Roy Bean - The Law West of the Pecos
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Phantley Roy Bean (1825-1903) - Roy Bean was born in Mason County, Kentucky around 1825
to Phantley Roy and Anna Henderson Gore Bean. The
youngest of three sons, the Kentucky family was very poor.
At the age of 15, he left Kentucky to follow his two older brothers west. With his brother, Sam, he joined a wagon train into New Mexico, then crossed the Rio Grande
River and set up a trading post in Chihuahua, Mexico
After killing a local man, Roy fled to San Diego, California
where his brother, Joshua, lived.
On February 24, 1852, Bean was in a duel on
horseback with a Scotsman named Collins. In the gunfight, Collins was shot in
his right arm and both men were arrested for assault with intent to murder.
Bean, who was considered brave and handsome by the local women, received
numerous visits and gifts during his six-week stay in jail. When one of his
admirers slipped him knives hidden in some tamales, Bean used them to dig
through the cell wall and escaped on April 17th.
Next, he wound up in San Gabriel,
where his brother Joshua owned a
called the Headquarters. When Joshua was killed in November, 1852, Bean
and began to operate it.
Judge Roy Bean
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While there, Bean killed a Mexican official during an argument over a woman. Friends of the official soon hauled Bean off, lynched him and left him to die. However, he was saved by the young woman
who had been the cause of the dispute. For the rest of his life, he sported a
permanent rope burn on his neck, which constantly felt stiff.
Before long, he was back in New Mexico,
where he again lived with his brother Sam who had become the sheriff in Mesilla.
Civil War, the
Texas army invaded
New Mexico and Bean
soon joined them, hauling supplies for the
Confederates and living in San Antonio. On October 28, 1866, he married eighteen-year-old Virginia
Chavez, but the couple were not happy together. Just a year into the marriage,
Bean was arrested for aggravated assault on his wife. However, despite their
differences, the couple would eventually have four
children. For the next decade, the family lived in a Mexican slum area on South
Flores Street in San Antonio that soon earned the name of Beanville. During these years, he
worked at a number of professions including teamster,
running a dairy
business, and other entrepreneurial enterprises that were obviously not very
successful, as he became known for circumventing creditors, business rivals, and
By the early 1880's, Bean and his wife were separated and he sold
all his possessions and left San Antonio, wandering about the railroad camps
before finally landing in west Texas
Pecos River. In the early 1880'a the Southern Pacific Railroad was
working hard to to overcome its last obstacle of completing its transcontinental
route -- crossing the
Pecos River. A construction camp formed near the
railroad bridge site, which was called