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.'
History of Judge Roy Bean
Roy Bean was born in Kentucky in 1823. He had two brothers - Sam and Josh. Roy's parents must have instilled a strong sense of social responsibility in their boys, as all three eventually ended up in some form of public service. Sam became a Sherrif in New Mexico, And Josh was elected the first Mayor of San Diego, California.
When young Roy left home, he headed for Mexico then on to California where he began his law enforcement career as a California Ranger.
After his brother Josh died, Roy headed for Texas, and served briefly as justice of the peace in Vinegaroon.
An entrepeneur at heart, Roy left Vinegaroon to open a saloon in a small texas town which would soon be named 'Langtry'.
In recognition of his previous experience with the law, The State of Texas appointed Roy Bean as Justice of The Peace for Langtry in 1882.
Judge Bean was continually re-elected to that office by the citzens of Langtry til his death in 1903.
In Defence of Judge Roy Bean Law west of the Pecos