Family history moments: 'Come right away'

Several years ago, while conducting family history research, Scott and Laurel Timmins McCagno found themselves in Bene Vagienna, a little town in northern Italy. They had traced Brother McCagno's family line to the town and were hoping to find information on his father's family — which they knew very little about. All they had was the name and last-known address of his great uncle, Stefano, who had left the United States years earlier and returned to Italy with his young daughter.

The McCagno's — members of the Jordan River 16th Ward, South Jordan Utah River Stake — were behind schedule and frustrated because they had only one day to conduct family history research in the little town.

"We went straight to the municipal building, but were nothing short of horrified to find it shut up and locked," recalled Sister McCagno. "The government offices were closed up for the day for elections, and they would not admit us."

Frustrated, they turned next door to a local church. "We were told that the priest was busy with some youth for several hours and was unavailable."

As a last resort, the McCagnos decided to find the last-known residence of their great uncle Stefano. They asked an elderly man riding by on a bicycle to help them locate the address. To their surprise, he knew Stafano, who had died a few years earlier.

"The gentleman told us several stories about the family and then directed us to the local cemetery where we found the family crypt, names, and birth and death dates," Sister McCagno recalled. "While we stood marveling, crying and taking pictures, the gentleman peddled up to us and told us to come right away."

He had found information that would help them contact their great uncle's daughter.

Early the next morning, Brother and Sister McCagno met their Italian cousin. They spent time together, eating a wonderful meal and listening to translated stories of their family. She also gave the couple stacks of photos and many more names and dates.

"A collection of coincidences? I know it was not. . . . It was a string of purposeful events leading to a final and joyful conclusion," said Sister McCagno. "After much follow-up work, we submitted 166 names and three marriages for temple work." — Sarah Jane Weaver

Illustration by John Clark.

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