Waupaca County Courthouse
Location within the U.S. state of Wisconsin
Wisconsin's location within the U.S.
|Named for||Chief Waupaca|
|Largest city||New London|
|• Total||765 sq mi (1,980 km2)|
|• Land||748 sq mi (1,940 km2)|
|• Water||17 sq mi (40 km2) 2.3%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||69/sq mi (26/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
Waupaca County is a county in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of the 2010 census, the population was 52,410. The county seat is Waupaca. The county was created in 1851 and organized in 1853. It is named after the Waupaca River, a Menominee language name meaning 'white sand bottom', 'pale water', or 'tomorrow river'.
Ancient indigenous peoples constructed earthworks that expressed their religious and political concepts. An early European explorer counted 72 such earthen mounds in what is now Waupaca County, many of them in the form of effigy mounds, shaped like "humans, turtles, catfish and others." There were 52 mounds constructed around what is now called Taylor Lake. Most mounds were lost to agricultural development. One mound, shaped like a catfish, is still visible in a private yard along County Hwy. QQ, just east of Taylor Lake. The site was marked by a local women's club with a commemorative plaque installed on a large stone.
Under pressure from European-American development, the Menominee people ceded their title to the United States for these lands by treaty in 1852. Following that, the flow of new migrant settlers greatly increased from the East, with people moving from New England, New York, and Ohio. They developed the land primarily for agricultural use in the early decades, also quickly establishing sawmills on the rivers.
In the 1870s railroads were constructed in the county: the Wisconsin Central in 1872 and the Green Bay and Minnesota Railroad (later known as Green Bay, Minnesota & St. Paul) in 1873. These improved the county's connections to markets for its lumber and other products. For a period, entrepreneurs and merchants gained high profits from the lumber industry, establishing many fine homes in the larger cities.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 765 square miles (1,980 km2), of which 748 square miles (1,940 km2) is land and 17 square miles (44 km2) (2.3%) is water. The water includes 43-acre Taylor Lake, one of a chain of lakes in the county. It has bluegill, brook trout, largemouth bass, muskellunge (muskie), Northern Pike, Tiger Muskellunge (Tiger Muskie) and Walleye fish.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 51,731 people, 19,863 households, and 13,884 families residing in the county. The population density was 69 per square mile (27/km2). There were 22,508 housing units at an average density of 30 per square mile (12/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.93% White, 0.17% Black or African American, 0.42% Native American, 0.27% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.54% from other races, and 0.66% from two or more races. 1.38% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 53.1% were of German, 8.5% Norwegian and 6.8% Irish ancestry. 96.6% spoke English, 1.4% Spanish and 1.3% German as their first language.
There were 19,863 households, out of which 32.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.40% were married couples living together, 7.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.10% were non-families. 25.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.01.
By age, 25.70% of the population was under 18, 7.10% from 18 to 24, 27.80% from 25 to 44, 22.70% from 45 to 64, and 16.70% who were 65 or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 100.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.40 males.
In 2017, there were 505 births, giving a general fertility rate of 63.4 births per 1000 women aged 15–44, the 37th highest rate out of all 72 Wisconsin counties. Of these, 26 of the births occurred at home.
Waupaca County has long been one of the most Republican counties in Wisconsin. Only two Democrats have carried the county at a presidential level since the formation of the Republican Party – Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 and 1936, and Barack Obama in 2008, and in 1936 Roosevelt only won by plurality because of a sizeable vote for Union Party nominee William Lemke. It was one of only three Wisconsin counties, alongside Walworth and Waushara, to vote for Barry Goldwater over Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Like almost all of rural white America, after voting for Obama Waupaca County has swung hard towards the Republican Party in subsequent presidential elections, giving Donald Trump a two-to-one majority in 2016.
In other statewide races, the county is equally Republican. The only Democratic gubernatorial candidate it has backed since at least 1908 is Albert Schmedeman in 1932. Senators Herb Kohl in 2006 and William Proxmire in 1976 and 1970 did carry Waupaca County when they swept every county in the state, but no other Democratic senatorial candidate has won the county since the Seventeenth Amendment.