Steamboat Engineer Meets Tragedy on Mississippi Sunset Hills Historical Society

Steamboat on the St Louis riverfront. Detail from Compton and Dry 1875 pictorial map of St Louis.

Steamboat on the St Louis riverfront. Detail from Compton and Dry 1875 pictorial map of St Louis.

Sunset Hills Historical Society Hosts Jan Wenk, Genealogist & Descendant of a Steamboat Engineer

The public is invited to the monthly meeting of the Sunset Hills Historical Society on Monday, September 28 at 7 PM at the Sunset Hills City Hall. The speaker will be Jan Wenk.

Jan Wenk is a genealogist and family history enthusiast. While researching her Spargo family history, she stumbled upon an historic event on the St. Louis riverfront in 1858 that drew national attention.

At the peak of the steamboat traffic era on the Mississippi River, two steamboats were challenged to a race. The result was a horrible disaster which prompted a federal investigation and criminal charges. In 2011, the story was submitted in the Missouri State Archives contest and won, in the Family History category.

Wenk is the President of the Monroe County, Illinois Genealogical Society, and a member of several other genealogical and historical organizations. She lives in Crestwood.

On Monday, September 28, Wenk will present her discoveries through her investigative research into her genealogy, St. Louis history, steamboats and what led her to this event that happened in St. Louis.

The Sunset Hills Historical Society meetings typically take place on the fourth Monday of the month in the Sunset Hills City Hall, at 3939 South Lindbergh Blvd., in Sunset Hills.

A note from the SCHS web manager:
Jan’s presentation covers the exciting story of the major steamboat disaster. The other side of the presentation is just as much about Jan’s discovery of the story, and then her pursuit of it to get the full picture. If you are a researcher yourself, the story of Jan’s tenacious search will be just as exciting as the story of the steamboat disaster itself. If you are not presently much of a researcher, enjoy the steamboat story, but be prepared to get inspired to look a little deeper into your family’s history. You may find family history “gold” in your family tree. Jan gave this presentation for the SCHS at Friendship Village program in August of 2014.