His name was John James ILOTT, born in England, died in British Columbia, and buried in Alberta. I had very little information on him and not that much more on his wife, the former Jane DORSEY; but it seemed an easy enough task: locate John’s gravestone.
It started with a quick session looking into the Alberta Genealogical Society (AGS) Surname database, which verified John was indeed buried in Alberta, at Hillside Cemetery in Medicine Hat — but he was alone.
Alone? – now that was a little curious, a married man buried by himself (“Peace & Quiet at last!” as my uncle would say); and reported burials of any other ILOTT relatives were not in our database.
Many questions and theories came from that database tidbit: Where is his widow, Jane? Did she possibly predecease him? Where is his family? I was certain answers were waiting for me in “the Gas City,” so an e-mail query was sent to them requesting their assistance.
Enter, Kathy GLEISNER, the fresh face appointed as Research Co-Ordinator for Medicine Hat AGS. My query was the first one she received and she responded quickly, following up three days later with a synopsis of her findings.
I met up with Kathy, after the Medicine Hat Executive meeting. She explained what further information that she and her friend, Judy were able to locate for me. Kathy and her fellow researchers all agreed that finding John’s stone and obituary only made the puzzle more mysterious. I eyed the photographs she had taken of my relative’s stone looking for the faintest hint of an answer.
“Would you like to see him?” she said, pointing out the door. “He’s just across the street!”
“Is that a rhetorical question?” I smiled.
Hillside Cemetery is massive and surprisingly not the oldest cemetery in Medicine Hat. It is meticulously maintained and clearly marked. The only thing I would recommend is not to visit before 9a.m. on foot unless you can outrun the strategically placed water sprinklers with their sweeping and overlapping 50-foot arcs.
So, now with photos and more questions in hand, I return (home) to my notes looking for answers.