in 1882 Roy left home, probably at the suggestion of his friend W. N. Monroe, who was building the "Sunset" railroad toward El Paso and had almost reached the Pecos. Moving with the grading camps, Bean arrived at the site of Vinegarroon, just west of the Pecos, in July. Crime was rife at the end of the track; it was often said, "West of the Pecos there is no law; west of El Paso, there is no God." To cope with the lawless element the Texas Rangersqv were called in, and they needed a resident justice of the peace in order to eliminate the 400-mile round trip to deliver prisoners to the county seat at Fort Stockton. The commissioners of Pecos County officially appointed Roy Bean justice on August 2, 1882. He retained the post, with interruptions in 1886 and 1896, when he was voted out, until he retired voluntarily in 1902.

By 1884 Bean was settled at Eagle's Nest Springs, some miles west of Vinegarroon, which acquired a post office and a new name, Langtry. Bean claimed credit for naming the town after English actress Emilie Charlotte (Lillie) Langtryqv, whom he greatly admired. Actually, railroad records indicate that the town was named for George Langtry, a railroad construction foreman. Bean's fame as an eccentric and original interpreter of the law began in the 1880s. There was, however, a sort of common sense behind his unorthodox rulings. When a track worker killed a Chinese laborer, for example, Bean ruled that his law book did not make it illegal to kill a Chinese. Since the killer's friends were present and ready to riot, he had little choice. And when a man carrying forty dollars and a pistol fell off a bridge, Bean fined the corpse forty dollars for carrying a concealed weapon, thereby providing funeral expenses. He intimidated and cheated people, but he never hanged anybody. He reached the peak of notoriety on February 21, 1896, when he staged the Fitzsimmons-Maher heavyweight championship fight on a sandbar just below Langtry on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, where Woodford H. Mabry's rangers, sent to stop it, had no jurisdiction. Fitzsimmons won in less than two minutes.

Bean died in his saloon on March 16, 1903, of lung and heart ailments and was buried in the Del Rio cemetery. His shrewdness, audacity, unscrupulousness, and humor, aided by his knack for self-dramatization, made him an enduring part of American folklore.

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Roy Bean

Roy Bean - The Law West of the Pecos

Judge Phantley Roy Bean (1825-1903) - Roy Bean was born in Mason County, Kentucky around 1825 to Phantley Roy and Anna Henderson Gore Bean. The youngest of three sons, the Kentucky family was very poor.

At the age of 15, he left Kentucky to follow his two older brothers west. With his brother, Sam, he joined a wagon train into New Mexico, then crossed the Rio Grande River and set up a trading post in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1848.

After killing a local man, Roy fled to San Diego, California where his brother, Joshua, lived.

On February 24, 1852, Bean was in a duel on horseback with a Scotsman named Collins. In the gunfight, Collins was shot in his right arm and both men were arrested for assault with intent to murder. Bean, who was considered brave and handsome by the local women, received numerous visits and gifts during his six-week stay in jail. When one of his admirers slipped him knives hidden in some tamales, Bean used them to dig through the cell wall and escaped on April 17th.

Next, he wound up in San Gabriel, California, where his brother Joshua owned a saloon called the Headquarters. When Joshua was killed in November, 1852, Bean inherited the saloon and began to operate it.
While there, Bean killed a Mexican official during an argument over a woman. Friends of the official soon hauled Bean off, lynched him and left him to die. However, he was saved by the young woman who had been the cause of the dispute. For the rest of his life, he sported a permanent rope burn on his neck, which constantly felt stiff.

Before long, he was back in New Mexico, where he again lived with his brother Sam who had become the sheriff in Mesilla.

During the Civil War, the Texas army invaded New Mexico and Bean soon joined them, hauling supplies for the Confederates and living in San Antonio. On October 28, 1866, he married eighteen-year-old Virginia Chavez, but the couple were not happy together. Just a year into the marriage, Bean was arrested for aggravated assault on his wife. However, despite their differences, the couple would eventually have four children. For the next decade, the family lived in a Mexican slum area on South Flores Street in San Antonio that soon earned the name of Beanville. During these years, he worked at a number of professions including teamster, saloon operator, running a dairy business, and other entrepreneurial enterprises that were obviously not very successful, as he became known for circumventing creditors, business rivals, and the law.

By the early 1880's, Bean and his wife were separated and he sold all his possessions and left San Antonio, wandering about the railroad camps before finally landing in west Texas near the Pecos River. In the early 1880'a the Southern Pacific Railroad was working hard to to overcome its last obstacle of completing its transcontinental route -- crossing the Pecos River. A construction camp formed near the railroad bridge site, which was called Vinegarroon, named for a for a type of scorpion found in the area, that emits a vinegar-like odor when it is alarmed. The community was founded in 1881, serving as a temporary home for thousands of railroad workers and Roy Bean quickly established a small saloon in the tent city.

On July 5, 1882, Texas Ranger Captain T. L. Oglesby penned a note to his commanding officer General King describing the area:

Eagle Nest, Pecos County, Texas
July 5, 1882

Upon my arrival here on June 29th, I proceeded to visit all the railroad camps and scout the country thoroughly. There is the worst lot of roughs, gamblers, robbers, and pickpocketed, collected here I ever saw, and without the immediate presence of the state troops this class would prove a great detriment towards the completion of the road.

There is nothing for Rangers to do but hold this rough element in subjection and control them. The majority of the railroad camps are in Pecos County. This immediate section being 200 miles from Fort Stockton, the nearest jurisdiction Court of Justice and the consequent minor offences go unpunished; but, I hope to remedy that in a few days by having a Magistrate appointed for the precinct.

When it became known that a Justice of the Peace was wanted for the area, Roy Bean was quick to volunteer and on August 2, 1882, he became the only "legal authority" in the area. He first operated his "justice" out of his tent saloon in Vinegarroon, Texas another railroad camp to the south of Langtry.With the nearest court 200 miles away at Fort Stockton, he quickly became the self-proclaimed "Only Law West of the Pecos."

An unusual sort of "judge" from the beginning, one of his first judicial acts was to shoot up the saloon of a Jewish competitor. Holding court in his saloon, he utilized a single law book -- the 1879 edition of the Revised Statutes of Texas. His methods of justice, carried out in his combination saloon/courtroom, were somewhat odd and always final. During construction of the bridge at Vinegarroon. a structure collapsed and ten workers fell. Judge Roy Bean was called to the site to hold an inquest. Riding on a mule to the accident, he pronounced all ten men dead; however, only seven of them had actually been killed. When questioned on this point, the judge reasoned that the others would soon die and that he did not want to make the trip twice. Fortunately, for the three men, he was wrong, and they survived to tell the tale.

By December, 1882, railroad construction had ended on the bridge and Vinegarroon was abandoned. Bean then headed northwest to the railroad camp of Eagle Nest (later called Langtry.) There, he quickly set up another tent saloon on railroad land, to the chagrin of Cezario Torres, who owned most of the land beside the railroad right-of-way. He later built a wooden structure for his saloon, which he called the "Jersey Lilly," after the well-known British stage actress Lillie Langtry. Her real last name was actually Emilie Le Breton and she was not related to George Langtry, of whom the town was named. Bean used the saloon as his headquarters and courtroom, and continued his eccentric judicial antics.

On one occasion when the body of a dead cowboy was found in the area, which held $40 and a six-gun, he charged the corpse with carrying a concealed weapon and fined it $40. On another case, when an an Irishman named Paddy O'Rourke was going to be tried for shooting a Chinese laborer, a mob of 200 angry Irishmen surrounded the courtroom and threatened to lynch Bean if O'Rourke was not freed. In response, Bean ruled that "homicide was the killing of a human being; however, he could find no law against killing a Chinaman" and the case was dismissed.

Despite the protest of Texas Rangers , Bean thought it preposterous to forbid a man to carry a weapon. One man who was arrested and accused of carrying concealed weapon was released by Bean with the following logic.

"That charge won't stick," pronounced the judge. "If he was standing still when he was arrested he wasn't carrying weapons because he wasn't going no place. And, if he was not standing still, he was traveling, and it's legal for travelers to carry weapons. Case dismissed."

Jurors for his cases were chosen from his best bar customers and Bean allowed no hung juries or appeals. Because Langtry had no jail, all cases were settled by fines, most of which just happened to be the amount the accused had on his person. Of these fines collected, he was never known to have sent any of the money to the state, but, rather pocketed the cash.

Though later portrayed in Western films and books as a "hanging judge," Bean only sentenced two men to hang, one of which escaped. And, in fact, when it came to horse thieves, who were often sentenced to hang, they would be let go under Judge Roy Bean if they returned the horses, and of course, paid a fine. Bean also made money from granting divorces, which he didn't have the jurisdiction to do, and married numerous couples, always ending the wedding ceremonies with the words, "and may God have mercy on your souls."

Bean was defeated in the election of 1886, but the very next year a new precinct was created after Langtry had become part of Val Verde County and he was appointed once again as the new justice of the peace. He continued to be elected until 1896, when he was finally defeated. However, in typical "Bean" fashion, he refused to surrender his seal and law book and continued to try all cases north of the railroad tracks.

In 1896, Judge Roy Bean made national headlines by setting up a boxing match in Langtry. Because Texas had outlawed boxing, he scheduled the heavyweight fight between Robert James Fitzsimmons and Peter Maher, to be held on a sandbar on Mexico's side of the Rio Grande River, just south of Langtry. Bean then made arrangements for the press, spectators, and Texas Rangers to travel by train from El Paso to Langtry. Fitzsimmons knocked Maher out in 95 seconds, winning the heavyweight title.

Lillie LangtryFor years, he boasted of his "acquaintance with Miss Langtry ," telling anyone and everyone that he would one day meet her. When he built a home for himself behind the saloon, he even called it the “Opera House” in anticipation of a visit by the famous actress. Though he never met Lillie Langtry , he often wrote her, and she allegedly wrote him back and sent him two pistols, which he cherished for the rest of his life. He also claimed credit for naming the town after her, even though it was not the case.

As he aged, Bean spent much of his time on his porch with a shotgun in his arms and doing a lot of drinking and boasting. However, he was also known to help the poor in the area.

After a heavy bout of drinking, Bean died in his saloon on March 16, 1903 of lung and heart ailments without ever having met his fantasy woman Lillie Langtry . He was initially buried in Westlawn Cemetery in Del Rio, Texas, but due to the numerous visitors to his grave, he and his son, Samuel, were later re-interred behind the Whitehead Memorial Museum.

Almost a year after his death, Lillie Langtry finally visited his old home. En route from New Orleans to Los Angeles, she stopped to listen to the townspeople tell the stories of Judge Roy Bean. Of the visit, she would later write, "It was a short visit, but, an unforgettable one."

The Jersey Lilly Saloon still stands in Langtry, Texas today, along with his home and a museum.

TEN THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT JUDGE ROY BEAN

by John Troesser

1. Roy Bean married 15 year-old Virginia Chavez in San Antonio on 10-28-1866. Their union brought forth four Beanitos: Roy Jr., Sam, Laura and Zulema. They also adopted a son named John. It was Roy's first and last marriage. They divorced around 1880 and Roy left her in San Antonio while he went South.

2.. In the pre-Langtry days in San Antonio, Roy Bean used to haul and sell milk. In order to increase profits, he added creek water to the milk. When the buyers started noticing minnows in the milk, Roy seemed as surprised as the buyers. "By Gobs," he said, "I'll have to stop them cows from drinking out of the creek."

3.In 1882 Roy Bean was appointed Justice of the Peace for Precinct 6, (then Pecos - now Val Verde County). Roy Bean may have been a heavy drinker and a shady character, but he came highly recommended by Texas Rangers, who felt he "had what it would take" to bring the law "West of the Pecos."

4. Bean enjoyed his tough reputation and he kept his kindness hidden. Throughout the years, he took some of the fines and much of the collected goods and gave them to the poor and destitute of the area, doing so without it being known. He even took monies collected in the Jersey Lilly, - his own trackside saloon and used them to buy medicine for the sick and poor in and around Langtry.

5. Explaining why he had helped so many people, Roy Bean explained it this way to his friend: "Well Dodd, I haven't been any gol-dang angel myself and there might be a lot charged up to me on Judgment Day; and I figure what good I can do-the Lord will give me credit when the time comes." He was very sincere in this belief and it was the sum and total of any religious statement from Roy Bean.

6. An owner of a Langtry restaurant owed Bean money and when he didn't pay, Bean waited until the restaurant was full, then he then took his place by the door and had each customer pay him for their meal. The last few customers paid the interest.

7. Bean has often been confused with "hanging judge" Parker of Ft. Smith - (perhaps because their slightly unorthodox or creative sentencing). Bean never actually hanged anyone, although he occasionally "staged" hangings to scare criminals. Bean would prepare a script with his "staff" - if they were sober enough - which allowed for the prisoner to escape. Given this "second-chance" - the culprits never appeared before the court again.

8. Bean never sentenced anyone to the penitentiary. If ANYTHING needing doing in Langtry - the prisoner would do it. If there was nothing to be done, the prisoner could take it easy by simply being staked out in the sun.

9. Nearly everyone has heard the story of Bean fining a dead man $40 - the exact amount that in the corpse's pocket. Less known is the fact that the $40 bought a casket, headstone and paid the gravedigger's labor. He did, however, keep the man's gun for use as a gavel.

10. Roy Bean died at 10:03pm March 19, 1903 after a heavy drinking spree in Del Rio. He returned home at 10 a.m. and died that night at 10 p.m. The real reason he died, was he simply lost the will to live. Bean could not adjust to modern times. The thing that sent him on his binge was the start of construction on a power plant on the Pecos River. He used to say that times were changing and he was being left behind.

Judge Roy Bean

Law West of the Pecos - The Hanging Judge

Judge Roy BeanOf the many colorful characters who have become legends of the Old West, "Hanging Judge Roy Bean," who held court sessions in his saloon along the Rio Grande River in a desolate stretch of the Chihuahuan Desert of West Texas, remains one of the more fascinating.

According to the myth, Roy Bean named his saloon and town after the love of his life, Lily Langtry, a British actress he'd never met. Calling himself the "Law West of the Pecos," he is reputed to have kept a pet bear in his courtroom and sentenced dozens to the gallows, saying "Hang 'em first, try 'em later." Like most such legends, separating fact from fiction is not always so easy.
Western Ramblings

Roy Bean was born in Mason County, Kentucky about 1825. At age 15 he left home to follow two older brothers west seeking adventure. With Brother Sam, he joined a wagon train into New Mexico, then crossed the Rio Grande and set up a trading post in Chihuahua, Mexico. After killing a local hombre, Roy fled to California, to stay with his brother Joshua, who would soon become the first mayor of San Diego.

There, Roy developed a reputation for bragging, dueling and gambling on cockfights. Mayor Josh Bean appointed Roy a lieutenant in the state militia and bartender of the Headquarters, his own saloon. In 1852, Roy was arrested after wounding a man in a duel. He escaped, and after Mayor Josh was killed a few months later by a rival in a romantic triangle, Roy headed back to New Mexico where brother Sam Bean had become a sheriff.

Roy tended bar in Sam's saloon for several years while smuggling guns from Mexico through the Union blockade during the Civil War. Afterward, he married a Mexican teenager and settled in San Antonio, where throughout the 1870s, he supported 5 children by peddling stolen firewood and selling watered-down milk. His notorious business practices eventually earned his San Antonio neighborhood the nickname Beanville.

West of the Pecos

In 1882, the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railroad hired crews to link San Antonio with El Paso, Texas across 530 miles of scorching Chihuahuan Desert, infested with bobcats, rattlesnakes and scorpions (locally called vinegaroons by local Texans). Fleeing his marriage and illegal businesses in San Antonio, Roy headed to Vinegaroon to become a saloonkeeper, serving railroad workers whiskey from a tent. As his own best customer, he was often drunk and disorderly.

But with the nearest courtroom a week's ride away, County Commissioners were eager to establish some sort of local law enforcement. They appointed Roy Bean Justice of the Peace for Precinct No. 6, Pecos County, Texas. Roy was just crazy, or drunk enough to accept. He packed up and moved north from Vinegaroon to a small tent city on a bluff above the Rio Grande named Langtry in honor of a railroad boss who had run the Southern Pacific's tracks through it.

The name also happened to belong to a beautiful British actress, Lillie Langtry Roy had read about and become enchanted with. Roy built a small saloon and named it the Jersey Lilly (Lillie's moniker) which also served as his home. He hung a tattered picture of Miss Lillie behind the bar, and above the door, posted signs proclaiming "ICE COLD BEER" and "LAW WEST OF THE PECOS." From here Roy Bean began dispensing liquor, justice and various tall tales, including that he himself had named the town for actress Lillie Langtry.

Dispenser of "Justice"

Roy Bean's justice was not complicated by legalities; it was characterized by greed, prejudice, a little common sense and lots of colorful language. "It is the judgment of this court that you are hereby tried and convicted of illegally and unlawfully committing certain grave offenses against the peace and dignity of the State of Texas, particularly in my bailiwick," was a typical Bean ruling. "I fine you two dollars; then get the hell out of here and never show yourself in this court again. That's my rulin'."

One of Bean's most outrageous rulings occurred when an Irishman was accused of killing a Chinese worker. Friends of the accused threatened to destroy the Jersey Lilly if he was found guilty. Court in session, Bean browsed through his law book, turning page after page, searching for another legal precedent. Finally, rapping his pistol on the bar, he proclaimed, "Gentlemen, I find the law very explicit on murdering your fellow man, but there's nothing here about killing a Chinaman. Case
dismissed."

In legend, Judge Roy Bean is a merciless dispenser of justice, often called "The Hangin' Judge." But that title goes to Isaac Parker of Fort Smith, Arkansas, who sentenced 172 men to hang and actually strung up 88 of them. In his book "Judge Roy Bean Country," Jack Skiles says that although Bean threatened to hang hundreds, "there's no evidence to suggest that Judge Roy Bean ever hung anybody." One or two were sentenced and taken to the gallows, but allowed to escape.

Despite his self-serving antics, Roy was duly elected to the office in 1884 and often reelected, so that between 1882 and 1902, most of Roy's bizarre rulings were the law. Except for an occasional murder, his cases consisted mostly of misdemeanor counts of drunkenness and the crimes of smalltime con men like himself.

Roy spent most of his days sitting on the porch of his saloon, with rifle handy. In his spare time, he served customers. His favorites were railroad passengers, desperate for something to drink while the train took on water. Bean served them quickly, then lingered before giving them their change. When the train's warning whistle blew, customers swore and demanded their change. Roy then fined them the exact amount and sent them cursing back to their railroad cars.
Birth of a Legend

In 1898, prizefighting had become illegal in most Western states, as it was in Mexico, and promoters could find nowhere to hold the world championship title bout between Bob Fitzsimmons and Peter Maher. On February 22, the Jersey Lilly was packed with 200 fight fans who, after a few rounds of drinks, followed Roy to a bridge he built to a sand bar in the Rio Grande River. While Texas Rangers watched the makeshift ring helplessly from atop the bluff, Fitzsimmons decked Maher in only 95 seconds. After returning to the saloon for more drinks, the fans and sportswriters headed for El Paso, where news stories were filed to papers throughout the U.S.

This event launched the birth of the Roy Bean legend, which burgeoned after continued newspaper and dime novel accounts of his exploits, many fabricated by Roy himself. The myth of Roy Bean eventually became part of Texas folklore. In 1936, the Texas Centennial Fairgrounds displayed replicas of Roy's saloon and office. In 1940, Walter Brennan received an academy award for his portrayal of Roy Bean opposite Gary Cooper. In 1956, Edgar Buchanan played him in a weekly TV series, and in the 1972, Paul Newman portrayed him in the movie, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean.

Miss Lillie

For years, Roy boasted of his "acquaintance with Miss Langtry," and promised locals she would one day arrive and sing in Langtry. In 1896, after his first saloon was destroyed by fire, Roy rebuilt the Jersey Lilly and constructed a home for himself across the street, which he called the Opera House, anticipating the day when Lillie would perform there. Roy never met Miss Lillie, but he often wrote her, and she is purported to have written back, even sending him 2 pistols, which he cherished till his dying day.

Contrary to the Larry McMurtry novel and movie Streets Of Laredo, Roy was not gunned down by a Mexican outlaw on the steps of the Jersey Lilly. In March 1903, Roy went on a drinking binge in Del Rio and simply died peacefully in his bed the following morning.

Ten months later, the Southern Pacific stopped at Langtry and finally disgorged Lillie herself on the way from New Orleans to San Francisco. She had decided to take the judge up on his invitation. She visited the saloon and listened as locals told her how Roy Bean had fined a corpse, freed a murderer and lined his pockets by shortchanging train passengers. "It was a short visit," Lillie later wrote in her autobiography, "but an unforgettable one."
Langtry Today

These days, almost 100,000 sightseers visit Langtry each year. Tourists from all over the world arrive by car, train and tour bus, seeking the romance of the American West. "Where's your hangin' tree?" is their most common question. But from the steps of the Jersey Lily saloon, one can only see the remnants of an old mesquite tree, a dozen sad and dusty buildings and the hot, unforgiving Chihuahuan Desert all about. The nearest courtroom is in Del Rio, 50 miles away.
--Bob Katz
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:07 pm

Hey Joe, this photo from 1966 looks an awful lot like your old photo of the Pecos you posted above. Is it?
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby JoeFDNY146 on Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:50 pm

Ned the dam was built in 1969, so it wasn't till the early 80s that the water backed up this far. The Armistead reservoir had to fill first. The top photo is from the overlook on the east side of the Pecos just south of the bridge rt90 , the other is from the bridge, my photos above with the wall in the foreground is from the overlook Joe
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby TexianAtHeartII on Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:02 am

NefariousNed wrote:Thought I would start a thread on one of West Texas' most colorful characters, Judge Roy Bean, know as the law west of the Pecos.
The infamous Justice Of The Peace resided in Langtry, Texas, a hole in the wall town in Val Verde County that was named after
famous British singer Lillie Langtry of who Bean was very fond.

Bean fought in the Mexican War and was a blockade runner during the War Between the States. He later became a saloon-keeper in
Vinegaroon, Texas where he developed a taste for the law---and how to flaunt it. As judge, Bean relied on a single lawbook, the 1879
edition of the Revised Statutes of Texas. If there were any laws he disagreed with, Bean would merely tear the page out of the lawbook.
He once fined a man who had been killed in a street fight of loitering and then took the contents of his wallet in payment. He also acquitted
a man accused of killing a Chinese worker because he said he could find no law in the book against killing a "Chinaman". But he was not
100% rapscallion, for Bean did try to help the poor in his jurisdiction from the profits of his saloon, The Jersey Lily" (also named after
Lillie Langtry.) Although known as the "hanging judge", Bean in fact, only sentenced two men to hang and then let one off. While horse thieves
were usually hanged for the offense in other jurisdictions, Bean would let them off in his so long as the animals were returned.

More than several movies have been made about Bean's life including "The Westerner" with Walter Brennan as Bean and ""The Life And Times
Of Judge Roy Bean", with Paul Newman. "Streets Of Laredo" filmed in Alamo Village, also featured the famous judge as a character, while
one of the Kenny Rogers "Gambler" movies did, as well. Was that one filmed at the Village, Rich?

Anyway, here's the thread. Now it is left to the forum membership to fill it up.

Starting off is an August, 1966 photo of the Jersey Lily Saloon that I just acquired in a grab bag of old snapshots. I certainly hope it is better
maintained today.


Ned, don't forget, there was a 50's tv show called Judge Roy Bean, starring the great Edgar Buchanan as the judge. He looked quite a bit the part.

http://www.imdb.com/media/rm567909376/t ... f_=tt_ov_i
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby MartyB on Sun May 31, 2015 7:46 pm

Of interest...

Haven't seen this one before...A cabinet card of Judge Roy Bean in front of the 'Jersey Lilly' - "THE LAW WEST OF THE PECOS."

Wonderful cabinet card depicting Judge Roy Bean standing outside his saloon/courtroom with a group of local lawmen (one of whom wears a Colt single action and a large-frame double action revolver, as well as a suspension badge), an unknown dignitary, local Mexicans, a few young children, and what appears to be a legless woman (actually a child) sitting on a bicycle...

Photographed circa 1890 by an unknown photographer...
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Mon Jun 01, 2015 12:05 am

Thanks, Marty. Very cool.
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby Seguin on Mon Jun 01, 2015 1:37 am

Look at the guy next to Bean with two revolvers stuck in his pants. Talk about posing! :D
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby RLC-GTT on Mon Jun 01, 2015 2:44 am

I love it! But that isn't the same building. No windows flanking the door and it has a totally different kind of roof -- no ridgepole, just a point. Wonder what that's all about.
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby RLC-GTT on Mon Jun 01, 2015 3:04 am

Here is a photo from Charles Ramsdell's excellent and history-solid 1959 book San Antonio - A Historical and Pictorial Guide. This house supposedly still stands (or did in 1959) across the river from Mission Concepcion at 407 Glenn Ave. According to Ramsdell, it may date before 1810 "when the parish priest owned a ranch between the mouths of the San Pedro and Concepcion Creeks... In the 1870's, Roy Bean, later Judge Bean, 'Law West of the Pecos,' had a dairy here. When the customers found minnows in the milk, he complained that his cows kept lapping them up from the river."
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby RLC-GTT on Mon Jun 01, 2015 4:12 am

Well, I just searched for it on Google Maps (about worthless when compared to Google Earth 3D) and could not find it. There is both
East and West Glenn Ave. divided by S. Flores St., but I can't find the house on either end -- unless it is bathed in trees as a few lots are (but I don't think so).
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Sun Jun 14, 2015 8:38 am

Image
At the Jersey Lilly replica at the Institute of Texas Culture during yesterday's Texas Folklife Festival in San Antonio.
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Sun Jun 14, 2015 8:40 am

Image
The judge himself arrived a few moments later.
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby Seguin on Tue Jun 16, 2015 2:41 am

NefariousNed wrote:Image
At the Jersey Lilly replica at the Institute of Texas Culture during yesterday's Texas Folklife Festival in San Antonio.


Cool! It´s Judge Ned Bean. :D
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Re: Judge Roy Bean: Law West Of The Pecos

Postby NefariousNed on Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:00 am

Image
My brother Bruce standing in for the judge at Knotts Berry Farm's replica of the Jersey Lilly in Ghost Town this past Christmas holiday.
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