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Law arrives west of the Pecos


On this day in 1882, the commissioners of Pecos County officially appointed Roy Bean justice of the peace. He retained the post, with short interruptions, until he retired voluntarily in 1902. As he gained fame for being an eccentric and original interpreter of the law, the Kentucky native became known as the "Law West of the Pecos." For example, when a man carrying forty dollars and a pistol fell off a bridge, Bean fined the corpse forty dollars for carrying a concealed weapon. The forty dollars covered the man's funeral expenses. Bean died in his saloon on March 16, 1903, of lung and heart ailments and was buried in the Del Rio cemetery. His shrewdness, audacity, unscrupulousness, and humor, aided by his knack for self-dramatization, made him an enduring part of American folklore.

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