The Switch?

switchedbensonstage-blogOn a cold night in March of 1881 outlaws tried to rob the Tombstone to Benson stage. When one of the highwaymen yelled out “Halt!” the shotgun messenger Bob Paul barked “I hold for no one!” and in the same breath unlimbered his shotgun and fired.

The outlaws opened fire as well and the driver Bud Philpott was hit, fatally, and fell forward onto the wheel horses, who panicked and set off at a dead run. A rumor became extant that Philpott and Paul had trade places before the robbery. Where did that come from? I asked researcher and author, John Boessenecker (author of Bob Paul, when the law was in the holster) and he had this to say:

“Numerous writers have claimed that Bud Philpott had taken ill and that he had switched places with Paul, who actually drove the stage; and further, that the bandits intended to kill Paul but shot Philpott by mistake. This yarn had its origins in an account in the Tucson Weekly Star, August 25, 1881, in which it was claimed that Jim Crane told a friend that Paul and Philpott had switched places. This scenario is not borne out by contemporary newspaper accounts and is most improbable.”

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