|Alma Alston in
front of The Jersey Lilly Saloon in 1930
Photo courtesy Colin Patterson
Roy Bean Visitor Center (915-291-3340)
is open daily, except major holidays. The sign says 8:00 to 5:00,
and they opened at 7:59 the day of our visit. Well done, Langtry Visitor's
The Jersey Lilly Saloon / Courtroom adjoins the Visitor's
Center. "Plain and weathered" would describe the building. It's the
"before" photograph in a before-and-after deck stain commercial.
|The Jersey Lilly
Saloon and Judge
Roy Bean's courtroom - built on the railroad right of way.
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
of The Pecos, Langtry, Texas"
The Jersey Lilly on a linen postcard, circa 1940s
Courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
on the Pecos
the saloon wasn't pretty, but it was colorful. Besides his duties
as Law-West-of-the-Pecos, Roy
Bean was also a director - using a cast of characters recruited
from Langtry's human resources. One day you might be in the audience;
another day you might be in the cast. One day a defendant - next
day a jurist. But one thing never changed - Roy
Bean was in charge. If it wasn't for his wry sense of humor,
he might've made a good dictator.
Of course the
humor depended on if it was you or someone else on trial. The law
depended on which side of the
Pecos and the Westside was Roy Bean Territory.
Photo courtesy Bryan D Reynolds, April 2010
The town dates
to 1881 when a silver spike was driven by the railroad commemorating
the completion of the line. Among the people fighting for the spike
after the ceremony was the Honorable Judge
Most of the town's inhabitants moved from the village of Vinegarroon
that was located at the juncture of the Rio Grande and Pecos Rivers.
The name comes from a local arachnid more commonly known as a "whip-tail
scorpion" that emits a vinegary smell when you squash it while putting
on your boots. A 19th century print of a vinegarroon is in the visitor's
center - and even as an arachnid - it's uglier than most.
Langtry was probably named after a civil engineer working for the
railroad, but the story that people would rather believe is that Roy
Bean had a schoolboy crush on Miss Lillie Langtry and
named it in her honor.
Speaking of honor, Bean's
title of "Judge" was a little inflated. He was a Justice
of the Peace and even that is debated. He may just have just been
an extroverted notary public. In addition to his duties as "judge"
he was also coroner for the railroad.
Most of the land in town belonged to a Mr. Torres who operated a store
and restaurant - Bean
sort of squatted on the railroad right-of-way. Torres was a patient
and pacific man and gave Bean
a wide berth - perhaps in deference to Bean's
See also Langtry:
A West Texas Love Story by Michael Barr
Roy half of the Brothers Frijoles
(Roy with beard next to cyclist)
|The Jersey Lilly
Photo courtesy Bryan D Reynolds, 2007
courtesy Bryan D Reynolds, April 2010
Center at Langtry has many displays of Beanabilia, including
his pistol/gavel (with appropriately cracked butt) which came to be
owned by Ms. Langtry herself. The "Jersey Lily" couldn't
think of a way to include it in her act and so she donated it to the
town. She was well aware she was supposedly the town's namesake -
had been sending her fan letters for years. She couldn't find
room in her schedule to visit the town, and when her train finally
did pull into Langtry - Bean
The town today
offers some interesting photo opportunities, particularly early
morning. East of the visitor's center is the Langtry Baptist
Church, still in use two Sundays a month. The land immediately
south of 90 at the eastern entrance to town was formerly a tourist
camp and the variety of cacti specimens scattered on the rocky slopes
of the canyon is amazing. Also visible are the limestone bridge
supports for the old railroad route. Watch out for vinegarroons.
Del Rio Hotels
TE photo, 2000
Route, Mile Creek Canyon.
Crossed Three Miles East of Langtry, Texas"
1907 postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
My parents & grandparents ran the old Mobil station/cafe/truck stop
(now called the "Langtry Depot"), from 1957-71. At that time, there
were around 40-50 residents. My younger brother and I both grew
up there and attended the elementary school, that at that time,
had grades 1-4 in one room, and grades 5-8 in another. We knew Vashti
Skiles very well, her son Jack who back then ran the Roy Bean visitor's
center in the late `60s, and her whole family there in Langtry for
many years--she was in fact my first teacher. Like a lot of other
kids at the time, I also later on rode the school bus 60 miles round
trip every day to attend high school over in Comstock
until I graduated in 1970. I remember Marsha Askins always had the
longest trip--about 100 miles each way daily. We were also well
acquainted with many of the ranchers from around the surrounding
area for miles around, since we all went to school with their children,
as well as being granted permission from the landowners to do some
hunting & fishing on several of the ranches around there on both
the Pecos and Rio Grande rivers. - Alan R. Taylor, November 20,
1930 Photo of my mother at
the Judge Roy Bean House on her way (by car) to California
I found this old photo of my mother after she graduated from Baylor
and took a trip with one of her fellow graduates to California,
They stopped in Langtry and her friend took my mother's picture
in front of Judge Roy Bean's place. The sign behind my mother's
right shoulder says Property of Texas Highway Dept. The place was
fenced off from the public and the roof had big gaps in the shingles.
It wasn't kept up at all in 1930. My mother's name at the time was
Alma Alston. She was born in Troup
Texas in 1904. - Colin Patterson, October 20, 2012
I just Google'd Langtry, Tx and had the pleasure to find your website.
I cannot tell you how much I enjoy your work. We are winter Texans
and enjoy the great state of Texas and your website has just made
it a lot easier to decide where to make our stops. We are currently
staying at Del Rio
and exploring Lake Amistad, I love old westerns and was excited
to see how close we were to Langtry. We are making a day trip to
the town today and your website has helped me, I know where to go
and what to see. Again Thank you for your great work. - Joe and
Donna Carpentier, January 15, 2008
Dear TE, I stumbled upon your magazine and found it interesting.
My family has roots in Langtry, Texas and my grandparents worked
on the Hamilton Ranch in Pumpville,
Texas in the 1920's. My grandparents owned and operated a Texaco
gas station on Hwy. 90 W with six motel rooms in the 1930's-1940's.
The family moved to Del
Rio, Texas in approximately 1947 but granddad still ran the
gas station while grandma and kids attended school and ran another
business in Del Rio.
The Langtry schoolhouse is now closed and the children now attend
classes in Comstock,
which is about 28 miles east of Langtry. The Schoolhouse is now
named "Vashti Skiles Community Center" after my great-aunt, who
taught school there for many years. The Community Center is used
for many things now, such as The Water Board meetings, monthly town
meetings, Bible Study, birthday parties, funeral services and an
annual "Old Settlers' Reunion" held in each April. The average attendance
for this reunion is about 130 people who travel from all over to
attend the weekend festivities and visit with family and old friends.
I believe there are [currently] only 14-15 residents of Langtry
but there are a lot of visitors daily and people in the surrounding
area drive to Langtry for their mail, to visit friends and attend
a church service every other weekend at the Baptist Church. The
last I heard, a visiting pastor or lay leader came to perform the
service from Comstock. I have attended several services there with
my family over the last several years. If anyone has any history,
information, etc. on this area to share, I would be happy to hear
from you. - Daina Skiles Schwartz, San Angelo, Texas, firstname.lastname@example.org,
June 27, 2007
I'm one of
former residents. In 1963, I was 9 years old and was in 3rd grade.
My family got stuck in Pumpville and the three kids were bussed
to a two-room schoolhouse in Langtry. ...
... When visiting Pumpville in 2000, the general store looked like
a tornado had hit it. I explored a bit and saw evidence of where
the phone company and post office had been. The trailer was gone,
but lo...the church had been totally remodeled, a surprise since
there seemed to be nobody in the area to attend it. I'm guessing
people living in nearby Langtry, a small town with a LOT of history,
notably the "Jersey Lilly" saloon and more in the fantastic tourist
information center, would likely be attendees. In 2002, it was in
Incidentally, the old two-room schoolhouse in Langtry was
still standing in 2002, but was closed down. I'm sure nothing has
changed. I even saw the old merry-go-round in the former playground.
Amazing. - Gil Davis, May 31, 2004
talk about the extensive desert garden exhibit at the Langtry
Visitor's Center - it's a shame you left this part out - its
the best part! and the inside interactive exhibit is superb!"
- Debra l. Beene, Archaeologist, Texas Historical Commission, October
old Torres Grocery Store which has since collapsed
TE photo, 2000
in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas,
asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic
photos, please contact