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Bean, Roy

Roy Bean, c.1825–1903, legendary American frontier judge, b. Mason co., Ky. He left Kentucky in 1847 to seek his fortune in California. Soon, however, he was managing a trading post in Chihuahua, Mexico. In 1849 he was chased back into U.S. territory for cattle rustling. During the Civil War, Roy Bean aided the Confederate cause by joining a band of lawless irregulars. After the war he followed the construction camps of the Southern Pacific RR as a saloonkeeper and gambler. In 1882, Bean settled at the Texas camp of Vinegaroon, had it renamed Langtry (for the English actress Lillie Langtry), named himself justice of the peace (to which he added the title "the law west of the Pecos" ), and set up court in his saloon, the Jersey Lily. He there began to dispense justice with the aid of one law book and a six-shooter. As a judge, Bean rendered arbitrary and unorthodox decisions, usually tempered with wit and common sense.

See biographies by C. L. Sonnichsen (1943, repr. 1953) and E. Lloyd (rev. ed. 1967).

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Bean, Roy

BEAN, ROY

Roy Bean achieved prominence for his unconventional law enforcement procedures. His methods for enforcing the law were questionable and unorthodox.

Bean was born circa 1825, in Mason County, Kentucky. His career included many undertakings, not always legal. In 1847, he was in charge of a trading post in Mexico. Accused of cattle rustling in 1849, he was forced back to the United States. He was a member of a group of vigilantes who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Bean was a saloonkeeper and a gambler in the postwar years. In 1882 Bean settled in Texas.

He changed the name of the Texas camp where he lived from Vinegaroon to Langtry and established himself as justice of the peace. His saloon was the courthouse where Bean presided as judge, using a law book, a gun, his sense of humor, and practical thinking as his guides to making judicial decisions.

"That'smy rulin'."
—Roy Bean

Bean died March 16, 1903, in Langtry.

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"Bean, Roy." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Sep. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Bean, Roy." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Retrieved September 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bean-roy