Every year, a journey through Iowa, each time different.


Every year Iowa hosts a cycling event called RAGBRAI, which crisscrosses the state. The route changes every year. This year it’s passing through a few towns and counties with personal significance to me.

Shenandoah is one such place. It’s a town in southwestern Iowa where my great-great grandfather lived. It’s where my great grandparents, George Hay and Geneva Darling, married in 1913.

My great-great uncle lived and worked there, as a reporter for the local paper, before shipping out for Camp Dodge, New York, and then Europe to fight in the First World War. Sadly, he was mowed down by German machine gun fire in July of 1918 while on the Western Front in France, where his remains have been ever since.

A few hundred miles later, to the east of Shenandoah — two hundred and twenty-five to be precise — the route passes through Washington County and the county seat also named Washington. This is where the Darling clan lived for many years, starting in 1853 or so, when Ezra Darling came from New York looking for farmland and opportunity.

Maybe one of these days I will do at least part of the route. I will definitely need to train a bit. Perhaps an electric bike would help. Would that be acceptable? I know nothing about the rules.

That’s an idea! Doing genealogy throughout the country, maybe even the world, by BIKE! Sounds like too much work though.


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