On March 15, 1881 the Benson-Tombstone stage was held up. Although not intended as such, it ended up being one of the causes for the O. K. Corral shootout. On the other hand, the two objectives of the hold-up were not accomplished.
The main objective was the assassination of Wells Fargo shotgun guard, Bob Paul. As a Wells Fargo guard, Bob Paul had hampered the activities of the cowboys. And, the word around town was that he was to become the Pima County Sheriff. So the cowboys wanted to get rid of him. The assassination failed because when the stage departed Tombstone, stage driver Budd Philpot had gotten stomach pains and Budd exchanged positions with Paul. Orders were to kill the guard…which they did, but it was Philpot instead of Paul.
Paul was also responsible for the robbers not accomplishing their second objective…the theft of $26,000 in silver. When Philpot was shot, Bob grabbed his shotgun and fired off both barrels. One robber was killed and the noise of the shotgun spooked the horses. As the stagecoach was careening out of control, Paul climbed down; secured the reigns of the runaway steeds; and brought the stage safely into Benson.
Later, when he did became the Pima County Sheriff this 6’ 6”, 240-pound mountain of a man, typically using a shotgun, brought in bad guys, stopped lynchings, and hanged many a man legally. It always seemed that he was able to dodge that fatal bullet…That is until 1893 when he couldn’t dodge the one called cancer, and he died on March 26, 1901.