Soon after he arrived arriving in Tucson in October 1878, J.D. Kinnear started Kinnear’s Express stagecoach service (every four days) to the new boomtown of Tombstone. By the next year Kinnear had formed the Tucson & Tombstone Stage Line, later known as the Arizona Stage and Mail Line, to provide service to Tombstone and soon thereafter on to Bisbee.
The stagecoach line headed south, following the San Pedro River from Benson a few miles then headed south
The line might have gone unremembered had not four bandits attacked one of his treasure-bearing coaches on March 15, 1881, killing driver Eli “Bud” Philpott (or Philpot) and passenger Peter Roerig. As the stage traveled between Contention and Drew’s Station. The botched robbery is significant because the posse that went after the bandits, included Virgil and Wyatt Earp, and Pima County Sheriff Bob Paul. The outlaws were members of a Cochise County gang known as Cow-Boys, Ed Crane, Bill Leonard, Harry Head and Luther King. The latter is captured, confesses and implicates Harry Head, Jim Crane and Bill Leonard. King taken to Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan’s jail where a fresh horse is waiting and leaves jail door open. King heads for Mexico. This is what set off the famous gunfight the following October in Tombstone.