Posts Tagged ‘San Antonio TX’

Fall of the Alamo – Anniversary Reminiscences

March 6, 2012


SAN ANTONIO, March 3, 1876.

[excerpted from long article]

Forty years ago, the 6th of March, the Alamo fell, and the patriot blood of Travis and his brave companions consecrated the soil of Texas to the Goddess of Liberty. The Alamo was one of those church missions founded in Texas by the Franciscan Fathers, for the double purpose of holding the country for the King of Spain and for converting the Indians to Christianity. The corner stone of the edifice was laid May 8, 1744, though a slab in the front wall bears the date 1757.

The accompanying diagram will give our readers a tolerably fair view of the Alamo and grounds as they were in 1836…


A little after midnight, the different divisions of the Mexican army silently marched to their assigned positions. At 4 o’clock the bugle sounded, and the whole line advanced to the final assault. Santa Anna, with all the bands, was behind an adobe house, about 500 years south of the church. The Texans were ready, and, according to Fillisola, “poured upon the advancing columns a shower of grape and musket and rifle balls.” Twice the assailants re??ed and fell back in dismay. Rallied again by the heroic Castrillon (who fell at San Jacinto), they approached the walls the third time. We again quote from Fillisola: “The columns of the western and eastern attacks meeting with some difficulty in reaching the tops of the small houses forming the wall of the fort, did, by a simultaneous movement to the right and to the left, swing northward until the three columns formed one dense mass, which, under the guidance of their officers, finally succeeded in effecting an entrance into the inclosed yard.

About the same time the column on the south made a breach in the wall and captured one of the guns.” This gun, the eighteen pounder, was immediately turned upon the convent, to which some of the Texans had retreated. The carronade on the center of the west wall was still manned by the Texans, and did fearful execution upon the Mexicans who had ventured into the yard. But the feeble garrison could not long hold out against such overwhelming numbers. Travis fell early in the action, shot with a rifle ball in the head. After being shot he had sufficient strength to kill a Mexican who attempted to spear him. The bodies of most of the Texans were found in the building, where a hand-to-hand fight took place.

The body of Crockett, however, was in the yard, with a number of Mexicans lying near him. Bowie was slain in his bed, though it is said he killed two or three of the Mexicans with his pistol as they broke into his room. The church was the last place entered by the foe. It had been agreed that when further resistance seemed useless, any surviving Texan should blow up the magazine. Major Evans was applying the torch when he was killed in time to prevent the explosion. It was reported that two or three Texans, found in a room, appealed in vain for quarter. The sacrifice was complete. Every soldier had fallen in defense of the fort.

Three non-combatants were spared — a negro servant of Col. Travis, and Mrs. Alsbury and Mrs. Dickinson. Lieut. Dickinson, with a child on his back, leaped from an upper window in the east  end of the church; but their lifeless bodies fell to the ground riddled with bullets. One hundred and eighty bodies of the Texans were collected in a pile and partially burned. Well informed Texans put the loss of the Mexicans at about twice that number. The official report of the Mexican Adjutant General left in command at San Antonio, puts their loss at sixty killed and 251 wounded. On the 25th of February, 1837, the bones of their victims were collected by Col. John N. Seguin then in command at this place and decently and honorably interred.


“Rise, man the wall, our clarion’s blast
Now sounds its final reveille;
This dawning morn must be the last
Our fated band shall ever see.
To life, but not to hope, farewell.
Yon trumpet’s clang and cannon’s peal,
And storming shout and clash of steel,
Is ours, but not our country’s knell!
Welcome the Spartan’s death–
‘Tis no despairing strife—
We fall—we die!—but our expiring breath
Is freedom’s breath of life.

“Here on this new Thermopylae,
Our monument shall tower on high,
And, ‘Alamo’ hereafter be
In bloodier fields the battle cry.”
Thus Travis from the rampart cried;
And when his warriors saw the foe
Like whelming billows move below,
At once each dauntless heart replied:
“Welcome the Spartan’s death—
‘Tis no despairing strife—
We fall! –we die! — but our expiring breath
Is Freedom’s breath of life!

“They come — like autumn leaves they fall,
Yet hordes on hordes they onward rush,
With gory tramp they mount the wall,
Till numbers the defenders crush —
Till falls their flag when none remain!
Well may the ruffians quake to tell
How Travis and his hundred fell,
Amid a thousand foemen slain!
They died the Spartan’s death,
But not in hopeless strife —
Like brothers died, and their expiring breath
Was Freedom’s breath of life!”

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Mar 5, 1876

Fort Sam Houston Fire Department

August 9, 2010

I have been trying to date this photo, which belonged to my grandfather, so I searched the newspaper archives and found a few articles that seem to be from the correct time period.  If anyone has any personal knowledge regarding the fire fighters at Fort Sam Houston during this time period, please leave me a comment. (Click the photo for a larger image.)


Blaze Fighters in Fort Sam Houston Vicinity Now One Unit.

The fire fighting organizations of all army stations located in the vicinity of Fort Sam Houston have been consolidated and Fire Chief Hogan of Camp Travis placed in control of training and operation, according to a general order issued by Maj. Gen. John L. Hines, commanding general of the Eighth Corps area, Friday. Fire departments affected by the order are Fort Sam Houston, Camp Travis, Eighth Corps Area Depot No. 2 and the remount depot.

The consolidation was made in the interests of economy and efficiency, and after October 15 the four units will operate as one fire department insofar as fire prevention and fire fighting is concerned.

None of the personnel or equipment of the various units is to be transferred without the approval of the corps area headquarters however, the order states.

The area which the newly consolidated fire department will have to cover is scattered, extending several miles from the central station at Camp Travis. Up to the present time the department has operated very efficiently, as no destructive fires have ever occurred, with the exception of one warehouse.

The fire department is manned exclusively with soldier firemen, with Chief Hogan, former city fireman, as chief. In addition to keeping a close watch in order to prevent fires, the department keeps the men constantly in training.

San Antonio Light (San Antonio, Texas) Oct 14, 1921

This photo goes with the one above. I haven’t been able to identify any of the men named here. Here is a list of the names, as best as I can make them out:




New Equipment Here For Camp Travis Fire Department.

Fire-fighting clothes have been received by the three stations comprising the Fire Department at Camp Travis and Fort Sam Houston. they are of canvas lined with fleeced wool and interlined with material that is water proof. There are pants and coat and each fireman will have a suit handy to his cot on retiring at night. The pants are built sailor fashion, designed for speed in donning them rather than for style, and to keep the water off in rainy weather or should the fireman get mixed up with the stream from the hose.

There are three fire houses in the military reservation in charge of Fire Chief Hogan; No. 1 is equipped with an Ahrens Fox Pumper, No. 2 has a Brockway Hosewagon and No. 3 has a 10 valve White pumper.

Most of the buildings in Camp Travis are of frame but an automatic general fire alarm system that extends throughout the entire camp and through Fort Sam Houston coupled with the fact that the fire-fighting apparatus is of the most modern known, makes the risk an extremely light one.

San Antonio Express (San Antonio, Texas) Nov 8, 1922

This photo in the newspaper looks like it could have been taken about the same time, if not the same day, but none of the names listed on my photo above are listed in the article below, so I can’t be sure.  (Click for larger image.)

Headquarters of the Fort Sam Houston Fire Department, showing part of the officers and men of Wagon Company No. 4, who guard Uncle Sam's huge investment in the Staff Post and Cantonment Garrison. The department on paper is carried as a wagon company. It's chauffeurs rate as horse shoers and other ratings are similar to those in any wagon company. Lieut. Joseph L. Hogan, chief of the Fort Sam Houston Fire Department, a former member of the San Antonio city fire department. Chief Hogan is responsible for the department as far as actual fire fighting is concerned. Lieut. T.J. Weed, fire marshal at Fort Sam Houston, including Camp Stanley. Lieutenant Weed, with Chief Hogan, drew the plan whereby Wagon Company No. 4 was changed bodily into the crack fire-fighting organization it has become. In addition to being fire marshal and responsible for maintenance of discipline in the department Lieutenant Weed is adjutant of the Second Division Trains and holds temporary command of one or two other organizations pending assignment of other officers to them.

PROBABLY the most unique fire fighting organization in the world and certainly in the United States Army is Wagon Company No. 4, which was converted bodily into a crack fire department, but still functions on the organization rolls of the Second Division as a wagon company.

“We must have a well organized fire company,” went out the word from division headquarters.

Lieut. T.J. Weed, Quartermaster Corps, adjutant of the Second Division trains, was given the problem to work out in conjunction with Joseph L. Hogan, then captain in the San Antonio city department, and later chief of the Camp Travis and later of the Fort Sam Houston consolidated departments.

Under the plan arranged by the two Wagon Company No. 4 was converted into the fire company and the former rank of the men involved still stood on organization rolls. But there really is this difference, the sergeant wagon masters really are station chiefs, the corporals, or assistant wagon masters now serve as company clerks, mess sergeants, etc. The chauffeurs of the fire trucks are carried on the company pay rolls as horseshoers.

The personnel of the wagon company today shows many changes from its original roster. The pick of the entire Second Division was given its commander and the result was the gathering of a splendid body of men. Capt. E.A. Fischer first was placed in command, later being succeeded by Capt. Wilbur Elliott, who in turn was succeeded as fire marshal and commander of the company by Lieutenant Weed, who now holds that position in addition to other duties.

Three Assistants on Job.

Fire Chief Hogan is assisted by three other civilians, all of whom are former San Antonio city fire department members and thoroughly conversant with the duties of a fireman and how men should be trained to make first-class firemen of them. They are First Assistant Chief Ed Hogan, a brother of the chief, Second Assistant Chief E. Kirsch, and Third Assistant Chief J.E. Dowdy.

In the enlisted force of the fire department there are three sergeants, three corporals and 84 enlisted men. In order that the men should be satisfied with their new duties and the possible hazards they might be called upon to take in the department, they have been given various specialist ratings which carry with them a slight increase in pay.

Wagon Company No. 4 is one organization which holds no drills, as a whole, and never assembles as a whole. While it maintains company headquarters and a mess, where the men eat, and draw their pay, these are the only two things which bring the men assigned to the various stations to company headquarters. At meal times one piece of apparatus drives up and its crew alights, with the exception of one man, who stands by the apparatus while the others eat hurriedly. After the last man had eaten the truck returns to the house, relieving the other piece which then carries its crew to the mess hall. In this way the firehouses never are left unguarded.

Fire drills of all sorts are given at regular intervals, including hose drills, catching plugs, ladder drills. Occasionally a salvaged building in isolated occasion will be set off, alarm turned in and the firemen will receive the actual practice of combatting flames.

Behind the highly organized fire company stands splendid equipment, including seven pieces of motor apparatus ranging from the Dodge car used by Chief Hogan to a large Ahrens-Fox pumper. These vehicles are supplemented by approximately 40 hand hose reels throughout the cantonment garrison and army post. Altogether the department has about 20,000 feet of standard hose.

Men Always in Watch Towers.

High towers are features of the fire fighting equipment at the  cantonment garrison and at no time is the vigilance of the watchers relaxed. Like the foresters who watch over the great Government preserves, these servants of the Government constantly scan the horizon for smoke or flames. Not along does the responsibility of guarding the cantonment with its millions of dollars worth of fixed property, but the knowledge that within the buildings are many additional millions worth of fine equipment and that much of the housing construction is of flimsy wooden type, adds gravity to the firemen’s duty.

The fire fighters do not confine their activities to Fort Sam Houston as included in the consolidation. Fires anywhere in the vicinity of the cantonment garrison also are considered as imposing duty upon the firemen. They have sent equipment to farm houses beyond the camp limits and successfully combatted flames. Frequently, when the alarm is near the post, they aid the city department with which a reciprocal understanding is maintained. Runs are made as far as Government Hill, at times.

Included in the department are three stations in the cantonment garrison, one at the staff post and one at Camp Stanley.

A modern telegraph fire alarm system is a feature of the equipment of the Fort Sam Houston department. There are direct alarm lines from the camp laundry and camp exchange, both of which are very large and valuable buildings with highly valuable contents. The big warehouses and the hospitals are equipped with automatic alarms which are set off in headquarters station when the temperature of the buildings reaches a certain degree of heat.

All fire alarms are answered by the military police, to patrol the grounds around the threatened building, and by a surgeon with an ambulance, equipped with first aid appliances.

Recreation Rooms Provided.

It would be dull indeed for the firemen were their daily life to consist altogether of duty. Lieutenant Weed therefore had arranged with the assistance of Chief Hogan, for the installation of recreation rooms at each of the fire stations. The equipment will included pool table, game boards, literature of various kinds. A recreation room also will be installed at company headquarters for the tower guards, fire alarm operators and others stationed there.

Both the military and civilian heads of the department are natives of San Antonio.

Lieutenant Weed is a San Antonian. With the exception of a few years during which he has been in the public service, in the army and other branches of the Government, he has spent practically all his life in this city. With the Government he served in construction work on the Panama Canal and in the consular service in Mexico.
Upon the entry of the United States into the World War, Lieutenant Weed was serving in the office of Gen. H.L. Rogers, then Colonel Rogers who later served as Quartermaster General of the Army, but who at that time was serving as Quartermaster of the Old Southern Department. When General Rogers was ordered overseas Lieutenant Weed accompanied him, remaining there for over two years, when he was ordered back to the United States for duty in the office of the Quartermaster General of the Army. He remained there for two years, until ordered to the Second Division.

While overseas Lieutenant Weed rose from the grade of sergeant to that of captain, serving in the latter grade as chief of the administrative division office of the Chief Quartermaster, A.E.F. In Washington he occupied a similar position, and was assigned the additional duty of preparing a history of Quartermaster Operations in Europe, which was completed prior to his transfer here.

Hogan Native of San Antonio.

Chief Hogan is a native of San Antonio, having been born and reared in this city. He spent a number of years in the fire department in San Antonio, where he was promoted successively until he became a station captain. When war was declared he immediately enlisted and later commissioned. Under the fire marshal, Chief Hogan is technically responsible for the efficient operation of the Fort Sam Houston department, while the fire marshal enforces military discipline.

Men on duty with the fire department follow: First Lieut. T.J. Weed, fire marshal; Joseph L. Hogan, fire chief; Ed. J. Hogan, assistant fire chief; J.E. Dowdy, third assistant fire chief.

Station No. 1: First Sgt. W.J. Bailey; P.F.C. Ernt Estes, 1st chauf; P.F.C. Gus J. Clay, 2nd chauf.; P.F.C. Otto E. Karth, 3rd chauf.; P.F.C. Sidney F. Pedigo, P.F.C. Frank D. West, P.F.C. Charles Smith, Pvt. Jesse Baggett, Pvt. Robert E. Hapkins, Pvt. James O. Hill, Pvt. Andrew Karpik, Pvt. Mark H. Earle, Pvt. John Lamont.

Station No. 2: Sergt. Robert Payne, P.F.C. Flint D. Bingham, P.F.C. Charles E. Youngblood, Pvt. George A. Brown, P.F.C. Mark W. Parker, Pvt. Orville G. May, Pvt. George White, Pvt. Herman G. Miller, Pvt. Arthur Fielding, Pvt. William F. Cumming.

Station No. 3: Sergt. Michael T. Mason, P.F.C. Arthur Foley, P.F.C. Luther Waddell, P.F.C. Leonard Deuctcon, Pvt. James J. Gotely, Pvt. Herbert C. Landrum, Pvt. Robert L. Sarran, Pvt. Courney Barker, Pvt. Marion Anderson.

Station No. 4: Tech. Sergt. Tony Huege (attached); Sergt. W.Z. Zapadnik (attached); P.F.C. Eddie Eddyhouse; P.F.C. Carl Hanmann, P.F.C. Carl L. Storey, Pvt. Robert E. Hunt, Pvt. Jack P. Stout, Pvt. Nicholas J. Sassano.

Fire inspector, Chester A. Carter.

San Antonio Express (San Antonio, Texas) Jan 28, 1923

This article pretty much repeats  a lot of what is in the above article in regards to fire equipment etc.


Joseph L. Hogan Prefers to Direct Army Firemen to Handling City’s Department.

Being chief of Fort Sam Houston’s fire department appeals more to Joseph L. Hogan than does heading the department of San Antonio.

Persistent rumors that Chief Hogan had been tendered the position of head of the city’s fire department, made vacant by the resignation Tuesday of Chief A.J. Goetz, was confirmed Wednesday afternoon, at least to the extent that Chief Hogan admitted that he had been approached tentatively on the subject and had refused to consider a change of positions.

“It would not be proper to say that I had been offered the position,” said Chief Hogan. “However, it is true that I have been approached not alone by one but by several persons to confer with me to ascertain whether, if it were offered me I would take the position of chief of the San Antonio department. It appeared plain to me that if I wanted the position I could get it, but I have refused even to consider leaving the Fort Sam Houston department.

“I may appear strange to some people that I take this attitude, but my reasons are easy to see. In the first place the position I now hold is based on merit alone. I feel fairly sure that so long as I am able to furnish an efficient fire-fighting organization at Fort Sam Houston I can hold it. There is not a great difference in salary, while free medical attention, and other services which I receive in the position as army chief practically make up the difference.

Political Angle Displeases.

“On the other hand, if I go into the city fire department there is first of all to be considered the fact that it is a political appointment and politics is capricious. I might hold that position just as long as I hold this at the fort, but the political angle spoils it from my point of view.”

Chief Hogan announced that he was a strong supporter of J.G. Sarran, now assistant chief and acting chief of the department for appointment.

Chief Hogan was connected with the San Antonio fire department for a period of nine years, joining about the same time as former Chief Goetz until working up from call man to truck captain. While in that position Hogan quit the fire department to become a lieutenant in the army during the war with Germany.

Hogan Has Five Stations.

When it was decided to have a real fire department at Fort Sam Houston, Hogan was chosen chief on his merit and was given charge of training the men of Wagon Company No. 4 was a department. He is responsible for the efficiency of the fire department, while Lieut. T.J. Weed, fire marshal, oversees maintenance of ?_____.

Under the chief at Fort Sam Houston are four fire stations in the Fort Sam Houston area and one at Camp Stanley. In addition to a personnel of non-commissioned officers and privates chosen on a basis of personal merit from various organizations in the garrison, the chief brought with him to the fort’s department three other civilians, all former members of the San Antonio department and thoroughly conversant with how to best drill the men under them as fire-fighters. In addition to the four civilians there are three sergeants, three corporals and 84 enlisted men in the department. Equipment includes seven pieces of apparatus, all motorized, ranging from a Dodge car used by Chief Hogan to a large Fox-Ahrens pumper. Supplementing these are approximately 40 hand reels in all parts of the post and 20,000 feet of standard fire hose.

Under Chief Hogan the efficiency of the fire department is kept at top notch by constant watchfulness and drills.

San Antonio Express (San Antonio, Texas) Apr 26, 1923

Judge Roy Bean: The Law West of The Pecos

August 29, 2009

Roy Bean was for ten years in the young days of Texas justice of the peace and coroner of the town of Vinegar Roon, being, as he expressed it, “the law of Texas west of the Pecos.”

He is still living in the town of Langtry, 300 miles west of San Antonio. No man know whence he came. The railroad builders found him away out there on the great desert plains, and when the gamblers and toughs and tenderfeet came along with the first trains and at once proceeded to run the country according to their own notions old Roy Bean declared himself a justice of the peace and boldly announced, “I am the law of Texas west of the Pecos.” It is highly probable that a few people who were in favor of law and order invited the strange character to assume the judicial position and that on account of his desperate courage and fearless judicial demeanor he afterward was appointed to fill the office of justice of the peace.

Early one morning it was reported in the town of Vinegar Roon that a man had fallen from a bridge near the place and that his dead body was lying on the ground close to the water. Roy Bean, as justice of the peace and exofficio coroner, at once summoned a jury. There was no testimony to be taken. The man was a stranger, and it was not easy to determine the cause of his death. He might have fallen from the bridge or he might have been murdered. The coroner searched the dead body, and when he found a pistol in one pocket and $50 in the other he turned to the jury and informed them that in this matter their services were of no value, since it would be necessary for the court to render a verdict without their aid. The court fined the dead man $50 for carrying a pistol and took possession of the money, since the fees of the coroner amounted to just $50, and the body was buried on the lonely prairie at the expense of the county.

Vinegar Roon was named after the most poisonous little reptile that infests the western plains, says the New York Press. It can sting a Gila monster to death in the twinkling of an eye and then turn about and chase a rattlesnake from his den. Chain lightning whisky is no antidote for the poison of the vinegar roon. Roy Bean named the place, and while acting justice of the peace he divided his time between the judicial bench and a roomy saloon and gambling house, where there was none to dispute his authority, for he was sole proprietor.

One fine day a gambler, while in an unusually hilarious mood, sent a pistol ball crashing through the brains of a Chinaman. When the citizens of Vinegar Roon had ceased to celebrate the exit of the Celestial and the funeral solemnities were an affair of the past, the killer was honored with a request to appear at the bar where liquids and justice were dispensed alternately.

The sage who was “the law of Texas west of the Pecos” had evidently devoted some spare moments to the study of his first murder case, for the judgment that was rendered and entered on the docket is certainly without a parallel.

“I have carefully examined the criminal statutes of Texas,” said Roy Bean, “and I find that there is plenty of law to punish one white man for another, but there is no law to punish a citizen of Texas for shooting a Chinaman. In fact, the Chinese are not mentioned in the statutes. The gentleman at the bar stands charged with having shot and killed a Chinaman by the name of Ah Foo. Mr. Ah Foo was unfortunate. He should have remained in his own country. Texas is the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is no place for Mr. Ah Foo or Mr. Ah Sin or Mrs. Ah Sin. Our wise legislators have failed to make laws for the protection of pigtails. Therefore the defendant is discharged, and the costs of this case are assessed against the deceased, Ah Foo, and in case the same cannot be collected in full by the sale of the goods and chattels of the said Ah Foo, or some other Chinaman, it is the order of this court that a copy of these proceedings be made and forwarded to the United States minister in China, and by these presents he is authorized to collect said costs from the emperor of China. The defendant is discharged.”

One day a man with an immense sombrero above his long, tangled hair and an arsenal at his belt appeared at Vinegar Roon, declaring that he had just stopped over to have a little recreation.

“I have been spending a few weeks in San Antonio,” he said, “and my shooting irons were getting rusty.”

After taking a few drinks at the bar he began to berate the mild and feeble qualities of the liquids offered for sale in the infant city.

“Give me a little tarantula juice with a real vinegar roon floating around in it!” shouted this Arizona terror.

“All right,” calmly replied the old behind the bar. “I think we can accommodate you, but you will have to wait a few moments.”

“Well, get up the beverage,” roared the terror, “and I’ll amuse myself during the delay by dropping a few bullets around promiscuously among the lamps and bottles and sich things.”

“As you please,” suavely replied the old man. “I like to see a stranger enjoy himself.”

The terror glanced at the polite barkeeper rather suspiciously, but he never once dreamed that he was talking to old Roy Bean.

Fairly chuckling with suppressed merriment, old Roy went out on the plains only a few steps from his saloon and after turning over two or three rocks he got a big tarantula and a monster vinegar roon. After mashing the heads of the poisonous reptiles he returned to the barroom, entering the door just as the terror with a wild Comanche yell began to rain lead among the bottle and glasses.

As the patrons of the house started through the doors and windows in confusion, old Roy shouted:

“Keep your seats, gentlemen. This infant cyclone will be of sort duration.”

The next instant the terror found himself standing on his head and his weapons were falling upon the floor. Mr. Bean held the amazed man in that position until an accomplished bartender had filled a large beer glass with pure alcohol, and then he reversed the terror as if he had been handling a toy.

“Now, look here, stranger,” said Mr. Bean, in tender but deceptive tones, “you have been finding fault with the quality of my whisky and you have seen proper, to satisfy your fastidious taste, to order a peculiar drink which I have taken the trouble to prepare for you.”

The terror turned his white face toward the bar, and when he saw a tarantula and a vinegar roon floating about in a tumbler of alcohol he uttered a groan of distress and his knees began to tremble.

“There is the peculiar drink and trimmings that you ordered, young man, and my name is Roy Bean,” said the old man, as he pushed the trembling terror toward the bar.

The amazed and thoroughly alarmed stranger found voice enough to beg for mercy.

“Drink every drop of it or I will break your neck,” said Judge Bean.

The poor devil gulped down the awful mixture and with a scream of terror sprang out into the street. He “hit the earth a-running,” and he never slackened his speed until the town of Vinegar Roon was far behind him. It is supposed that the man’s stomach instantly rejected the fearful poison, for he lied to tell of his experience in Vinegar Ron, though he said there was not gold enough in the world to hire him to revisit the place.

Newark Daily Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Oct 6, 1900


What the Newspapers Throughout Texas Are Talking About.

The Uvalde News says:

Last Monday Harry Webb, one of the Southern Pacific barge men, to amuse himself brought crackers to feed Judge Bean’s immense bear. The animal would come to the end of the chain, receive a cracker and turn a somersault, to Mr. Webb’s infinite amusement. Judge Bean finally remonstrated, telling the man to go out and “monkey with the donkeys,” as they wouldn’t hurt him. Mr. Webb bought another dollar’s worth of crackers and fed the long-eared animals for a time, but protested there was no fun in that and returned to Bruin, who, no doubt, was feeling injured. Finally a cracker was dropped and Webb stooped over to pick it up. The bear thought he intended taking it away from him and reached over with his mighty paw, caught the man back of the head, and pulled him into the ring. He tore the man’s scalp off, from neck to crown, as cleanly as an Indian could have done it, and was proceeding to further deeds of destruction when Judge Bean, attracted by the victim’s frantic yell, uttered a war whoop and landed directly on the bear’s back. The animal knew his master and cowed instantly.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Jul 27, 1891


A Judge Arrested for Smuggling

SAN ANTONIO, Tex., Aug. 24. — Judge Roy Bean, of Langley, has been arrested for smuggling. It is alleged that he has been concerned in running horses from Mexico into the United States. He is one of the most celebrated characters of the frontier, and has been justice of the peace for many years. He has been accustomed to enforce his ruling with the six-shooter. Once when justice of the peace in Bexar county he sentenced a man to death by hanging for horse stealing, and the criminal would have hanged if not for the intervention of the officers from San Antonio. Bean is 60 years old and wealthy.

Mitchell Daily Republican (Mitchell, South Dakota) Aug 24, 1891


Judge Roy Bean Disposes Of a Big Docket.

Langtry, Tex., May 19. — Judge Roy Bean, chief justice of the district of Vinegaroon and the hero of many a thrilling border experience in court and camp, has recently been entertaining Judge Falvey of El Paso, whom he enlightened as to the practical and effective methods of dealing out justice in his jurisdiction. Judge Bean had no long before had as a guest Hon. H.C. Carter of San Antonio, to whom Del Rio lays claim because he embarked upon his professional career there and was at one time county attorney, making a splendid record as a successful and able lawyer.

When Judge Falvey came down from El Paso, Judge Bean met him not far from the seat of justice at Vinegaroon, escorted him to town and invited him to occupy a seat on the bench with him as he was about to open court. Judge Falvey accepted the invitation with expressions of pleasure, and court was opened in due and solemn form.

The first case called was one in which a man had made an affidavit charging another with shooting at him with a pistol, the bullet missing affiant’s head barely an inch. Judge Bean remarked that he had seen the two men drinking together during the morning with every indication of good will toward each other and asked:

“You are friends, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” replied the man who had made the affidavit.

“Then I fine you $50 each,” firmly announced the judge.

“But, my dear judge,” interrupted Judge Falvey, “this man is charged with a penitentiary offense.”

“That’s all right,” responded the court.

“All we can do with these fellows here is to fine them. IF I was to send them up to Fort Stockton it would require a journey of 200 miles by rail and 60 miles more by land and it would bankrupt the county to feed them. The fine assessed by this court will stand.”

The next case was that of a man brought in by Sergt. Lindsey, charged with having “rolled” another.  Judge Bean, thinking perhaps Judge Falvey would not understand the expression “rolled” called on the sergeant for an explanation. The sergeant gave it, saying that the term “rolled” meant that a man caught asleep or too drunk to take care of himself has his money and valuables taken out of his pockets or off his person. It was the border term for theft from the person. The prisoner in this case, he said, had taken two $20 bills and some silver from his victim’s pockets and the bills were produced and laid on the judge’s table as incriminating evidence.

Judge Bean demanded of the prisoner to tell what he had done with the silver and the latter replied that he had spent it on the guard.

“Then,” said the cort, “I fine you both $10 a piece and if I catch you around here within two hours I will feed you on bread and water and chain you to a stake.”

“This man is also guilty of a penitentiary offense, judge,” said Judge Falvey, who had listened closely to the proceedings.

“I can’t help that,” returned the chief justice, “that is all the way this court can be run.”

While Judge Falvey was sitting with Judge Bean he saw some 15 or 20 cases disposed of in like manner and when he told the people there, referring to his visit at Vinegaroon,

“Gentlemen, you have the right man in the right place.”

It is said that in reading closely Judge Bean’s famous decisions is to be attributed in a large degree the success achieved by Attorney Carter in his profession and by the way, it is said, note of these decisions has ever been reversed. Though, possibly that is due to the fact that the dispenser of justice at Vinegaroon never allows appeals from the decisions of his court.

Judge Falvey asked Judge Bean if the report was true that he allowed no appeals and the answer given by Judge Bean was that no appeals were granted because all the contractors in that vicinity were transients; all their personal effects and chattels were mortgaged and they could not give a solvent bond as required by law when appeal is taken.

When the evening’s session was over, Judge Bean escorted his guest to Eagle Nest, a string band leading the way and enlivening the journey with soft music. That night the judge gave a dinner at his saloon at Eagle Nest in honor of his visitor and things were made pleasant all around.

THE SAN ANTONIO DAILY EXPRESS (San Antonio, Texas) May 21, 1899


Once Proud Seat of “Law West of Pecos” is Now Crumbling Ruins.


Town’s Name, Eagle’s Nest, Vanishes From Map and Only Memory Remains of the Judge and His Rulings.

San Antonio, Tex. — With its foundation posts wobbling like old men’s legs, its floors showing ugly gaping holes, its porch roof shorn of the last lingering board, scraggy bits of what was once white paint hanging to the outer walls, and its door banging to a single rusty hinge — at Langtry, Tex., once known as Eagle’s Nest — what remains of one of Texas’ most famous old landmarks is succumbing to wind and rain.

It is the once proud seat of the “Law West of the Pecos” — the old home and saloon and throne where, not so many years ago, Judge Roy Bean lived and reigned supreme as dispenser of justice and red eye liquor, and dared the world to interfere with his game.

But since Judge Bean went away there had been a great change. Perhaps it is just as well that he “cashed in” — as he himself probably would express it — before the days when nowhere in the whole of Texas can the traveler find a drop to drink.

In the “Good Old Days.”

Many humorous and many semi-tragic stories regarding Judge Bean have been handed down by friends and relatives, many of whom are living in or adjacent to San Antonio today. It was in a day when enforcers of the law were few and far between, and when the men with the quickest trigger finger and the steadiest nerve were monarchs of a large portion of what they surveyed.

Bean was justice of the peace of precinct No. 6 and the ranking representative of the law for hundreds of miles north, south, east and west of him. Equipped with a copy of the statutes of Ohio of the vintage of 1885, a sense of fair play, and a strong conviction of what the law should be even though it were not so written down in the books, he put up his sign:

Judge Roy Bean,
Justice of the Peace,
Law West of the Pecos.

In addition to being chief magistrate over everything “West of the Pecos,” Judge Bean conducted a thirst-quenching emporium typical of the day. The saloon was in the hall of justice, and from behind the bar came the voice of authority backed by a brace of perfectly good six-shooters.

Judge Bean’s “Law.”

Two Mexican men and women walked into Judge Bean’s court one day and informed him that they wanted a change; that they wanted to swap helpmeets. The judge made diligent inquiries of each of the four, found all to be of the same mind, charged each of the men $15 and a dozen bottles of beer and called it done.

When a state official from Austin on a flying visit to “Eagle’s Nest” complained to Judge Bean that he was exceeding his authority, explaining that divorces should be passed up to a higher court, Bean alleged to have retorted:

“Why, say! Have I ever butted into your affairs? These people wanted to sway, they paid me for changin’ ’em around, they’re livin’ together pu’fectly happy, an’ nobody ’round here has complained. You go on back to Austin an’ handle your courts like you want to, but this is out o’ your jurisdiction.”

THE IOWA CITY DAILY CITIZEN (Iowa City, Iowa) Dec 22, 1919

Judge Bean Incident heading1911
To J.W. Schofield, city salesman of A.B. Frank % Company, belongs the distinction of having served as clerk in “Judge” Roy Bean’s court when “Law west of the Pecos,” had application to all classed of cases, civil and criminal, and the “Judge” power to render judgment extending all the way from the imposition of a petty fine, to the pronunciation of the death penalty.

The honor is not to be lightly construed. Mr. Schofield is the only person known to have officiated in the dispensation of justice in the most unique court in the history of judicial procedure. It was in every sense a high honor, for Judge Roy Bean, as was becoming his unusual prerogative, alone and unaided administered the “law” of his court. But the case under consideration was one in which the defendant threatened an appeal in the event the case went against him. Under the circumstances Judge Bean thought best to comply with the wishes of the attorney for the defense and Mr. Schofield was appointed to act as clerk.

Business Rivalry Cause.

The case was the result of the rivalry which existed between Judge Bean’s saloon and that of J.P. Torres.

In the spring of 1893, Mr. Schofield visited Langtry in the capacity of drummer of one of the San Antonio houses. D. Hart, a prominent sheepman of West Texas was preparing at the time, to pay off 200 or more sheep shearers who had been engaged to shear the animals. In anticipation of reaping some of the benefits of this spurt of prosperity, Judge Bean had laid in an extra stock of beer and whiskey. His rival was no slow to follow his lead.

The Mexican shearers arrived, and went in droves to the “Jersey Lily,” Judge Bean’s saloon. Satisfaction spread over his face as he looked over at the almost empty place of his rival.

Stealing a March.

But Torres was not easily outwitted. He had a partner running a saloon with a dance hall in connection at Flanders, the point where the railroad gang engaged in the construction of the Pecos bridge was camped. Torres dispatched a messenger to him with instructions to bring the dancing girls at Flanders to Langtry, accompanied by the orchestra. The move was not known to Judge Bean, if it had been, an injunction restraining Torres from bringing the women and the music to his place would have been issued immediately.

Soon after the arrival of the dancers, strains of music issued from Torres’ place to the accompaniment of shifting feet. The crowd of Mexicans in Judge Bean’s saloon, one by one, raised their lips from the glasses, and in crowds departed to the scene of revelry.

Judge Bean scratched his head and called for his friend, Mr. Schofield.

Not in Accord With Law.

“Now look here, Schofield, it ain’t in keeping with justice that all this amount of beer I have imported for this occasion should go to waste,” he said. “It ain’t economy, and it ain’t accordin’ to the statutes of the State of Texas.”

“I’ll just pull Torres for conducting a disorderly house. There are more ways than one of doing business,” he said, while deputizing several cowpunchers to arrest Torres, and bring him before the honorable court of the law west of the Pecos.

Following the arrest of Torres, his place was closed down, and the shearers returned to the “Jersey Lily,” while the case of the State of Texas versus J.P. Torres, was duly docketed and called for trial.

Threatens Appeal.

Mr. Cunningham, inspector of customs, stationed at Langtry, appeared for the defendant, and demanded a jury. He also informed Judge Bean that in the even the case went against his client in the lower court an appeal would be taken. He was in turn informed that the decisions of Judge Bean’s court were conclusive and final and no such thing as a appeal had even been heard of. Mr. Cunningham insisted that the appeal would be taken, and Judge Bean called on Mr. Schofield for assistance.

In making the appointment, Judge Bean said, “I’ve got to have you for a clear, because there ain’t anyone around here can write.”

While Mr. Schofield agreed to serve as clerk, his intentions were to leave on the night train. Just as he was in the act of boarding the train, however, a ranger stepped up to him and asked if he had not been appointed to act as clerk. Mr. Schofield admitted that such was the case. Upon this the ranger then told him that he had better remain and perform his duties. Mr. Shofield agreed with the ranger when he caught sight of two bit six-shooters that looked like business.

The Trial.

In the morning the case was called for trial.

Mr. Cunningham, having a smattering of law, got the best of the argument, and put Judge Bean to rout on several legal points. Whenever the judge was unable to reply to the sallies of Mr. Cunningham, he would hold up the only law book he had, which was a statute of the state, and say:

“If what you say is the law, and is in the book, and ain’t a good law, then I’ll tear it out of the book.”

Mr. Schofield who was busily engaged in performing the usual duties of the clerk, in addition to taking and subscribing testimony, realized that the case was going against the judge. In the end the jury disagreed and it being impossible to secure another, the case was dropped for the time being.

A year later Judge Bean, on a visit to the city, met Mr. Schofiled, who naturally, was still greatly interested in the case.

Judge Bean Won.

“Well I finally got the best of Torres,” he told him.

“A jack-leg lawyer turned up in Langtry broke some time ago, and in discussing the case with him, I found out that Cunningham had no right to practice law. The lawyer told me if he did not have a license he had no right to defend Torres. After that things looked easy. I called on Torres and told him that I had him. The thing I sprung on him was, that I had discovered that Cunningham did not have a license to practice law, and therefore his action in defending him was illegal and contrary to the constitution of the state and the United States, and if he wanted to plead guilty, it would cost him $25, but if he did not, then I would try him again and stick him the limit. Torres came across and paid the $25.”

Judge Bean had at this time run afoul of the real law, by giving divorce degrees to two Mexican hombres in order that they might exchange wives. In discussing the case, Judge Bean gave expression to an axiom which he alone has ever been able to understand, “Law,” he said to Mr. Schofield, “is the true dispensation of justice.”

Hitting a Snag.

“The two Mexicans,” he explained, “appeared before me and secured a license to marry. I issued the license and married them. About four months later the same men came to me again and said they wanted to be divorced so that they could exchange wives. They said that in marrying they had married the wrong women, and had now concluded that their difficulties could be solved by being divorced and re-married. I granted the divorce, and swapped the wives around for them.

“It was not long after this that the county judge at Fort Stockton got wind of the proceedings and called on me at Langtry.

“He informed me I had exceeded my authority, and that he would be compelled to arrest me and take me to the jail at Fort Stockton. I finally succeeded in getting the judge to remain over night in Langtry, and knowing he was fond of playing poker, I sent out for some of my boys.

“The judge had about twenty dollars with him, which he soon lost. Of course, I supplied him with money from time to time, and when daylight came the judge owed me about $500.

“He called for his horse and rode away without mentioning anything more about the criminal proceedings against me for granting the divorce, and I did not remind him of the money he had borrowed from me. After he had gone, the boys came around and gave me back my money.”

“Texas certainly lost a unique character by the death of Roy Bean, some three or four years ago, ” said Mr. Schofield.

THE SAN ANTONIO LIGHT (San Antonio, Texas) Nov 26, 1911

Judge Bean jersey lilly pic1 1934

Famed Pecos Judge Shocked S.A.

For 20 years before he became law west of the Pecos, the famed Judge Roy Bean shocked San Antonio with sensational scandals and gave his name to part of the south side.

South of Concepcion park along Flores, where the colorful adventurer played Robin Hood to his friends and reveled in comic glory, became known as Beanville.

His escapades kept the courts busy but his legal footwork was so expert he was never convicted on any charge brought again him. Finally, a harried friend paid him to leave town and stay away.


The portly man with a heavy black beard came to San Antonio during the Civil was and made a quick fortune running the union blockade by smuggling cotton to Mexico.

Deciding German and American society was too formal for him, Bean donned a sombrero and moved to the west side in 1866, squatting in a shack on San Pedro creek.

After a run of bad luck his creditors attached his hauling equipment and the sheriff prepared to sell it. Feeling the pinch in his pocketbook from lack of wagons, Bean simply stole his equipment back and the case was closed without further action.


Bean’s unwilling landlord then ordered him to pay back rent for the shack or move out. Bean refused and went to court again. After months of legal stalling, the owner gave in and compromised by moving Bean’s belongings to another house, giving him a jug of whisky and paying him $3000 for inconveniences.

Bean then moved to S. Flores and the area took the name of Beanville. Pundits called it Dogtown because of the extreme poverty of the residents and because all the curs on the south side were starving to death.

The temporarily wealthy Bean next created a society sensation by marrying Virginia Chavez, a descendant of on of San Antonio’s original Canary island families. He settled down to a quiet married life for a few months, but was soon back in court.


In 1867 his wife charged him with assault. She said he came home drunk, took a flaming stick from the fire, chased her out of bed and burned her backside severely.

The case rocked society and Bean got a change of venue to Boerne. At the trial he demanded his wife show the jury her scars, and when she refused the judge dismissed the case.

Bean next turned woodsman. He was hired to keep poachers off a lumber mill’s property, but made more money selling to a competitor on the side.

When the deception was uncovered, he became a dairy farmer. He bought a herd of milk cows on approval, but because of a drouth they starved to death.


Butchering was his next vocation. Bean hired boys to steal stray horses and cows and peddled the meat from door to door. He opened a saloon on the side and went broke in both enterprises.

His last venture was a return to freighting, but he killed a man in a duel in Mexico and closed shop again.

A posse of deputy marshals camped in Beanville in 1875 and convinced the 56-year-old man he should seek his fortune in the wide open west. He lacked the money to go, but a neighbor, who wanted  to be rid of him, bought his worthless business just to get him to leave.


As a parting gesture he made a southsiders promise to keep the name of Beanville and departed from San Antonio saying:

“They say there’s no law west of the Pecos. Well, there’s too much law around San Antonio.”

He settled at a railroad construction camp called Vinegarroon and opened a tavern which he advertised widely in south Texas. In 1882 he was made a justice of the peace and began his climb into legend as a judge, a sportsman and platonic friend of Lily Langtry.

SAN ANTONIO LIGHT (San Antonio, Texas) Oct 24, 1954

Judge Bean Lillie Langtry pic 1934


Law West of the Pecos

By EVERETT LLOYD (excerpt from chapter two)

Contrary to general belief, Roy Bean was not personally acquainted with the celebrated English actress, Lillie Langtry, and she did not visit the town supposed to have been named in her honor until after Bean’s death. That he had a long-distance admiration for her, and even wrote to her and received a reply, we know from the statements of the famous beauty in her autobiography.

The most plausible explanation of Bean’s admiration for Lillie Langtry is that at the time she was a world celebrity; her picture and stories of her triumphs and love affairs were in every newspaper; and the station of Langtry having already been named, it is more than probably that Bean in a spirit of levity and partly as a hoax, informed her that he had named his town in her honor, and it was natural that she should feel flattered. A few years later when the opportunity came during one of her American tours, the citizens of Langtry being aware of Bean’s fancied or pretended acquaintance with the great actress, and having heard him read her reply to his letter, invited her to pay the town a visit on her way to California and she accepted.

Amarillo Daily News (Amarillo, Texas) Aug 1, 1940

Famous people in the photo above include Judge Roy Bean, Wyatt Earp, Butch Cassidy and Teddy Roosevelt.