Roy Bean married 15 year-old Virginia Chavez in San Antonio on 10-28-1866. Their union brought forth four Beanitos: Roy Jr., Sam, Laura and Zulema. They also adopted a son named John. It was Roy’s first and last marriage. They divorced around 1880 and Roy left her in San Antonio while he went South.

In the pre-Langtry days in San Antonio, Roy Bean used to haul and sell milk. In order to increase profits, he added creek water to the milk. When the buyers started noticing minnows in the milk, Roy seemed as surprised as the buyers. “By Gobs,” he said, “I’ll have to stop them cows from drinking out of the creek.”

In 1882 Roy Bean was appointed Justice of the Peace for Precinct 6, (then Pecos – now Val Verde County). Roy Bean may have been a heavy drinker and a shady character, but he came highly recommended by Texas Rangers, who felt he “had what it would take” to bring the law “West of the Pecos.” 

Bean enjoyed his tough reputation and he kept his kindness hidden. Throughout the years, he took some of the fines and much of the collected goods and gave them to the poor and destitute of the area, doing so without it being known. He even took monies collected in the Jersey Lilly, – his own trackside saloon and used them to buy medicine for the sick and poor in and around Langtry.

Explaining why he had helped so many people, Roy Bean explained it this way to his friend: “Well Dodd, I haven’t been any gol-dang angel myself and there might be a lot charged up to me on Judgment Day; and I figure what good I can do-the Lord will give me credit when the time comes.” He was very sincere in this belief and it was the sum and total of any religious statement from Roy Bean.

An owner of a Langtry restaurant owed Bean money and when he didn’t pay, Bean waited until the restaurant was full, then he then took his place by the door and had each customer pay him for their meal. The last few customers paid the interest.

Bean has often been confused with “hanging judge” Parker of Ft. Smith – (perhaps because their slightly unorthodox or creative sentencing). Bean never actually hanged anyone, although he occasionally “staged” hangings to scare criminals. Bean would prepare a script with his “staff” – if they were sober enough – which allowed for the prisoner to escape. Given this “second-chance” – the culprits never appeared before the court again.

Bean never sentenced anyone to the penitentiary. If ANYTHING needing doing in Langtry – the prisoner would do it. If there was nothing to be done, the prisoner could take it easy by simply being staked out in the sun.

Nearly everyone has heard the story of Bean fining a dead man $40 – the exact amount that in the corpse’s pocket. Less known is the fact that the $40 bought a casket, headstone and paid the gravedigger’s labor. He did, however, keep the man’s gun for use as a gavel.

Roy Bean died at 10:03pm March 19, 1903 after a heavy drinking spree in Del Rio. He returned home at 10 a.m. and died that night at 10 p.m. The real reason he died, was he simply lost the will to live. Bean could not adjust to modern times. The thing that sent him on his binge was the start of construction on a power plant on the Pecos River. He used to say that times were changing and he was being left behind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you think things are tough now… imagine living back then!

check your milk for minnows before purchasing it!

Advertisements