Bubbles Segall acknowledged my inquiry within 24 hours, alerting me to new sources of information including passenger lists, the National Archives of South Africa on whose site was reference to several documents about Harris, archives of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and those of the University of Cape Town (UCT). I could follow these up on my own.
She had independently found the following:
- Details of Harris’ birth, death and place of burial from the South African Jewish database held by the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and research at UCT
- An extract from Avrom’s essay about Harris’ migration to South Africa
- Details of his attendance at the South African College
The first item confirmed what I already knew of key milestones in my grandfather’s life. The second was, of course, familiar to me and has since been quoted repeatedly in the course of my dealings with others.
It was the third item that caused me to pause a while.
Bubbles had extracted this information from the Ancestry 24 site although it appears on Findmypast and other sites too. The citation reads as follows:
- Name: Harris Saltman
- Start Year: 1895
- End year: 1898
- Source: The History of the South African College Vol 2 by Prof W. Ritchie
- Collection Name: SACS Alumni
While new information is always exciting, the dates mystified me. Firstly, unless Harris had been a singularly slow learner – a prospect I was reluctant to contemplate – this would have made him 22 years old by the time he had completed his schooling. An unlikely candidate for tertiary education and even less one for a career in the law.
I knew that the South African College – from which the University of Cape Town evolved – had offered courses in tertiary education towards the end of the nineteenth century. Harris may quite reasonably have attended the latter as a tertiary student, an insight I shared with Bubbles, carefully adding that it would be worth making inquiries of SACS (school) alumni as well. She agreed.
But the thing that troubled me the most was the commencement date, that is, 1895. If this was correct, then my father may have been wrong in believing that his father had migrated to South Africa in 1897.
Bubbles had lived up to the promise of her name, but had thrown a new riddle into the mix.
It was time for some more cold-calling.