Thursday, June 18, 2009

Judge Roy Bean, the Law West of the Pecos

Langtry, Texas-Pop. 30 (est.)
Judge Roy Bean, the self-appointed “Law West of the Pecos”, became a saloon keeper and Justice of the Peace on the Rio Grande in a desolate stretch of the Chihuahuan Desert of SW Texas. He held court when the Texas Rangers weren’t around.

Roy Bean found himself in trouble most of his life from Texas to California. He killed, stole, cheated, swindled, and abused his wife.

Young women considered Bean handsome, and often competed for his attention. In San Diego, a Scotsman named Collins challenged Bean to a pistol shooting match on horseback. He allowed Bean to choose the target, and Roy Bean decided they would shoot at each other. Bean shot Collins in the arm. The sheriff arrested both men and charged them with attempted murder. During the two months in jail, Bean received many gifts of flowers, food, wine, and cigars from the ladies of San Diego. The last gift included knives encased in tamales. He used the knives to dig through the cell wall.

In Southwest Texas by the Rio Grande, Langtry was established as a junction for construction from east and west during the building of the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio Railway. Two origins of the town’s name are under dispute. One claim is the town was named for a civil engineer named Langtry who directed a group of Chinese laborers in railroad construction. The other more popular and accepted claim is that Judge Roy Bean, an eccentric, colorful character, insisted he named the town after his idol, English actress Lillie Langtry, the “Jersey Lily.”
Today, a Texas Visitor’s Center sits next to the preserved 150-year-old-saloon in Langtry, Texas. The center is well-maintained, with clean restrooms, a snack area, landscaping, and a gift shop.
Celia Yeary—All My Hopes and Dreams


Maggie Toussaint said...

Enjoyed it, Celia!

Paty Jager said...

Fun information, Celia!

Teri Thackston said...

Terrific blog, Celia. Very informative. I love the Old West, too.

Cheryl said...

Hi Celia,

Great Post!!! Judge Roy Bean was something else, wasn't he? Very colorful and different--there was no one else like him.


Chiron said...

I've always been fascinated by Judge Roy Bean ever since I saw the movie starring Paul Newman ions ago. Fabulous to catch a glimpse of the real history! Thanks for a great post.

Chiron O'Keefe
The Write Soul:

PS... I'm buying your book today!

Pat McDermott said...
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Pat McDermott said...
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Pat McDermott said...

(Sorry for the deletions! Typos. I really need to get a new keyboard!) Very interesting and informative post, Celia. Can't help thinking of Paul Newman,but Paul cleaned the character up for the film. P prefer your grittier account of the good judge. And the knives in the tamales! Amazing how ladies go for the bad boys, isn't it?

Celia Yeary said...

Pat--yes, the ladies go for the bad boys--even I did when I was young and stupid! But then I found a good one, and I've kept him over 50 years, now. Uh-huh--we've been married 50 years.The knives in the tamales is the sentence that caught my eye--I laughed. Celia

liana laverentz said...

I'll never forget the movie, with Paul Newman :)

Heidiwriter said...

There has been a Jersey Lily bar & cafe at Ingomar, Montana all my life (named after Bean's establishment). I recently toured through Montana and was greatly disappointed to find that the Jersey Lily is closed now. It was a landmark of eastern Montana, and I hope it will reopen sometime.

Kathy Otten said...

I've been doing a lot of research on another famous judge during that time period, Judge Isaac Parker, the Hanging Judge. It would seem the two are polar opposites. Parker was a stickler for the law, and Judge Roy Bean, I heard would make up laws to suit his purpose or disregard them on a whim.
And somehow I missed that movie with Paul Newman. I don't know how, always loved Paul.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Judge Roy Bean--what a colorful scoundral he was. I bet he'd be turning over in his grave if he knew the kind of notoriety he's still generating. Enjoyed the post, Celia.

Lawmen and Outlaws--now available

Tony Eldridge said...

I am a big history buff. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! You have lit a fire in me to want to visit Langtry. Thanks for the info!

Celia Yeary said...

Thank you all for reading this little bit about Judge Roy Bean. You can find reams of informaiton about him. His reputation and exploits ranged far and wide.

I can't see Paul Newman cast as Bean,except for the handsome part. He's was never that mean.

I wonder about the connection between Montana and the Jersey Lily.Now, that's a character someone should write about.

Tony--we were in Langtry several years ago.You have to really want to go there to find it--it's on the way to nowhere.But to see the original saloon is something. You can walk into it. There's a very nice informaiton building, too.


Tanya Hanson said...

What a cool blog, Celia. I didn't realize ole' Roy had such a sketchy history!


Linda LaRoque said...

Enjoyed the post, Celia. We've visited Langry and it's an interesting place. Will probably visit again some day as we love that country.