Family history moments: 'Somewhere in forever'

If the Lord's work didn't come about by such ordinary means, my long-awaited news would have been announced with a drum roll instead of the telephone ringing.

The caller identified herself before saying: "You placed a query in the New Mexico Genealogist 10 years ago. Are you still interested in leads on the Coca-Montoya line?"I assured her that I was, and my heart leaped at the news she recently happened across some information that might be pertinent. I had reached an impasse in tracing my maternal lineage. Little was told me of my great-grandmother, Ruperta, except that she was orphaned; whether she was a Montoya by birth or adoption was uncertain. The only record of my great-grandfather, Antonio Coca, was an entry listing his death and burial.

I learned the caller was also a Coca-Montoya descendant, facing the same obstacles I had. Although we didn't identify a common ancestor, we felt certain we were cousin and kin.

During our conversation I found reason to rejoice. The records of no help to her were of the family I sought. When the wealth of material arrived I was heartened to see the baptism certificate of Ruperta Montoya. Knowing my great-grandmother was listed on census records with her natural family, I could safely proceed with extensive temple work.

I also learned my great-grandfather had served in the Civil War. I felt my heart turning to him as I read his war records. He was described as 5 feet 5 inches tall with hazel eyes. He was the company bugler. Visits to the infirmary were entered.

Also included was a letter respectfully submitted by a parish priest, verifying the soldier's age as 21. It revealed my great-grandfather was orphaned, not his wife as I thought. Tears then filled my eyes as I saw a familiar date. Antonio Coca was born June 13, 1842 - 101 years to the day before I would come to earth.

Often family historians persevere out of love - not knowing if the work is being accepted. My prior Coca-Montoya research was filled with too many uncanny events to be dismissed as coincidence. But the personal connection with my great-grandfather served to inspire me to live worthy of becoming better acquainted with him somewhere in forever.

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