Anna Lee Jordan has been riding RAGBRAI for six years, but discovered a personal story that she never knew.
Jordan was just starting to date John, who is now her husband. His family has been doing RAGBRAI since 1990, and he wanted Jordan to come with him on the ride across the Hawkeye State.
“Since the first day I was hooked,” said Jordan.
She’s since done five, the 2017 ride being her number six.
Besides cycling, Jordan–who is from Georgia–found an interest in geneology. She started tracing back her mother’s ancestery. She found roots in Georgia and New Orleans and Germany. There was a blank spot.
“I started filling in the blanks of what I knew and what I did not know and that’s when I came to the stumbling block of my great grandmother’s grandmother,” said Jordan. “It’s like she disappeared.”
Her great, great, great grandmother. Traces of her stopped with records in Germany. Jordan knew she had relatives in New Orleans, but could not figure out where her ancestor had ended up in the United States.
It took a while, but she found it.
“There was my great, great grandmother and her parents,” said Jordan. “And I was able to find her grave that of and that of her great grandparents and other relatives at the Riverside Cemetery in Charles City.”
She figured all of this out just a few weeks before she was scheduled to come up to Iowa for RAGBRAI. It really hit her when she realized that Charles City, IA was the overnight town on day four of the trip.
This allowed Jordan to make a stop at Riverside Cemetery. She brought flowers and visited the graves of her ancestors that brought her family to this country.
She said she always felt like she had a connection to Iowa, but had no idea how deep it went.
“I do have deep southern roots. Never did I know, though, that every time I rode past a cemetery in that I would have relatives, much less my fourth great grandmother was buried there,:” said Jordan. “So, this is my sixth year of coming to Iowa and now I actually have roots. Maybe that’s why it resonates with me, why I love Iowa.”
She also thinks this is kind of what RAGBRAI is all about.
“It’s about making connections, RAGBRAI,” said Jordan. “Whoever you’re sitting next to eating a pork chop, we start the conversation and you make friends. The connections are there if you want to look for them.”