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Thread: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

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    Default Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Judge Roy Bean, the Law West of the Pecos, was a character in many early western movies such as “The Westerner” starring Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan. The judge is not a fictional character though, he really lived. The last decades of the 1800's were eventful times with distant sections of the country being stitched together by steel rails. New towns and tent camps of construction gangs sprang up at the end of the rail lines. They were wild, lawless places, crowded with railroad workers and those who preyed on them – thieves, card sharks and “painted women.” By 1882, the situation was so bad that the railroad asked for help from the Texas Rangers. With the closest legal authority more than 100 miles away in Fort Stockton, Texas, the railroad and the Texas Rangers urged the appointment of a Justice of the Peace.
    Roy Bean was proprietor of a “store” in Vinegroon, a tent-topped consruction camp named after whip-tailed scorpions that infested the area. He became the first Justice of the Peace for Pecos County (now Val Verde County) on August 2, 1882. The lawlessness created such a desperate need for legal authority that Bean, never one to stand on ceremeony, tried his first case the week before officially assuming the post. The next year, Bean moved his court to the new railroad-sponsored town of Langtry, Texas. There, with the railroad and Rangers to back him up, he established a colorful brand of justice that made him the “Law West of the Pecos.”
    The judge's law library consisted of a single volume of an 1879 copy of the Revised Statutes of Texas. He seldom consulted it, however, calling instead on his own ideas about the brand of justice which should apply. Since Langtry had no jail, all offenses were deemed finable with Bean pocketing the fines. Drunken prisoners often were chained to mesquite trees in front of the building until they sobered up enough to stand trial.
    Many Roy Bean tales center on his fascination for the famous English actress Lillie Langtry, internationally known as “the Jersey Lily.” So great was his admiration that he named his establishment after her. An itinerant sign painter commissioned (for food and drink) to letter Bean's sing misspelled “Lily” and the ancient sign still proclaims “The Jersey Lilly.” Roy Bean never met his idol, though he may have seen her perform in San Antonio. He nailed a sign on his home delaring it “Opera House, Town Hall and Seat of Justice,” hoping the actress would perform there someday. He wrote her numerous letters, which she apparently did not acknowledge until Bean wrote that he named the town for her. She finally accepted his invitation to visit “her” town, but that visit did not take place until 1904, several months after the judge died.
    Railroad historians claim Langtry was named for one of their construction foremen, but no one told Miss Langtry that.
    The Jersey Lilly and Roy Bean's home still stand as they did when Roy Bean presided there.




    The exterior view of the Jersey Lilly. This was a two room building with the left side being the bar and court room and the right side being a pool hall.







    The interior of the bar room, looking in both directions.








    The interior of the pool hall. The pool table has since disappeared, but its legs remain sitting in a corner. Judge Roy Bean died in this room on 16 March, 1903.





    Judge Bean's home. I was a one room building. In one corner was his bed and the stove occupied another corner.




    Interior view of Bean's home.
    Good shooting,
    English Bob

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Very nice set and story to boot. I sometimes think they had the right Idea of taken care of the bad guys.


    Chuck

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    By all accounts he was quite a character, EB! I stopped by there on my way to Big Bend back in......gosh, guess it was 1982. Looks like it hasn't changed any, and you've captured it well.
    Nate

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Thank you. I agree about how to take care of the bad guys.
    Good shooting,
    English Bob

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Thank you. I had no idea that place still existed. I happened to come across some information about it by accident last month, so decided to stop there to see whatever remained.
    Good shooting,
    English Bob

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Quote Originally Posted by E B View Post
    Thank you. I agree about how to take care of the bad guys.
    Interesting set of photos and story, EB. I like the room with the wood ceiling.
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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    A very nicely captured series EB.
    Thanks for sharing
    If people don't occasionally walk away from you shaking their heads,
    you're doing something wrong." —John Gierach



    Jim
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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Nice series, it brings back memories of my youth. No, I wasn't a gunslinger in Texas, but an avid reader of comics. The great Belgian series Lucky Luke had one story which was based the history of Judge Roy Bean. The original title is Le Juge. Great story.
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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Quote Originally Posted by tomsi42 View Post
    Nice series, it brings back memories of my youth. No, I wasn't a gunslinger in Texas, but an avid reader of comics. The great Belgian series Lucky Luke had one story which was based the history of Judge Roy Bean. The original title is Le Juge. Great story.
    I was going to mention that, sometime's you're unbarable Tom!

    For good measure, he's also mentioned in Don Rosas The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, companion, in the story "The Prisoner of White Agony Creek".

    Lovely shots, I'd very much like to go there once.
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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Just for you EB.....
    Again another member and I have tread the same path.......
    Years apart.

    http://www.pbase.com/milsuper/image/36043642

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Thank you. That is an interesting ceiling. I didn't notice how it was constructed until I got home and was processing the pictures.
    Good shooting,
    English Bob

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Thank you. I don't normally put so many images in a single post but I just didn't want to split these up.
    Good shooting,
    English Bob

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Makes you wonder how many of our mythic heroes are based on reality.
    Good shooting,
    English Bob

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Thank you. Seeing the pictures is better than going there. It's desert country near the Pecos/Rio Grand rivers. Langtry is little better than a ghost town now. On the bright side, if you do decide to go, there there is a Texas state park nearby in which I camped. I think all of the Texas parks have Wifi now so you can stay connected. Also, I saw quite a bit of Texas highways with experimental speed limits of 80 MPH so you can get around a little easier now.
    Good shooting,
    English Bob

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    I'm tempted to say that great minds think alike but know I can't legitimately claim that fame. Interesting, though, to see how the different cameras captured the same scene.
    Good shooting,
    English Bob

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Very nice shots, almost makes me want to detour that way when we head for San Antonio next week and the start of our 2-month vacation. It would add an hour plus to the leg out of Van Horn, so I guess we'll see how we feel once we get to Van Horn for the first stop.
    Cheers, Dave

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    Default EB....are you still near Val Verde?

    There arena couple other places that have great photo ops nearby.

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    If you're that close I'd suggest it's worth the stop. And as I mentioned, there is a state park close by and it has electrical hookups if whatever rig you've got needs them.
    Good shooting,
    English Bob

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    Default Re: EB....are you still near Val Verde?

    Sadly no, I'm no longer there. I stayed there 5-6 May.
    Good shooting,
    English Bob

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Quote Originally Posted by E B View Post
    If you're that close I'd suggest it's worth the stop. And as I mentioned, there is a state park close by and it has electrical hookups if whatever rig you've got needs them.
    No rig, just a van and motels, military bases when we can. I'm hoping to get in at Ft Sam Houston for a night and then Keesler AFB in MS for 3 nights along the way. I haven't even checked bases further south in Texas since we'll be dropping down to the Laguna Astacosa Preserve south of Corpus Christi, my wife wants to see a Green Jay. I imagine there are some naval bases down that way.
    Cheers, Dave

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Ahh, well I live in a tent when traveling. Helps with an "away from it all" attitude for me.
    Good shooting,
    English Bob

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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Loved this story - and the pics.

    Puts all those movies and tv series into perspective.
    Terry
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    Default Re: Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos"

    Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it.
    Good shooting,
    English Bob

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