Donald Robertson “Cannonball” Green

Donald Robertson “Cannonball” Green

Kentucky, USA
Death 1922 (aged 82–83)
California, USA
Burial Wichita, Sedgwick County, Kansas, USA
Plot Block H, lot 11
Memorial ID 16347267 · View Source
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Donald R. "Cannonball" Green owned the Cannonball Stage Line that carried mail, passengers and freight on routes now part of U.S. Highway 54 from Wichita, Kansas to Meade, Kansas. Parts of Highway 54 were known for many years as the Cannonball Highway. One of the contracts of this stage line was to carry mail and the Wichita Eagle newspaper from Wichita to various towns to the west. Marshall M. Murdock, founder of the Wichita Eagle was the source for the agreement and was a close personal friend of Cannonball Green.

This stage line was famous for its breakneck speed across the prairie. This was accomplished by supplying fresh horses at relay stations located about every 20 miles along the route. In only two minutes the horses were switched and the stagecoach pulled by teams of 6 or 8 horses took off "like a shot out of a cannon." The coaches were painted yellow and green.

The town of Greensburg in Kiowa County, Kansas was named after Cannonball Green as he was one of its founders. At one point, Green's business operated 70 coaches and over 1,000 head of horses.

Donald R. Green died in California in 1922 at the age of 83 and was buried next to his wife Margaret (1851-1912) and 2 of their daughters Lucille (Green) Bloom and Francis (Green) Bollenback.

The following is from the Wichita Eagle newspaper dated May 12, 2008;

"Stagecoach operator founded Greensburg-
It was 1885 and Col. Donald Robertson Green was wheeling and dealing with some of the fastest transportation of the West.
Horses and stagecoaches were his specialty.
Small towns were springing up every eight miles. Railroads had yet to follow in some of these communities.
And the man who people would nickname "Cannonball" Green was buying herds of wild horses. He preferred bays, dark sorrels and strawberry roans so they could be driven as matching teams for his stagecoaches.
Green's stagecoach route, which soon became known as the Cannonball Highway, started on what is now Wichita's West Street and ran west along Maple for 11 miles, turned south for 1 mile, then hooked up with what is now U.S. 54 west to Kingman. His teams and coaches could make the run in about 10 hours, with relay stops every 20 miles.
His stage line helped build western Kansas by becoming the fastest stagecoach line in Kansas.
In 1885, there were towns vying for Green's attention and offering him land if he helped their communities grow.
Pratt gave Green a lot on Main Street and then built and donated a stage barn to him.
Wellsford gave Green 20 acres; Coldwater eight lots.
The community of Coronado, now a ghost town, gave him not only eight lots but $500. Garden City offered six lots and $1,000.
In 1885, he organized a town company in Kiowa County near the town of Jaynesville.
As he built the community that would be named "Greensburg," he promised free lots to any property owner of Jaynesville who'd move to Greensburg.
Green also helped organize Kiowa County with Greensburg as the county seat.
In 1889, he was elected to the state Legislature.
By 1893, a drought and economic bust caused Green to leave Greensburg. He participated in the Cherokee Strip land run, homesteaded a claim and, in 1894, became chairman of the first Oklahoma statehood convention.
Cannonball Green died in 1922 in Long Beach, Calif. He is buried in Wichita's Maple Grove Cemetery.
In 1997, the state renamed a 60-mile stretch of U.S. 54 from Kingman to Greensburg the Cannonball Stage Line Highway, honoring Cannonball Green."

An article in the Wichita Eagle Neighbors section dated August 19, 2015 mentioned many of the same items listed above but added a few more.
"Cannonball Road - Before the West (and west Kellogg) was paved, Donald 'Cannonball' Green blazed the trail.
He was a runaway who sneaked off in the night as a 10-year-old with an older brother and lit out for adventure in the untamed West. His stagecoach line ran from Wichita to Kingman, and could make the run in about 10 hours, which is not faster than a locomotive (the line's name was inspired by "The Wabash Cannonball," a folk tune about a fictional train), but for a stagecoach and team it amounted to break-neck speed. 'Get up and take the Cannonball, then you can tell them East that you had a fast ride,' one of Green's early advertising bills read in part. 'Should passengers get left, do not blame the drivers, they have imperative orders to leave on time and make time.' Each coach was hauled by a double team and it was said that Cannonball Green could hit a fly at twenty feet with the long lash of his blacksnake whip. He ran the mail and carried the Wichita Eagle newspaper and hauled an unknown number of passengers out west including Carry Nation for a short jaunt. He kicked her off when she took a lit cigar out of his mouth.
Green was, by all accounts, a swaggering sort who cut a dashing figure in his gray suit and diamond-studded chain, which he liked to twirl in a crowd. He kept an ice chest in his personal coach, the better to impress parched dignitaries 'with a choice selection of liquid refreshments.'
He could be a charmer, but he also took no guff.
'A rifle swung across his lap and a Bisby model Colt revolver swung from a holster at the side of his seat, mute evidence of what bandits might expect,' the Beacon noted. Green 'boasted of the fact he had never been held up, nor have his passengers ever lost a penny through robbery while under his care.'
He made a small fortune between 1870 and 1880, but also spent it. When the railroad eventually expanded, it was a severe blow to his business. For a time, he tried his hand as a lawmaker in Topeka. But he was a restless soul and eventually set out, once again, to start a new life in more uncivilized parts - Oklahoma Territory.
That was where a reporter caught up with him for a 1909 interview. "I came to Caddo County because I was a westerner. It seems more like the west down here than any other places that I know of.' Green passed his hand through the hair on the left side of his head and revealed a scar left there by an Indian arrow, which had plowed through the scalp and segregated the left ear.
'I am not good for more than ten or fifteen years longer, at most, and there will be no west then.'
Green next settled in California. At a rodeo in Sacramento, the account goes, 'He was dressed as an old stager, had bronco teams, and was covered with red mountain dust. After all the drivers had exhibited their best stunts with their teams, Green cut a figure eight with a six-horse team around the judges, in such a manner as to make the old timers hold their breath.'"

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  • Created by: Larry E. Barnes
  • Added: 27 Oct 2006
  • Find a Grave Memorial 16347267
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Donald Robertson “Cannonball” Green (1839–1922), Find a Grave Memorial no. 16347267, citing Maple Grove Cemetery, Wichita, Sedgwick County, Kansas, USA ; Maintained by Larry E. Barnes (contributor 5663157) .