November 29, 2020

Well over 50 people joined the Zoom launch meeting yesterday for The Families: Vol. 2 website. They came from the West Coast, from France and from all points in between.

The festivities began with a meet and greet moderated by Rob Bowe. Bill Bowe thanked everyone for their interest before describing the content and navigation details of this new family resource.

The reviews after the launch were positive:

• Really impressive!;

• Fantastic job, I’m totally blown away by this website.

• My 123 & Me relatives are going to make more sense now!

• Nellie died of “excitement” -Love it! Just that alone was worth the price of admission!

• Super great!

• What an amazing job!

• A triumph!

• Incredible work!

• What a wonderful resource! I can’t wait to explore it! Thank you for including my family in it!

• This has been truly fantastic. Thank you so much! Please include the ABQ Hanleys when you put I the mass order for the Canavan commemorative coffee mugs!

• Thank you!

• So great to call all of you! I love the mug — I think we should set up a Canavan Shop online — I’m happy to coordinate the orders!

• Super-duper terrific way of getting it all together. Thank you for the fabulous work and gift.

With the launch now in the past, a virtual holiday “cocktail party” is in the immediate future. It will have a structure aimed at facilitating easier conversational exchanges. Mark your calendar for December 12th, details to follow.

18 Rue Lowendal, Paris, France

Jean Gwinn, Myriam and Livie Riboud avec Cecilia Lacombe Kuhn

“Bill a perdu ses sens. Je pense qu’il est complètement obsédé par cet homme Canavan!”

Bill Bowe launched the site in an extended family Zoom meeting on November 28, 2020. He began with a few remarks about the launch program itself, the origins of the site, and his hopes for broad family support for the new resource:

Welcome, all. For those of you just joining us, I’m Bill Bowe. Thanks for taking time out from the pandemic and Thanksgiving Week for this unusual family get together to learn more about website that is launching today.

I’ll be talking a bit today about our common ancestors Anthony Canavan, Moses Bowe, Richard Gwinn, Sr. and Paul Riboud and their descendants. Among these four progenitors, Anthony Canavan is related to fully 35 of the 43 families highlighted on the website. He’s my great grandfather on my father’s side and kin to most of those joining us today.

I don’t know why, but I often get the feeling he’s looking over my shoulder when I talk about him. He looms large, you might say. My wife Cathy says I’m obsessed with him. That’s just crazy talk.

My co-host for this Zoom meeting is Rob Bowe. I entrusted Rob with this job because he has proven to me beyond a reasonable doubt that he is my first cousin, once removed. Using his experience as a school district’s technology manager, Rob has muted your microphones during my presentation. That’s to keep the foul-mouthed among you from scandalizing the rest of us. Rob will also manage the Chat function during this period for those of you who want to type any comments or questions.

Besides the website’s name, internet address and password, the topics I’m going to cover in my overview are the origins of the website, its content, and its navigation.

Meg Lynch Meyer will finish up with a few words on getting all those photographic prints you’ve got in a shoe box digitized and uploaded to your family’s galleries on the website. Rob will then tell us about a plan to reconvene over the holidays in a more conversation friendly, holiday party environment. When we finish, the microphones will be turned back on and, for those of you that can stick around, we’ll continue our meet and greet until 11:30 a.m. Chicago time (6:30 p.m. Paris time).

Origins of The Families: Vol. 2

We have the pandemic lockdown to thank for the website’s origins. Being retired empty nesters for several years now, my wife Cathy and I had already learned how to fill in the time we used to spend correcting the grammar of our sons, whosie-whatsit and whatchamacallit. But by the end of March this year the isolation caused by social distancing was really getting me down. Though it was calming and interesting to look at for a while, before long I became bored staring at my navel.

That’s when I came up with the idea of building a website to reimagine my mother Mary Gwinn Bowe’s 1970 book The Families. Her book had photos, family trees and lots of stories about the extended family. I thought that information could serve as a foundation for a website that would also include my own large library of indexed and digitized family photos, videos and documents. My avoidance of boredom project was set: create a website for the extended family that would hopefully be a fun and useful resource for everyone involved.

The only thing standing in my way of doing this was the fact that I knew next to nothing about building a website. As you will see, eight months later, thanks to oodles of spare time, YouTube tutorials and a lot of help from a website design consultant and others in the family, The Families: Vol. 2 is finally ready to launch today…

Goals and Next Steps

Besides hopefully creating a broad family resource, I also wanted to make sure that my own children learned that the comforts of life they grew up with were not present or routine for the families that preceded them. The website leaves no doubt that those families often faced and overcame poverty and far too regularly had to surmount the tragedies of an early death in their families.

When my own children or any of us hit a rough patch in our lives, it’s helpful to remember that the families that went before us had strong family bonds that helped them make their way forward in a sometimes very unfriendly world. In this regard I think particularly of my mother Mary Gwinn Bowe. She may have come into the world motherless, but with the strong support of her father and extended family, she was able to build herself a wonderful life filled with achievement and a loving family of her own.

While the website is now launched, it’s hardly finished. It needs a lot more content to be fully representative of the families now a part of the site. This is a good time for those of you with an interest in this to leave your own mark on the website.

Also, I’d like all of you to alert me to errors you’ll undoubtedly run across. I’m sure they’ll range from typographical errors, to dead links, to mixing up people and to genealogical mistakes. I’m eager to learn about these and fix them all.

I’m interested too in your feedback on what you think of the website and what you would like to see added to The Families: Vol. 2. Please use my website email address for all these kinds of communications.

Rob Bowe will shortly be sending you a notice of another family Zoom meeting on Saturday, December 12th. It will be structured to let the larger group break up into smaller, more conversation-friendly groups of your choice.

In the meantime, be safe.

P.S. Here was a nice follow up from helpmates Beth Dunn, John Hanley, Meg Lynch and Rob Bowe: