Over the last several years, I have reconnected with many of my Montoya uncles, aunts and many cousins. Most of them I barely know – some of them I have never met – most live in Utah and California. One of my younger cousins (everyone is younger than me these days), Syndi, set up a family group page for us on Facebook. There we have shared our lives with each other – told family stories – and exchanged family pictures. We are all the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Jose Celestino Montoya – and we share his common ancestry. In this family line there is a real interest in learning about our family heritage – I wish it were so easy with every family line! I am planning a trip to Utah next year where we are hoping to organize a family reunion. Really looking forward to that.
This brings me to the point of this short little entry – you just never know when a brick wall will fall, when you find a new document or story, or when a new and spectacular photograph of your ancestors will surface. While cleaning and sorting through some things at her mother’s house, my cousin, Melissa, found this old photograph tucked away in the pocket of an old jacket. Thinking perhaps that the younger man was our grandfather, Joe C. Montoya, she posted it on the family page on Facebook for identification. I immediately recognized the woman as being Juana Martinez Montoya, my great-grandmother. Sure enough – according to the writing on the back of the photo the people in the photo are: Juana Martinez Montoya and Maximiano de Herrera Montoya (my great-grandparents) and their youngest son, Raymundo Montoya. Raymundo died in 1939 at the age of 20 years – which dates the photo prior to 1939 (probably taken in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico).
I love this photo so much because it is only the second photograph that I have seen of my great-grandparents. As my father aged, he looked just like Max does in this photo. (I inherited those great big giant ears too.) When I look at the face of my son – I see these men in him. After receiving the photograph – I walked around with a giddy grin on my face for days.
A huge thank you to my family – and especially Melissa – for your willingness to share what you know and what you have. Together we are weaving our family story.