Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Law West of the Pecos

Langtry, Texas

President Obama just sent me another E-mail. This one is linked to a video about the new Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. The President invites me to "Digg", "Tweet", or "Facebook" his video. How cool is that?

Meanwhile we cross the Pecos and I walk over some bridge construction from the West side to snap a picture of the confluence of the Pecos and Rio Grande rivers. Unfortunately, I've left my shutter speed at about a full second and the first few morning pictures are bright white.

Langtry is a few miles West of the Pecos, where another Judge, Roy Bean, held court. It's a very small, dusty town on the Rio Grande. My GPS doesn't know it exists. The Judge moved to Langtry with a tent and ten 55 gallon barrels of whiskey. The Texas Rangers asked him to serve as Justice of the Peace in this lawless area.

Many of his customers were Irishmen and Chinamen working on the railroad though Texas. He was trying an Irishman for the shooting death of a Chinaman, when his courthouse was surrounded by Irish threatening to lynch him if he found the defendant guilty. After consulting his one lawbook, he stated that it said that while it was against the law to kill a human being, the law was silent on the subject of Chinamen. The defendant was acquited.

In another famous legal decision, he ruled on a corpse found with 41 dollars and a Smith & Wesson revolver. He said that it was against the law to carry a concealed weapon, especially so for a dead man. Therefore, he confiscated the revolver and fined the corpse 41 dollars.

The Judge was infatuated with the singer "Jersey Lilly" Langtry, to whom he wrote many letters. He called his home above an "Opera House" in the hope of luring her to Langtry. Eventually Lilly did visit Langtry, in 1904, a year after Bean's death.

Once. financier Jay Gould was scheduled to pass though Langtry on the railroad. The Judge stopped the train with an emergency flare and Gould spent several hours drinking with Bean. This caused a brief financial panic when rumors circulated that Gould had been killed in a train wreck. We put some miles on yesterday. We're in Fort Davis, the highest point in Texas. We'll stay a few days. There's a lot to see here.


  1. so did you see our friends...sil

  2. DEAR SIL,

    We asked at the Roy Bean center and they said that there were no 5th wheels in the RV park. One has to wonder why anyone would stay in Langtry for an extended period.