Mayor’s roots go back 150 years
Smith family receives Pioneer Certificate
The Waupaca Area Genealogical Society (WAGS) recently presented Mayor Brian Smith with a Pioneer Certificate.
October is Family History Month and the Pioneer Certificate recognizes families whose ancestors came to Waupaca County before Jan. 1, 1870.
“Brian Smith was chosen because many know of the picture he has of his family and his interest in his heritage,” according to Nancy Helbach, vice president of WAGS. “Two of Brian’s third great-grandparents were Johan Frederik Georgsen and Gjertrud Hansdatter.”
Smith’s great-great-great-grandparents were married in Sonder Alslev, Maribo, Denmark on May 6, 1842. Their names were Americanized as John Georgsen and Gertrude Hansen.
According to the Waupaca County Naturalization Index, they arrived in America through the Port of Detroit in June 1863. Land records at the courthouse indicate they were living in Waupaca County by March 1864.
“Information from the U.S. Federal Census over the years tells us that John was a farmer, laborer and landlord and that his wife had 11 children of which 10 were alive in 1900. They were married for more than 60 years and both are buried at Lakeside (Memorial Park) Cemetery in Waupaca,” Helbach said.
“I remember my grandmother, Francis Smith, being involved in the Danish Morten’s Goose,” Smith said.
The Morten’s Goose is a special dinner that was traditionally held in Denmark on Nov. 10, the day before St. Martin’s Day.
The goose was a symbol of St. Martin of Tours who, according to legend, tried to avoid being ordained bishop by hiding in a goose pen.
“It used to be held at the Dane’s Home before it moved to the country club,” Smith said, regarding the feast.
Smith, who at 14 years in office is one of Waupaca’s longest serving mayors, remembers that his grandparents lived on a farm until they sold it and purchased a tavern.
Today, Smith owns Paca Pub in downtown Waupaca, where photos of his family and 10 siblings are displayed on a wall.
WAGS organizes workshops, projects, presentations and essay contests to remind the community how important it is to preserve one’s family history.
In 2009 WAGS developed a pioneer certificate program to honor both the pioneer ancestors of Waupaca County and their descendants.
Pioneer certificates are offered to those who can submit evidence that their ancestors were present in Waupaca County before Jan. 1, 1870. Descendants applying for a Pioneer Certificate do not have to live in Waupaca County and information on applying for one can be found on the WAGS website.
WAGS will host a guest speaker at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Holly Center, 321 S. Main St. in Waupaca.
Paula Vaughan will give a presentation on how to incorporate genealogy into everyday life. Members are encouraged to bring their own examples.
For more information, call 715-258-5627 or email WaupacaAreaGenSoc@hotmail.com.