The distance from Colmar to Graffigny-Chemin, France, where my French grandmother was born and raised, is not far, perhaps 120 miles as the crow flies. But, crows fly straight while the road from Colmar to Graffigny goes north then west. Even when going west through the Vosges Mountains, the road twists and turns - the result is a longer than expected trip.
This is an area that raises mostly hay and cattle.The villages are sparse as is the population - a result not only of the limited agriculture, but also of the two world wars that used this area as a battleground. In the town of Epinal, along the way is an American war cemetery. In the smaller village of Graffigny is a cemetary that contains the remains of British pilots shot down near the town in the Second World War. During the First World War, Graffigny had a small hospital that treated wounded American soldiers, one of them my grandfather, James Madison Pearson.