U.S. Marshal for A.T. Bob Paul


Shotgun Steve:

WellsFargo special officer and messenger, county sheriff in California and A.T., and U.S. Marshal for A.T. Bob Paul was a close political ally of the Earps in the early turbulent days of Tombstone, but later in 1882 was ordered to Colorado following the Vendetta rides to bring Wyatt and Doc Holliday back to A.T. for justice. For well chronicled reasons, Bob returned empty handed. Bob Paul was born in Massachusetts in 1830 and at age 12 went to sea from New Bedford on a whaling ship with his older brother John. Several cruises later, in 1848, Bob cashed out in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) and arrived in San Francisco in February 1849, during the height of the gold rush fever. Unsuccessful as a miner, Bob's lawman career began in 1854 as constable of Campo Seco in Calaveras County, CA. He served as deputy and finally County Sheriff until 1863, during which time he was involved in several well known events including the breakup of the notorious Tom Bell gang. In 1862, he married a 17-year old Irish lass, Margaret Coughlan, in Mokelumne Hill, CA--a union that would produce 10 children, although only six lived to maturity. Bob again tried mining, but then went to work as a stagecoach messenger for WellsFargo in the 1870's operating out of San Andreas and later Visalia, CA. In 1878, WellsFargo superintendent J.J. Valentine ordered Bob to Arizona to handle the Maricopa stage robberies problem. Bob was joined in 1879 by Al Sieber and John Behan in a chase for the robber and murderer during the stage holdup near Gillette---several months later, Bob arrested the culprit, who was later hanged in Phoenix. Bob ran for Pima County sheriff in 1880 against Democrat incumbent, Charlie Shibell. Wyatt Earp, then a deputy for Shibell, quit his position to throw support for his WellsFargo friend, Bob Paul, and was immediately replaced by John Behan. The initial election returns favored Shibell, but this decision was appealed due to massive voter fraud, and the Territorial Supreme Court in April 1881 awarded the election to Bob Paul. While the election decision was being wrangled in the courts, Bob returned to his WellsFargo employment and was the messenger on the March 15, 1881, Benson stage that was attempted to be robbed with the resulting deaths of Bud Philpot and passenger Peter Roerig. Bob wounded one of the assailants with his shotgun blasts and took control of the stage, delivering the passengers and gold specie to Benson without further loss. Bob then returned to the attempted robbery site near Drews Station and joined in with the posse(s) on their 18-day chase. Following the killing of Frank Stillwell in Tucson in March, 1882, warrants were issued for Wyatt, Doc, and others, and Bob Paul, as Pima County sheriff ordered their arrest, but then refused to join in Behan's posse pursuit. He did follow the direction of the Pima County Supervisors to carry the requisition papers to Colorado for Wyatt and Doc, and arrested Doc in Denver for transport back to A.T., but legal wrangling precluded further effort and he returned empty handed. Bob served as Pima County sheriff until 1886 and later lawman adventures as SPRR detective in 1888-90 included the tracking down of the Stein's Pass railroad robbers in Sonora in 1888. He was later appointed U.S. Marshal for A.T. by President Benjamin Harrison, serving 1890-93. Bob remained active in Republican politics and was Pima County under-sheriff as late as 1900. Bob Paul died in March, 1901, in Tucson and was buried in the Court Street Cemetery. Bob's wife, Margaret, moved to San Francisco, died in 1915, and was buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Colma, CA, with many other family members.

I just read about this fellows attempted arrest of Doc Holliday, and his attempted arrest of Wyatt Earp in Casey Teterfilers book "Wyatt Earp, the libe behind the legend."



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