"No law west of..."
hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 11 08:58:55 UTC 2009
The 1893 site mentions the Sabine [River]. Down home, we pronounce
this "sae-BEEN." But I've heard tell that, in other references and
locales, the pronunciations are "SAY-bine" and "SAH-bin."
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
On Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 3:32 PM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
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> Poster: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject: "No law west of..."
> Have read or heard this formula more than once, but how "common" any versio=
> of it was in the Wild West is anybody's guess.
> Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the exx. are related to Kansas or Texas.
> The 1902 ex. seems to be the first appearance in print of Judge Roy Bean's
> famous motto, "Law West of the Pecos," as well as the seemingly older
> negative version. Bean (1825-1903) was appointed Justice of the Peace for
> Precinct 6, Pecos County, Tex., in 1882.
> 1874 _Wichita Weekly Beacon_ (Oct. 28), cited in Joseph G. Rosa _They
> Called Him Wild Bill_ (Norman: U. of Okla. Press, 1964) 135: [I]t was Wild
> Bill who said there was "no Sunday west of Junction City, no law west of
> Hays City, and no God west of Carson City."
> 1874 _Scribner's Monthly_ VIII (July) 280: Kansas City...was graceless
> enough to be thus touchingly characterized by one of the rude men of the
> frontier: "There's no railroad west of Junction City, no law west of Kansas
> City, and no God west of Hays' City."
> 1893 _Idaho Daily Statesman_ (Boise, Ida.) (Aug. 30) 6: The fugitives used
> to say there was no Sunday west of the Sabine, no law west of Trinity [sic]=
> and no God west of the Brazos.
> 1898 _Evening News_ (San Jose, Calif.) (Aug. 27) 7: This...reminded me of
> the formula in use in Texas when I was there in 1867: "There is no Sunday
> west of the Trinity, no law west of the Brazos and no God west of the
> 1902 _Fort Worth Telegram_ (Nov. 23) 17: So long have conditions of outlawr=
> existed in certain parts of the west, that it has passed into a proverb tha=
> "there is no law west of the Pecos" - a river in Texas that marks the
> boundary line between "God's country" and that of the "Greasers." But...now
> there is a law west of the Pecos, and Justice Roy Bean is that law.
> ca1902 in James D. Horan & Paul Sann _Pictorial History of the Wild West_
> (N.Y.: Crown, 1954) 139 [clearly legible signs in photo of Roy Bean's saloo=
> in Langtry, Tex.] : JUDGE ROY BEAN Notary Public LAW WEST OF THE PECOS.
> 1907 _ N.Y. Times_ (Oct. 26) BR684: [W]hen there was no law west of
> Independence and no God west of Dodge City.
> 1929 W.J. Ghent _The Road to Oregon_ (London: Longmans Green) 109: The old
> saying of trapper days that there was "no law west of Leavenworth" had no
> application to these moving communities.
> 1931 Stuart M. Lake _Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal_ (Boston: Houghton
> Mifflin) 3: Wyatt Earp, of the sixth American-born generation of his family=
> was destined to a time and territory of which it was written that there was
> no law west of Kansas City and, west of Fort Scott, no God.
> 1936 Lorrin A. Thurston _Writings_ (Honolulu: Advertiser Pub. Co.) 7:
> There was "no God and no law west of Cape Horn."
> 1936 Waldemar Young, Harold Lamb, & Lynn Riggs _The Plainsman_ (film):
> [Wild Bill Hickock *loq*.:] Well, there's no Sunday west of Junction City,
> no law west of Hays City and no God west of Carson City.
> 1939 Robert Buckner _Dodge City_ (film): They say there's no law west of
> Chicago. And west of Dodge City, no God!
> 1955 _Kansas Historical Qly._ XXI 588: [T]here was no law west of Dodge
> City and no God west of Fort Worth.
> 1959 Richard O'Connor _Wild Bill Hickock_ (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday)
> 145: Highhanded, yes, but there was "no law west of Abilene and no God west
> of Hays,"
> 1964 Irvin M. Peithmann _Broken Peace Pipes_ (Springfield, Ill.: Charles
> C. Thomas) 139: And so did the reminders of the days epitomized by the
> slogan, "West of Dodge City, no law=97 west of Virginia City, no God."
> 1966 Clark C. Spence _The American West_ (N.Y.: Thomas Y. Crowell) 404: Th=
> old adage "no law west of Abilene; no God west of Dodge City" is hardly an
> accurate description of conditions in the West.
> 1966 _Florence (S.C.) Morning News_ (June 3) 2-A: West of St. Louis Was No
> Law - West of Dodge Was No God.
> 1969 Marshall Fishwick _The Hero American Style_ (N.Y.: David McKay) 147:
> Everyone knew there was no law west of the Mississippi and no God west of
> the Pecos.
> 1970 Andrew J. Fenady _Chisum_ (film): You know, there's an old saying, Mis=
> Sally: "There's no law west of Dodge and no God west of the Pecos."
> 1970 _ Time_ (Aug. 3)
> http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,876710,00.html : "Well,"
> says one character, "everybody knows there's no law west of the Pecos and n=
> God west of Dodge."
> 1970 LeRoy R. Hafen, W. Eugene Hollon, & Carl Coke Rister _Western America_
> (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall) 370: Then the mines were reopened
> and the settlers who returned helped Arizona to establish its reputation as
> the toughest territory in the West. There was "no law west of the Pecos and
> no God west of Tucson."
> 1976 _Centralia (Wash.) Daily Chronicle_ (Apr. 24) W-7: And it was agreed
> that "There's no law west of Ellsworth - and no God west of Hays."
> 1983 Michael T. Kingston, Ruth Harris, & Erma Bailey _The Texas Almanac
> and State Industrial Guide 1984-1985_ (Dallas: A.H. Belo) 42: Legend hel=
> that there was no law west of the Pecos, and there was no God west of El
> 1985 Rodney Stark & William Sims Bainbridge _The Future of Religion_
> (Berkeley: U. of Calif. Press) 73: There is a saying from frontier times
> that "There's no law west of Dodge City, and no God west of Laramie.
> Frisco's west of both of them."
> 1986 Archie P. McDonald_The Texas Experience_ (Texas A&M Press) 72:"West
> of Kansas City there is no law; west of Dodge City there is no God" is a
> saying from the era of the Texas cattle drives.
> 1988 Michael Wallis _Oil Man_ (Rpt. N.Y.: Macmillan, 1995) 56: The common
> saying of those turbulent years in the territory was: "There's no God west
> of St. Louis and no law west of Fort Smith."
> 1992 in Annie Dillard _The Annie Dillard Reader_ (N.Y.: HarperCollins, 1994=
> 94: He knew that forty years ago in the west they used to say, "Ain't no
> law west of Saint Louis, and no God west of Fort Smith."
> 2000 Sara R. Massey _Black Cowboys of Texas_ (Texas A& M Press) 149: As one
> writer noted, there was "no law west of Kansas City [and] no God west of
> Fort Scott."
> 1997 Matt Braun _Doc Holliday: The Gunfighter_ (N.Y.: St. Martin's) 55: No
> law west of Fort Worth, and no God in west Texas.
> 2003 Warren Getler & Bob Brewer _Shadow of the Sentinel_ (N.Y.: Simon &
> Schuster) 4: The ill-defined border between frontier Arkansas and the India=
> Nations territory to the west was a haven for every fugitive from justice,
> giving rise to the maxim, "There is no law west of Little Rock, and no God
> west of Fort Smith."
> 2003 Cecil L. Milliner _Ports of Call_ (Lincoln, Neb.: iUniverse) 132: It
> was said there was "No law west of Abilene and no god west of the Pecos."
> 2003 Bill Harvey _Texas Cemeteries_ (Austin: U. of Texas Press) 112:
> Rangers were summoned to provide law enforcement in an area of which it was
> said, "West of the Pecos there is no law; west of El Paso, there is no God.=
> 2006 Chris Enss _How the West Was Worn: Bustles and Buckskins on the Wild
> Frontier_ (Guilford, Conn.: Globe Pequot Press) 64: I heard someone say
> that there was no Sunday west of Independence, no law west of Dodge City,
> and no God west of Fort Bridger.
> 2008 _Real Estate Blog_ [
> http://activerain.com/blogsview/557051/The-Mortgage-Transparency-Train]: I
> am reminded of an old wild west philosophy: there's no law west of the
> Missouri and no God west of Texas.
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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