In this excerpt from the work "The Two JRB's Tour Guide of Val Verde and Coahuila",
Judge Roy Bean
"The Law West of the Pecos
Doctor Brinkley's melifluous braodcaster's voice intones seriously, "Certainly he needs no introduction to millions of movie goers. Entrepreneur,
Lawman, Justice of the Peace, and most of all Legend of the Old West, who most
certainly made his own claim to fame due to his own talents at self-promotion
by feeding news-hungry reporters roughage such as anecdotes that became legendary
of his arbitrary-yet-poetically-correct frontier justice, or tall tales about
hard-drinking that helped to build the myth of the Old West, or stories of bloodshed
and vengeance that seemed to ennoble and redeem a simple backwoods vulgarity
that he suggested often descended into savage barbarity. Unfortunately, what
seemed to him appropriate at the time looks very politically incorrect by today's
" His most famous stunt was to organize a banned prize fight between two heavyweight boxers on an island in the middle of the Rio Grande, safely out of the Jurisdiction of Politics but dampened by a light drizzle that killed his hopes that day of making money after filming the event.
" He was probably born in Kentucky in 1825 and grew up fast to become a man about five-foot-ten and one hundred ninety pounds with a trimmed beard. He remembers being a Slave Trader, "driving Negroes like cattle to New Orleans to sell them" and then after 1849 he joined the Gold Rush to California where he killed a "Mexican" man in a duel over a woman. He doesn't mention that almost all the women there were prostitutes.
" Then he shows up in Santa Fe New Mexico and by the time he was forty years old, he lives in San Antonio Texas working for his brother who had a business shipping in and out of Mexico by way of Chihuahua, a long, dry desert trip through some of North America's most formidable terrain. There he meets a sixteen year old daughter of a Hispanic landowner, and he eventually marries Virginia Chavez, and moves in with her family. After moving out from under his In-law's wing, he and his wife took up various residences around San Antonio's South side as squatters, finding vacant houses and living there until evicted, eventually having five children and adopting three more. It's rumored that he had milk cows and sold watered-down milk that occasionally sported minnows. In fact, there's an area within San Antonio that was once called Beanville due to the presence of about twenty-five families near the junction of the San Pedro Creek and the San Antonio River. Mr. Bean's abandoned and ruined San Antonio House, completely overrun by trees back in the 1970s, has since been rebuilt with the original stone into a three room house in a rural setting only five minutes from downtown San Antonio.
" Divorced in 1881, Roy moved to West Texas and made a living supplying whiskey to railroad workers who would soon drive the Silver Spike into the ground just West of the Pecos River. He lived in Vinegaroon, an itinerant Rail Road workers temporary community, and then Sanderson, finally settling at Langtry where high limestone bluffs over the Rio Grande kept him close to the border. He got himself elected Justice of the Peace in 1885 and served most of the time until 1902, holding court in his saloon-convenience store where he hung the sign "Judge Roy Bean, the Law West of the Pecos."
" How a man who seemed to easily earn people's respect could talk a boy into shooting a man in the back over a verbal insult can only be explained by insanity, an abusive and traumatic past, alcohol abuse, and the added frustrations of an aged and impotent old man who never recognized his spiritually infirmity. Hey, but that just makes him like many of us. We're all entitled to our little mistakes.
" Probably 78 years old, Judge Roy Bean died on March 9, 1903 in Langtry, pining for his famous unrequited love, Lily Langtry, a popular theater performer in the big city venues of the day. The tiny hamlet of Langtry has become a tourist stop on the long lonely highway between Del Rio and points west such as Sanderson, Marfa, Alpine, and Big Bend National Park. In Langtry, one can enjoy timeless vistas from the silent cliffs over the Rio Grande, where the wind whistles through the feathers of a floating eagle, or visit the old saloon and talk local historians into showing you their collection of relics, if there's anyone about. Not many live there today, but there is a fine and modern Desert Museum across the street. "
This excerpt from a real piece of work called "The
Two JRB's Tour Guide of Val Verde and Coahuila",
where the ghosts of "Doctor"
Brinkley and Judge Roy Bean
lead us around the Oasis of West Texas and Mexico for
some great Coahuilan desert snorkeling, might soon be released as a hardcover coffee table book, part of a publication
on CD-ROM and with high-resolution multi-media;
photographs, sound and music, filmclips, artwork, and
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2002 Mark Plimsoll. All rights reserved.