My father, Philip (or Phil as he was known), maintained a correspondence with Avrom for several years, contributing content to the family history.
I was amused to read that Phil used to look up Saltmans in the telephone directory when he was travelling overseas and call them on the off-chance that they might be related. I can see him thumbing through the Edinburgh White Pages while my mother agitates about visiting yet another art museum. My father did not share her love of museums. The argument they had following a visit to the Prado in the 1960’s was heated enough to have razed Madrid to the ground.
Regardless of whether calling up potential relatives was some kind of delaying tactic, Phil was regularly rebuffed and eventually gave up the habit. Perhaps in today’s world of social media, he would have had more success. I smile as I think how my father’s Facebook page might have appeared.
Phil revealed that Harris had emigrated to South Africa and qualified as an attorney, facts of which I had known for many years. He did not disclose a port or country of embarkation. But he did mention a date of emigration: 1897.
This had me confused. If Harris had only left Britain in 1897, then surely he would have been enumerated in the 1891 Census?
I revisited the Censuses of England, Wales and Scotland for that year. Had I missed something? No, I had been correct the first time. There was no evidence of my grandfather having lived anywhere in Britain in 1891. It entered my mind that he might have visited Ireland, but even this was a remote possibility. And if he had ventured across the Irish Sea, it would have been almost impossible to prove as records of both the 1881 and 1891 Censuses in Ireland were destroyed during the First World War.
Phil was known for his photographic memory and attention to detail. But had he made a mistake about the timing of his own father’s movements?