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Texas | Columns | "They shoe horses, don't they?"

TEN MORE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

JUDGE ROY BEAN

by John Troesser

The Jersey Lilly:
Where "sidebar" has a very literal meaning

Langtry TX - Jersey Lilly Saloon
The Jersey Lilly Saloon
Langtry, Texas

Photo courtesy Bryan D Reynolds, 2007
  1. When business was slow at The Jersey Lilly - Bean's courthouse/ saloon, Roy would stand on the porch and "attract" customers at gunpoint.
  2. There was no jail, so people awaiting trial or serving time were chained each to the only tree in Langtry.
  3. A district attorney from Del Rio (in the later years) came to Langtry to inform Roy Bean it was not legal for him to grant divorces. Bean said that if he could marry them, then he could "fix his mistakes." The DA wouldn't let the matter drop so Bean got the DA in a poker game. When the DA was $230 in the hole - Bean forgave the debt on the condition that the subject never came up again. It didn't.
  4. The Governor of Texas had received complaints that no funds ever came to Austin from Bean's court - so the Governor wrote to Langtry. The reply from Bean was: "Governor, you run things there in Austin and I'll run things here. My court never cost the State any money." Nothing more was heard from the Governor.
  5. Roy Bean never gave change in his courtroom. If he fined a person $16.00 and the person pulled out a $20 gold piece, he amended his decision. "Make that $20, by Gobs, that's my rulin'!
  6. Often for minor offenses, the "fine" would be that the offender would have to buy a round of drinks for the judge, jury and everyone else in Langtry that could make it to the bar.
  7. On Mondays, Roy Bean did a "wholesale" clearing of his docket. A sample case:
    "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, to-wit: drunk and disorderly, and being the Law West of the Pecos, I fine you $2.00 - now get the hell out of here and never show yourself in this court again. Next case!...
  8. A valuable lesson for today: Roy Bean's court NEVER cost the county or state one cent. Bean paid all salaries and operational costs out of fines and court income.
  9. His son was killed in a gunfight in Del Rio.
  10. Both Roy and son Sam are buried in Del Rio - their graves are now something of a tourist attraction.
© John Troesser
"They shoe horses, don't they?" May 22, 2004 Column
Jersey Lilly Saloon, Langtry, Texas
The Jersey Lilly Saloon and Judge Roy Bean's courtroom
- built on the railroad right of way.
Langtry, Texas

Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/

On Judge Roy Bean:

  • Ten Things You Should Know About Judge Roy Bean by John Troesser
  • Ten More Things You Should Know About Judge Roy Bean by John Troesser
    The Jersey Lilly: Where 'sidebar' has a very literal meaning
  • “Law West Of The Pecos” by Murray Montgomery
    The Moulton Eagle – March 21, 1924
  • Langtry: A West Texas Love Story by Michael Barr
  • Roy Bean Before His Law West Of The Pecos Days by Lois Zook Wauson
  • Langtry, Texas

  • Related Topics:
    Outlaws | People | Texas Towns | Texas History |
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    More about Judge Roy Bean:
  • Ten Things You Should Know About Judge Roy Bean by John Troesser
  • “Law West Of The Pecos” by Murray Montgomery
    The Moulton Eagle – March 21, 1924
  • Langtry: A West Texas Love Story by Michael Barr
  • Roy Bean Before His Law West Of The Pecos Days by Lois Zook Wauson
  • Langtry, Texas
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