For years, Roy boasted of his...
For years, Roy boasted of his 'acquaintance with Miss Langtry,' and promised locals she would one day arrive and sing in Langtry. In 1896, after his first
saloon was destroyed by fire, Roy rebuilt the Jersey Lilly and constructed a home for himself across the street, which he called the Opera House, anticipating the day when Lillie would perform there. Roy never met Miss Lillie, but he often wrote her, and she is purported to have written back, even sending him 2 pistols, which he cherished till his dying day.
Contrary to the Larry McMurtry novel and movie Streets Of Laredo, Roy was not gunned down by a Mexican outlaw on the steps of the Jersey Lilly. In
March 1903, Roy went on a drinking binge in Del Rio and simply died peacefully in his bed the following morning.
Ten months later, the Southern Pacific stopped at Langtry and finally disgorged Lillie herself on the way from New Orleans to San Francisco. She had decided to take the judge up on his invitation. She visited the saloon and listened as locals told her how Roy Bean had fined a corpse, freed a murderer
and lined his pockets by shortchanging train passengers. 'It was a short visit,'Lillie later wrote in her autobiography, 'but an unforgettable one.'