Alston in front of The Jersey Lilly Saloon in 1930|
courtesy Colin Patterson
Roy Bean Visitor Center (915-291-3340)
is open daily, except major holidays. The sign says 8:00 to 5:00, and they opened
at 7:59 the day of our visit. Well done, Langtry Visitor's Center!|
Jersey Lilly Saloon / Courtroom adjoins the Visitor's Center. "Plain
and weathered" would describe the building. It's the "before" photograph in a
before-and-after deck stain commercial.
Jersey Lilly Saloon and Judge
Roy Bean's courtroom - built on the railroad right of way.|
courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
West of The Pecos, Langtry, Texas"|
The Jersey Lilly on a linen postcard, circa 1940s
on the Pecos
the saloon wasn't pretty, but it was colorful. Besides his duties as Law-West-of-the-Pecos,
Bean was also a director - using a cast of characters recruited from Langtry's
human resources. One day you might be in the audience; another day you might be
in the cast. One day a defendant - next day a jurist. But one thing never changed
Bean was in charge. If it wasn't for his wry sense of humor, he might've made
a good dictator.
course the humor depended on if it was you or someone else on trial. The law depended
on which side of the Pecos and the Westside was Roy Bean Territory.
Photo courtesy Bryan D Reynolds, April 2010
Naming of Langtry
The town dates to 1881 when a silver spike was driven by the railroad commemorating
the completion of the line. Among the people fighting for the spike after the
ceremony was the Honorable Judge
of the town's inhabitants moved from the village of Vinegarroon that was
located at the juncture of the Rio Grande and Pecos Rivers. The name comes from
a local arachnid more commonly known as a "whip-tail scorpion" that emits a vinegary
smell when you squash it while putting on your boots. A 19th century print of
a vinegarroon is in the visitor's center - and even as an arachnid - it's uglier
Langtry was probably named after a civil engineer working
for the railroad, but the story that people would rather believe is that Roy
Bean had a schoolboy crush on Miss Lillie Langtry and named
it in her honor.
of honor, Bean's
title of "Judge" was a little inflated. He was a Justice of the Peace
and even that is debated. He may just have just been an extroverted notary public.
In addition to his duties as "judge" he was also coroner for the railroad.
of the land in town belonged to a Mr. Torres who operated a store and restaurant
sort of squatted on the railroad right-of-way. Torres was a patient and pacific
man and gave Bean
a wide berth - perhaps in deference to Bean's
Roy half of the Brothers Frijoles|
(Roy with beard next to cyclist)
Jersey Lilly Saloon|
courtesy Bryan D Reynolds, 2007
courtesy Bryan D Reynolds, April 2010|
Visitor's Center at Langtry has many displays of Beanabilia, including
his pistol/gavel (with appropriately cracked butt) which came to be owned by Ms.
Langtry herself. The "Jersey Lily" couldn't think of a way to include
it in her act and so she donated it to the town. She was well aware she was supposedly
the town's namesake - for Roy
had been sending her fan letters for years. She couldn't find room in her
schedule to visit the town, and when her train finally did pull into Langtry -
The town today offers some interesting photo opportunities, particularly early
morning. East of the visitor's center is the Langtry Baptist Church, still
in use two Sundays a month. The land immediately south of 90 at the eastern entrance
to town was formerly a tourist camp and the variety of cacti specimens scattered
on the rocky slopes of the canyon is amazing. Also visible are the limestone bridge
supports for the old railroad route. Watch out for vinegarroons.
Rio Hotels > Book
Your Hotel Here & Save
TE photo, 2000
Route, Mile Creek Canyon. |
Crossed Three Miles East of Langtry, Texas"
1907 postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
Langtry Texas Forum Subject:
My parents & grandparents ran the old Mobil station/cafe/truck stop (now called
the "Langtry Depot"), from 1957-71. At that time, there were around 40-50 residents.
My younger brother and I both grew up there and attended the elementary school,
that at that time, had grades 1-4 in one room, and grades 5-8 in another. We knew
Vashti Skiles very well, her son Jack who back then ran the Roy Bean visitor's
center in the late `60s, and her whole family there in Langtry for many years--she
was in fact my first teacher. Like a lot of other kids at the time, I also later
on rode the school bus 60 miles round trip every day to attend high school over
in Comstock until I graduated
in 1970. I remember Marsha Askins always had the longest trip--about 100 miles
each way daily. We were also well acquainted with many of the ranchers from around
the surrounding area for miles around, since we all went to school with their
children, as well as being granted permission from the landowners to do some hunting
& fishing on several of the ranches around there on both the Pecos and Rio Grande
rivers. - Alan R. Taylor, November 20, 2012
1930 Photo of my mother at the Judge Roy
Bean House on her way (by car) to California
found this old photo of my mother after she graduated from Baylor and took a trip
with one of her fellow graduates to California, They stopped in Langtry and her
friend took my mother's picture in front of Judge Roy Bean's place. The sign behind
my mother's right shoulder says Property of Texas Highway Dept. The place was
fenced off from the public and the roof had big gaps in the shingles. It wasn't
kept up at all in 1930. My mother's name at the time was Alma Alston. She was
born in Troup Texas in 1904.
- Colin Patterson, October 20, 2012
Subject: Thank You
I just Google'd Langtry, Tx and had the pleasure to
find your website. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy your work. We are winter
Texans and enjoy the great state of Texas and your website has just made it a
lot easier to decide where to make our stops. We are currently staying at Del
Rio and exploring Lake Amistad, I love old westerns and was excited to see
how close we were to Langtry. We are making a day trip to the town today and your
website has helped me, I know where to go and what to see. Again Thank you for
your great work. - Joe and Donna Carpentier, January 15, 2008
Dear TE, I stumbled upon your magazine and found it interesting.
My family has roots in Langtry, Texas and my grandparents worked on the Hamilton
Ranch in Pumpville, Texas
in the 1920's. My grandparents owned and operated a Texaco gas station on Hwy.
90 W with six motel rooms in the 1930's-1940's. The family moved to Del
Rio, Texas in approximately 1947 but granddad still ran the gas station while
grandma and kids attended school and ran another business in Del
The Langtry schoolhouse is now closed and the children now attend
classes in Comstock, which is
about 28 miles east of Langtry. The Schoolhouse is now named "Vashti Skiles Community
Center" after my great-aunt, who taught school there for many years. The Community
Center is used for many things now, such as The Water Board meetings, monthly
town meetings, Bible Study, birthday parties, funeral services and an annual "Old
Settlers' Reunion" held in each April. The average attendance for this reunion
is about 130 people who travel from all over to attend the weekend festivities
and visit with family and old friends.
I believe there are [currently]
only 14-15 residents of Langtry but there are a lot of visitors daily and people
in the surrounding area drive to Langtry for their mail, to visit friends and
attend a church service every other weekend at the Baptist Church. The last I
heard, a visiting pastor or lay leader came to perform the service from Comstock.
I have attended several services there with my family over the last several years.
If anyone has any history, information, etc. on this area to share, I would be
happy to hear from you. - Daina Skiles Schwartz, San Angelo, Texas, firstname.lastname@example.org,
June 27, 2007
one of Pumpville's former
residents. In 1963, I was 9 years old and was in 3rd grade. My family got stuck
in Pumpville and the three kids were bussed to a two-room schoolhouse in Langtry.
... When visiting Pumpville in 2000, the general store looked like
a tornado had hit it. I explored a bit and saw evidence of where the phone company
and post office had been. The trailer was gone, but lo...the church had been totally
remodeled, a surprise since there seemed to be nobody in the area to attend it.
I'm guessing people living in nearby Langtry, a small town with a LOT of history,
notably the "Jersey Lilly" saloon and more in the fantastic tourist information
center, would likely be attendees. In 2002, it was in similar condition.
Incidentally, the old two-room schoolhouse in Langtry was still standing
in 2002, but was closed down. I'm sure nothing has changed. I even saw the old
merry-go-round in the former playground. Amazing. - Gil Davis, May 31, 2004
must talk about the extensive desert garden exhibit at the Langtry Visitor's
Center - it's a shame you left this part out - its the best part! and the
inside interactive exhibit is superb!" - Debra l. Beene, Archaeologist,
Texas Historical Commission, October 13, 2000
old Torres Grocery Store which has since collapsed|
TE photo, 2000
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