Roy Bean was born in Kentucky in 1825. At age 16 he and his brother left the parent’s home and went to Mexico. Supposedly Roy had a argument with a man there and shot him — Roy and his brother fled initially to Sonora and later to San Diego where another brother lived.
Again, he got in trouble by challenging a Scottish fellow to a duel – – reason was a woman both men loved. She shot the Scottish guy in the arm and went to prison but could escape.
In the 1860’s he moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he worked as barkeeper. He also supported the military during the Civil War.
Eventually he moved again, this time to a railroad worker’s camp: Vinegarroon, Texas. It’s said that he got there his title “Justice of the Peace” because he took the side job as a kind of judge.
At that time Bean operated an improvised saloon in form of a tent. After he got his judge title one of his first actions was to close the saloon of a competitor in order to take it over. Now he had a ‘real’ office structure even though it still was mainly a saloon. He considered himself as the “Law West Of The Pecos (River).”
All his sentences were highly questionable and controverse. Sometimes the defendants had to buy rounds of Whiskey for the judge and helpers.
When the railroad workers moved their operations further west Roy Bean also moved his Saloon. Today this is the area of Langtry.
The name of the town is supposedly derived from a woman he fell in love with: Ms. Langtry a.k.a. “Jersey Lilly”. She was a lady working in the entertainment business, whatever that means. She actually came the first time to Langtry after Roy bean had died.
Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center
Langtry is located in southwest Texas on U.S. 90 West, 60 miles west of Del Rio,. The visitor center features rustic saloon, courtroom, billiard hall and the opera house of Judge Roy Bean, the colorful and controversial “Law West of the Pecos” in 1880s. The center preserves historic site where Judge Bean ruled with high-handed brand of homespun law, outrageous humor and six-shooter justice.
Adjacent modern visitor center interprets highlights of Judge Bean’s career in “The Magic of Pepper’s Ghost Revealed” where dioramas come to life with live historic re-enactments in miniature stages. The “ghost-like” characters recall events during Bean’s tenure as judge.
Location: Hwy 90 West Loop 25 Langtry, TX 78871
Closest large city: San Antonio, Texas — Overview for Travelers