Don’t Drink The Water

My Great Uncle, Lee Wallace, a lawyer, writer and judge, was quite a “sport” and well known throughout our State. He was my Mother’s favorite Uncle and some of his exploits are near legendary.

Around the turn of the 20th century, Lee, County Attorney for Kerr County, Texas and another lawyer, decided they would go and visit one of Lee’s friends in Pecos, Texas, probably a hundred and fifty to two hundred mile trip. Remember, no interstates and very few cars then and their chosen mode of transportation was a team of horses, pulling their wagon.

Here Lee is shown with his “Sunday” rig.

A car trip from Kerrville to Langtry, even with our modern highways, is not easy today and in the early 1900’s, had to be a nightmare. To bolster their courage, along with their pistols, they took two cases of whiskey, one for their trip and one for Lee’s friend. Wouldn’t you know it, their wagon broke an axle near Rocksprings and their three to four day trip turned into a week.

Finally arriving in Langtry, with the whiskey gone, and no “gift” for Lee’s friend, his friend’s court was in session. The bar was closed, and they witnessed the strange brand of justice practiced by, Lee’s friend, Judge Roy Bean!

The complaint was by an Anglo rancher that one of his horses was stolen. Judge Bean brought out a Mexican man that was already in jail and said he must have done it. The jury found Mexican guilty and Judge Bean sent him back to jail for a longer term or a hanging (Lee never said). With the swift sentence, the bar quickly opened and warm greetings were exchanged.

After several days, with Lee’s visit and business completed, he and his fellow traveler loaded up for home. To bolster their courage for the grueling trip, Judge Bean presented them with two more cases of whiskey. Four days later, minus the whiskey, they arrived safely in Kerrville.

Back then, you had to be careful of the water you drank!