After Israel’s death, my only way of tracking Harris’ movements through childhood, adolescence and into early adulthood would be through his association with the Edleman family.
The 1881 English Census had listed Harris, together with his mother (Sarah), her father, a newly acquired half-brother (Joseph), and a host of relatives and boarders, as living in Liverpool. Sarah’s second husband and Harris’ stepfather, Mr Edleman, was not present at that time.
The Census took place in April 1881. It also told me that Joseph was one year old and had been born in Liverpool. From that, it appeared that the family had been living in Liverpool at least since early 1880.
But a comment my father had made to Avrom continued to distract me. This was that “(after her first husband’s death)….Sarah later married a man called Edelman (sic). They went to Edinburgh and had at least four sons.”
The sequence of events implied by the second sentence seemed incontrovertible. They went to Edinburgh and had at least four sons. In that order. But when?
I set about scouring Scotland’s People for evidence of the Edleman family after 1881. I had discounted the possibility of their having moved to Edinburgh before then with no basis for doing so other than a hunch. I was breaking a cardinal rule of genealogical research.
I found no evidence of the Edelmans in the 1891 Scottish Census nor in a random trawl of other databases on Scotland’s People. My patience with the Edelmans’ Scottish phase – if it indeed had existed – ran out as my credits expired. I abandoned the search.
From Scotland’s People, I had drifted to the Edinburgh City Archives in search of further clues – they had none – and this in turn led me to the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre and its principal researcher, Harvey Kaplan.
My luck had turned. Harvey had information from my great grandmother’s death certificate which helped tie up a few loose ends.
Sarah had died at the age of 67 in 1924. Her husband was Harris Edelman, retired feather dealer. Her usual place of residence was 22 Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh.
So my father had been correct: the Edelman family had indeed moved to Edinburgh at some point. On rereading that second sentence (“…they went to Edinburgh and had at least four sons”), I realised that the addition of four more sons had not necessarily occurred after the family’s move to Edinburgh.
With hindsight, that my father had not mentioned Liverpool in recollections of his father’s early life should have sounded a warning bell to me when I embarked on my “Scottish campaign”. He must not have known about the Liverpool years. If I’d appreciated this earlier, my research could have taken a completely different turn. But then I would not have found Harvey Kaplan. Chasing Scottish leads had thus not been in vain.
Harvey advised me to check for a birth certificate for Joseph Edelman or his brothers, which would lead me to details of when and where his mother may have married Harris Edelman. Unfortunately, I had no names for other children, so that particular investigation would have to keep for the time being.
But I could confirm birth details for Joseph and marriage details for his parents. In respect of the latter, all I had to do was put “Sarah Saltman” and “Joseph Edelman” (or Edleman) into Find My Past and a transcript of their marriage record would pop up. This would list the year and quarter of registration, volume and page number; enough information for me to order a copy of their marriage certificate which would show details of where they had married and were living at the time.
It would be as easy as that.
Or so I thought.