Bidwell cousins were greeted by BFA Reunion Host, Barb Lewison and BFA Secretary Pam West as they arrived at the Holiday Inn in Des Moines. There were 51 attendees from 12 states including 15 first-time reunion attendees.
Friday morning began with our annual BFA Board of Directors meeting. After the business of the association was taken care of, we enjoyed a delicious lunch provided by the hotel before we were off for a busy afternoon of tours.
Our first tour on Friday afternoon was a stop at Terrace Hill, which is the official residence of the Governor of Iowa. It was built by Iowa’s first millionaire, Benjamin Franklin Allen. Construction was finished in 1869 and cost $400,000. We had wonderful guided tours through the first and second floors of the mansion.
Our second stop on Friday took us to Salisbury House & Gardens. The estate was inspired by King’s House in Salisbury, England. The house was built by Carl and Edith Weeks, in the 1920’s. They were avid collectors of books, art, and furnishings. Most of their vast collection remains at Salisbury House. The extensive library with many well-known first edition books and an original painting by Sir Anthony van Dyck were some of the highlights of the tour.
Saturday morning, we were off to the Iowa Genealogy Society. Theresa Liewer gave a wonderful presentation and answered all our questions about the newest online tools available for genealogy research.
We went across the street for a delicious lunch at Café Baratta’s and enjoyed a self-guided tour of the State Historical Museum of Iowa.
The General Business meeting began activities for Saturday evening. The 2018-19 BFA Officers were sworn in during the Installation ceremony lead by BFA Director, Cindy Bidwell of Iowa. The Memorial list was read by BFA Director, Ann Cline of Arizona.
On display in our banquet room were some of the historical genealogy charts which were compiled from research done by the founders of the Bidwell Family Association, the late Joan & Virgil Bidwell of Tama, Iowa.
They serve as a reminder of how much dedication and hard work was put into the association’s history before the days of computers!
The original “Bidwell Song” sheet was also on display along with the late Virgil Bidwell’s reunion records. Thank you to the Tama Bidwell’s for preserving and sharing these wonderful items with us!
The oldest and youngest persons in attendance at the reunion were recognized. Oldest honors went to John (Jack) Bidwell of Buffalo, NY who was 94 years old. Jackson Bidwell, the son of Eric and Jill Bidwell of Marshalltown, Iowa, was the youngest in attendance at age 10. Ann Cline of Sun City West, Arizona was also recognized for being the first person to send in her registration and payment for the reunion!
A delicious dinner followed our business meeting. Our dinner prayer was offered by BFA Director, Julia Bidwell of Ohio. After dinner, BFA Director, Barb Lewison of Iowa presented “Family History makes History Fun”. She took us through her Norwegian roots with a slide show and wonderful props!
Ken Bidwell of Iowa served as our auctioneer at the BFA Auction. Eric Bidwell of Iowa, along with Jackson Bidwell of Iowa, and Jacob Parmenter of Ohio helped by spotting bids, delivering items to attendees, and sometimes even modeling items up for auction.
Our auction was very successful due to the generous donations of items to auction and the aggressive bidding by the attendees!
On Sunday morning, we left the hotel for a full day in Winterset, Iowa. Upon arrival in Winterset, we were greeted at the Chamber of Commerce with delicious apple fritters and coffee to get us ready for our two-hour “Bridges of Madison County” bus tour. Our step-on guide gave us such an informative tour about the bridges, the area of Winterset, and even a humorous story about how the town drunk ended up naming the town “Winterset”!
A delicious lunch was served at the Northside Café which has been in business for 142 years on the square in Winterset. The café was made famous by Robert James Waller who wrote the iconic novel, “The Bridges of Madison County” in the third booth from the door. Clint Eastwood visited the diner during the filming of the film by the same name.
After lunch, we were off to see the birthplace of Marion Robert Morrison, more commonly known as John Wayne who was born in Winterset on May 26, 1907. The museum sits adjacent to the home of John Wayne and contains original movie posters, film wardrobe, scripts, and even one of his last customized automobiles!
Our last stop in Winterset was the “Iowa Quilt Museum”. Located in the former JC Penney store on the square in Winterset, the quilt museum featured quilts from award winning quilter, Victoria Findlay Wolfe. Her presentation “Playing with Purpose” was a collection of quilts appreciated by all.
As reunion activities came to an end, we began packing our bags and saying our good-byes before heading home.
We had a wonderful reunion in Des Moines, Iowa!
Attendees of the 2018 BFA Reunion
Zeb Bidwell & Amy Misawa
Ed & Kathy Wilhelm
Jimmy & Ruth Blasingame
Sarah & Jeremy Meyers
Cindy & Ken Bidwell
Danielle Bidwell & Cameron Fisk
Eric, Jill & Jackson Bidwell
Linda & Bill Jakubowsky
Judy & Scott Pries
Kelsey & Marissa Pries
John Waters & Kris Wells
Tracey & Phillip Jones
Calvin & Eileen Bidwell
John (Jack) Bidwell
John & Tina Bidwell
Neil Bidwell & Mary Boak
Don & Julia Bidwell
John & Sherry Parmenter
Jim & Deborah Wilhelm