Playing Nancy Drew is so much fun. The Stilson collection of photographs offers hundreds of mysteries: Who was this person? What are they doing in this picture? Where is this place? We created Richmond In Sight hoping to solve some of the Stilson photo intrigues and puzzles. Well, last Friday we got to do something really cool…
The facts, ma’am…just the facts…(oops, sorry, that’s Dragnet!)
About a year ago I found this narrative written on an envelope of negatives:
“Bo” Eubank’s miniature electric car, to represent the first one run in Richmond, Va. in 1888 on which he collected the first nickel fare. He shows a cow, horse and two goats, as those killed by the first car. It killed the cow and ran up on the body and it was two hours before they could get a wagon to bring jacks and raise the car so as to get it out. The horse was killed by stepping on rail charged by live wire fallen on it. 301A S. Meadow”

BoEubank

In case you’re wondering, I have no idea what caused the demise of the two goats. The picture above is that toy streetcar, dead cow stuck under it, goats and horse ahead on the rails. So Harry knew Bo Eubank, who “took the first nickel fare” on the first electric streetcar run in Richmond, well, actually, in the world. Now, that is neat. I figured “Bo” Eubank might have relatives living in Richmond if I could just find them. Sleuthing involves census record research and other online investigation so that’s where I started.
A few weeks ago, I dialed a phone number and said “My name is Kitty Snow and I’m not a crazy person. (OK, so I lied.) Please don’t hang up on me. I’m looking for the Eubank family whose grandfather or great-grandfather worked on the streetcar line in Richmond.”
A nice and clearly-tolerant-of-crazy-people lady responded “Well, that would be my husband’s grandfather. He collected the first nickel fare on the first streetcar in Richmond.” Mystery solved!
Walter Eubank, Jr. never knew his grandfather but he was aware of his role in Richmond’s trolley history. When we met, I shared photos of the miniature streetcar and Walter’s grandparents’ apartment on Meadow Street. He recalled that as a child, he “went to town” to a museum where he saw a toy streetcar and a picture of his grandfather, Walter Eubank. A clue! Nancy Drew immediately deduced that the Richmond Valentine History Center (the Valentine Museum to us old Richmonders) deserved investigation.
I called the Valentine and determined that they did have a toy streetcar but no picture. However, the curator would call me back. Meg Hughes returned my call and assured me that it must be the right miniature streetcar because it was donated by Walter Eubank. She also found his picture in their archives. She said “I’m pretty sure it’s the same toy car because it looks just like the one in your book.” Second mystery was solved!
Meg graciously met our little group which included Walter and Sue Eubank, my aunt Margaret, Randy and me. Mr. Eubank, 81, saw the miniature streetcar he had seen in a museum as a boy about seventy years ago. The Stilson photograph was taken March 28, 1923 and 89 years later, almost to the day, Walter Eubank’s grandson stood before a glass case admiring his grandfather’s workmanship and detail. As a child, he didn’t realize that the miniature car on display was built by his grandfather but he knows now. Courtesy of the Valentine, he also has a copy of his grandfather’s picture.
I‘m glad they have my books for sale. People can see the little trolley and compare it to the picture in “From a Richmond Streetcar.” Cool, huh?
Of course Randy took pictures and video so you can share our adventures with us. This is what Richmond In Sight is all about: connecting Richmonders today with their relatives and/or family history from nearly a century ago, sharing scenes and stories of our home town with generations who will define the Richmond of tomorrow.

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And a really fun trip to the Valentine Museum isn’t a bad way to spend a day in the life of a self-described Nancy Drew. This mystery is solved but we have hundreds more to crack. Go to http://www.richmondinsight.com and become a partner in our sleuthing. We have pictures, names and more and we need all the detectives we can get, girl or otherwise.

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