Twenty-five Bidwell cousins from seven states and Canada gathered in Council Bluffs, Iowa for the 2023 Bidwell Family Association

Reunion. The reunion was hosted by BFA Secretary, Barb Lewison. We welcomed first time reunion attendee, Clint Bidwell of Oklahoma.
Thursday was arrival day. Bidwell cousins traveled by car and air to get to the reunion. After registration Bidwell cousins visited and enjoyed dinner together.

Friday morning was our annual Board of Director’s meeting. Carol Bidwell of Minnesota was welcomed to her first board meeting as a BFA Director. Debbi Wilhelm of Oregon was voted onto the board as the newest BFA Director. Non-board members enjoyed free time and were able to get a head start on the BFA Scavenger Hunt.

After the business of the association was taken care of, our group met at the Durham Museum in downtown Omaha, Nebraska. The museum is in one of Omaha’s most unique and treasured buildings, the Omaha Union Station. On January 15, 1921, Omaha Union station opened to great fanfare and quickly became one of the busiest train stations in the nation.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the museum’s restaurant, “The Soda Fountain.” After lunch, we enjoyed a guided tour of the museum. Our guide, Monica, gave a great tour informing us about the unique architecture of the building and stories of people who might have traveled through the station of the years.

After the tour we had free time to explore the museum, including trains and interactive displays.

Friday evening was free time for attendees to get dinner, do more work on the Scavenger hunt, visit the Ameristar casino, which was attached to our hotel, or simply relax. Most attendees decided on inside activities because of the extreme heat. Friday’s temperature was 103 with a heat index of 117! It was a bit warm to say the least.

The lower humidity on Saturday morning was refreshing as we gathered in Council Bluffs, IA to tour the Historic Squirrel Cage Jail. The unique jail was built in 1885 and was in continuous use until 1969. The design and size of the jail makes it a one-of-a-kind structure. It was one of only 18 revolving jails built. It is the only three-story squirrel cage jail ever built. A few Bidwell cousins spent a little time in solitary confinement at the jail, but only to pose for photographs!

Saturday afternoon was the last chance for Scavenger hunt participants to find remaining locations on the list. Other Bidwell cousins had free time to explore additional museums in Council Bluffs, grab lunch, or head back to the hotel to relax. Saturday evening’s activities began with the BFA General Business meeting. BFA Director, George Bidwell of Ontario, Canada was honored for his 30+ years of service to the Bidwell Family Association as a BFA Director.

The 2023-24 BFA Officers were sworn in during the installation ceremony lead by BFA Director, Sandra Maslen. Reunion attendees, George & Lynda Bidwell, were first to submit their reunion payment and given a small gift from the Reunion Committee. The BFA Memorial Service was held with BFA 2 nd Vice-President, Kevin White, and Clint Bidwell, reading the names of those who had passed. Our dinner prayer was offered by BFA Director, Carol Bidwell, before we enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner.

BFA Director, George Bidwell of Canada and his grandson, Max Moggy shared the auctioneer duties for our annual auction. The combination of George and Max provided a very entertaining auction. We will never forget George modeling the “Bidwell Winery” apron or the look on Max’s face when he was outbid by his grandfather at the very last second! It was a great evening of fun and laughter enjoying a wonderful BFA tradition. One of the biggest sellers was a box containing 4 cookies from “Crumbl Cookies”, four cookies sold for $50.00! That is $12.50 per cookie!

Lynda Bidwell and BFA Secretary, Barb Lewison served as recording secretaries at the auction desk. The auction was very successful due to the generosity of the attendees and the occasional bidding wars for a much-desired item!

Sunday morning the group boarded the bus for a busy day of tours. Our first stop took us to Ashland, Nebraska to visit the Strategic Air Museum. When first entering the museum, it was impossible to miss the SR-71A “Blackbird” suspended from the ceiling. The SR-71 is a long-range, high-altitude, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft. The Blackbird can fly from NY to London in one hour and 55 minutes!

Our guide, JP gave a great tour through the two large hangars as he explained many aircraft such as the A-26B “Invader”, B-17G “Flying Fortress”, B-25-N “Mitchell” and many more. After the tour the Strategic Air Café set up a wonderful lunch for us in a private room in the museum. After lunch attendees had free time to explore. Chris & Max Moggy were brave enough to ride one of the flight simulators at the museum!

After a short bus ride, we arrived at the Holy Family Shrine located in Gretna, NE. The idea to build a shrine for travelers on Interstate 80 was conceived in 1993. Four Catholics, a priest, two architects, and another layperson were all inspired to build a chapel for travelers. The chapel was opened to the public in July of 2002. The chapel stands on bluffs that overlook Interstate 80. The chapel is made of western red cedar beams and glass walls. The southern window features an etching of the Holy Family. We enjoyed the walk to the chapel and the peace found inside the chapel.

Our last stop was in Ralston, NE at Spaghetti Works for dinner. We were given a private room and a wonderful server who worked extra hard to make our dinner experience wonderful. After the hearty meal, we boarded the bus for the ride back to the hotel. Upon arrival to the hotel a round of applause was given to our wonderful bus driver, Todd and to our reunion host, Barb Lewison for jobs well done! Everyone had a good time visiting with their cousins and exploring new areas of the country.

Attendees of the 2023 BFA Reunion – Omaha, NE & Council Bluffs, IA
(*denotes first reunion)

Janelle Hall

Cindy Bidwell
Danielle Bidwell
Linda Jakubowsky
Barb Lewison (Reunion Host)

Carol Ann Bidwell
Calvin & Sally Schultz

New York
John & Tina Bidwell
Nan Eagan
Sandy Maslen

Don & Julia Bidwell
John & Sherry Parmenter

Clint Bidwell*
Kevin White

Debbi & Jim Wilhelm

Ontario, Canada
Cathy Bidwell Moggy
Chris Moggy
Max Moggy
George & Lynda Bidwell