Ebert and Donnellan: Early Streetcar Motormen


On August 8, 1887, Mansfield rode into the future on one of the first electric streetcar railways in the country.  This photograph shows one of the first motormen, George Ebert.  In a newspaper article from 1932, they identify the other man as Edward Donnellan and the residence in the background belonging to John Nunmaker on Springmill Street near Mulberry.  Looking at city directories and Sanborn maps, it appears Nunmaker lived in the house partially obscured by the streetcar and the home in view was occupied by David Stambaugh, a carpenter.  The house is still standing today.


1902 sanborn

1902 Sanborn Map showing location where photograph was taken


Springmill St. today taken from Google Maps

George Ebert would have been only seventeen years old when the streetcars started running.  According to information on FindAGrave.com, he was born on December 16, 1869 here in Mansfield.  In an article from the Shield & Banner from 1887, it states the streetcars started operation on August 8, 1887, an exciting job for a young man in a fast growing city.  George was still a streetcar conductor in 1894, according to the city directory.  On May 1, 1899, George became a city fireman and was severely injured in a fire set by an arsonist in January of 1900.  George continued to be a fireman and, in 1913, was appointed captain of the No. 4 fire station.  There was scandal in the fire department in 1913.  The previous captain, Charles H. Eyerly, was brought up on multiple charges, including threatening the firemen under his charge, taking vegetables and wood bought with city finances for his own use and kicking the horses on the shin to make them back under their harness.  Ebert was one of the men threatened; a witness testified Eyerly said he would get him out of the station within two weeks.  In March of 1913, Ebert was made a Lieutenant and William Ryder was appointed Captain of station No. 4.  A month later, Ryder resigned a day before he was supposed assume his duties and Ebert was made Captain.  Ebert’s captaincy was short. In November of 1915, he was also brought up on charges, including being intoxicated while on duty, gossiping about employees, incompetency and conduct unbecoming of an officer or a gentleman.  On November 23, 1915, Ebert was dismissed from the fire department, a decision he appealed, but dropped the case and officially resigned on December 15, 1915.  Ebert worked as a clerk for various businesses until his death on July 30, 1932.

Edward Donnellan was an Irish immigrant who came to Mansfield in 1886, according to the 1900 census.  His wife, Mary, arrived a year later and by 1900 they had six children and were living on Cline Ave.  In November of 1909, Edward was injured while working for the Mansfield Railway Light & Power Co. when he fell from the top of a car at the brans where the kept the streetcars  and broke his collar bone.  The following month, Edward got pneumonia and died on December 14, 1909.  He left behind his wife, Mary, and eight children, 5 sons and 3 daughters.

The street cars ran for almost fifty years in the city.  The Mansfield News Journal reported on June 7, 1937 that “the old car rattled around the loop from Park Avenue West to Fourth Street shortly before midnight last night, coming to rest in the East Fourth Street car barns.  “Old 51” had made its last run and the streetcar era had ended in Mansfield.”