Spencer Man Hopes To Set World Record With Largest Family Reunion

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Spencer, IA (ABC9 News) -  It's often said you have to know where you come from to know where you're going.

"I talked to my grandmother, I talked to my great-aunts and I actually went out to the cemetery and started writing down names and trying to piece things together, said Josiah Schmidt.

Josiah Schmidt takes his roots very seriously. He began looking into his ancestry as a hobby, and now a genealogist, it's full time job. His latest project is piecing together his own family tree for a family reunion.

"When we first started talking about a family reunion we thought it would be several hundred people," said Schmidt.

He traced his lineage back to George Karl Schmidt. A German migrant from the late 1800's, and from  there things took off.

"We have about 5,000 to 10,000 cousins that we are hoping to reunite," said Schmidt.

A reunion that size would break a Guinness World Record, and that's exactly what he hopes to do at Clay County Fairgrounds in Spencer, IA on July 30-31,2016.

"The main event will happen here at the Grandstands and we'll have to gather everyone together at the same time and count everybody in the same place," said Schmidt.

Family members will have to prove their relation to one common ancestor through either marriage or a birth certificate.

The possible record-breaking family reunion isn't only attracting Schmidt family members, Josiah has decided to extend the invitation to members of the community. 

"Alongside of our Schmidt family reunion here at the fairgrounds in July 2016  we're also going to be holding our own spencer's first German festival," said Schmidt.

Spencer City Manager, Bob Feagen likes the idea. "It will allow the public to a part of it as well, and because we have some of those German descendants here I think it will be well reserved," said Feagen.

The current record holder is a family in France who gathered 4,514 people.

Schmidt says he already has about 600 RSVP's for next year's reunion, and he's hoping for at least 7,000 more.


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