Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Badlands

Phantly Roy Bean, Jr. (c. 1825 – March 16, 1903) was an eccentric U.S. saloon-keeper and Justice of the Peace in Val Verde County,Texas, who called himself "The Law West of the Pecos". According to legend, Judge Roy Bean held court in his saloon along the Rio Grandein a desolate stretch of the Chihuahuan Desert of southwest Texas. After his death, Western films and books cast him as a hanging judge, though he is known to have sentenced only two men to hang, one of whom escaped.

Roy Bean was born in 1825 in Mason County, Kentucky,
the youngest of five (four sons and a daughter) of Phantly Roy Bean, Sr., and the former Anna Henderson Gore. The family was extremely poor, and at age sixteen Bean left home to ride a flatboat to New Orleans and possible work. After getting into trouble there, Bean fled to San Antonio, Texas to join his older brother Sam.

Roy Bean, date unknown
Samuel Gore "Sam" Bean (1819-1903), who had earlier migrated to Independence, Missouri, was a teamster and bullwhacker. He hauled freight to Santa Fe and then on to Chihuahua, Mexico. After Sam fought in the Mexican–American War, he freighted out of San Antonio, where Roy joined him.
In 1848, the two brothers opened a trading post in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Soon after, Roy Bean shot and killed a Mexican desperado who had threatened "to kill a gringo." To escape being charged with murder by Mexican authorities, Roy and Sam Bean fled west to Sonora. By the spring of 1849, Bean had moved to San Diego, California, to live with his older brother Joshua. The older Bean was elected the first mayor of the city the following year.
Considered handsome, Roy Bean competed for the attentions of various local girls. A Scotsman named Collins challenged Bean to a pistol-shooting match on horseback. Bean was left to choose the targets, and decided that they would shoot at each other. The duel was fought on February 24, 1852, ending with Collins' receiving a wound to his right arm.
Both men were arrested and charged with assault with intent to murder. In the two months that he was in jail, Bean received many gifts of flowers, food, wine, and cigars from ladies in San Diego.
His final gift included knives encased in tamales. Bean used the knives to dig through the cell wall. After escaping on April 17, Bean moved to San Gabriel, California, where he became a bartender for his brother's saloon, known as the Headquarters Saloon. After Joshua was murdered in November, Bean inherited the saloon.
In 1854, Bean courted a young lady, who was subsequently kidnapped and forced to marry a Mexican officer. Bean challenged the groom to a duel and killed him. Six of the dead man's friends put Bean on a horse and tied a noose around his head, then left him to hang. The horse did not bolt, and after the men left, the bride, who had been hiding behind a tree, cut the rope. Bean was left with a permanent rope burn on his neck and a permanent stiff neck.
Shortly after that, Bean chose to leave California and migrated to New Mexico to live with Sam. The latter had been elected the first sheriff of Doña Ana County.
 In 1861 Samuel G. and Roy Bean operated a merchandise store and saloon on Main Street in Pinos Altos (just north of Silver City) in present-day Grant County, New Mexico. It advertised liquor and "a fine billiard table." A cannon belonging to Roy Bean sat in front of the store for show. It was used to repel an Apache assault on the town.
During the Civil War, the Confederate Army invaded New Mexico. After the Battle of Glorieta Pass in March 1862, the Texans began retreating to San Antonio. File:The-Battle-of-Glorieta-Pass.jpgAfter first taking money from his brother's safe, Bean joined the retreating army. For the remainder of the war, he ran the blockade by hauling cotton from San Antonio to British ships off the coast at Matamoros, then returning with suppliesFile:Matamoros plazacentro.jpg
 For the next twenty years, Bean lived in San Antonio, working nominally as a teamster. He attempted to run a firewood business, cutting down a neighbor's timber. He then tried to run a dairy business, but was soon caught watering down the milk, and later worked as a butcher, rustling unbranded cattle from other area ranchers.
On October 28, 1866, he married eighteen-year-old Virginia Chavez. Within a year after they were married he was arrested for aggravated assault and threatening his wife's life.
 Despite the tumultuous marriage, the two had four children together, Roy Jr., Laura, Zulema, and Sam.The family lived in "a poverty-stricken Mexican slum area called Beanville" (centered around the corner of South Flores Street and Glenn Avenue, not far from Burbank High School)
By the late 1870s, Bean was operating a saloon in Beanville. Several railroad companies were working to extend the railroads west, and Bean heard that many construction camps were opening.A store owner in Beanville "was so anxious to have this unscrupulous character out of the neighborhood" that she bought all of Bean's possessions for $900 so that he could leave San Antonio. pecos above
At the time, Bean and his wife were separated. Bean left his children with friends as he prepared to go west.With his earnings, Bean purchased a tent, some supplies to sell, and ten 55-gallon barrels of whiskey. By the spring of 1882, he had established a small saloon near the Pecos River in a tent city he named Vinegaroon. Within 20 miles (32 km) of the tent city were 8,000 railroad workers. The nearest court was 200 miles (320 km) away at Fort Stockton, and there was little means to stop illegal activity. ATexas Ranger requested that a local law jurisdiction be set up in Vinegaroon, and on August 2, 1882 Bean was appointed Justice of the Peace for the new Precinct 6 in Pecos County. His first case had, however, been heard on 25 July 1882 when Texas Rangers brought him Joe Bell to be tried.


As he aged, Bean spent much of his profits to help the poor of the area, and always made sure that the schoolhouse had free firewood in winter. He died March 16, 1903, peacefully in his bed, after a bout of heavy drinking in San Antonio over the building of a new power plant. He and a son, Sam Bean {1874-1907} are interred at the Whitehead Memorial Museum in Del Rio.

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