Born in Kentucky. A trader in Mexico, 1848. Mining in New Mexico when Civil War broke out. As spy and scout, joined Texans in the Command of Gen. John R. Baylor during the 1861-1862 Arizona-New Mexico Campaign. Organized irregular company called "Free Rovers". In a narrow canyon, took part in capture of 800 Federals by 250 Confederates. After 1862 was a Confederate freighter, hauling cotton to Matamoros from San Antonio and bringing into Texas wartime goods: guns, ammunition, medicines, cloth, shoes, food.
In 1882, began following with a tent saloon crews building railroad along the Rio Grande. Cooperating with Texas Rangers, was appointed justice of peace - "Law West of the Pecos". Tamed rough frontier town of Langtry, where he spent rest of his life. Won fame in unique court decisions, as in trial and fining of a dead man for carrying a concealed weapon. Most widely celebrated show he staged was Fitzsimmons-Maher world championship boxing match, on a Rio Grande sand bar near his saloon in 1896.
Court was held in the saloon, where he displayed pictures of "The Jersey Lily"—British actress Lily Langtry, whom he never met. She visited town at his invitation, but only after Judge Bean's death. (1965)