Grace Edelman gradually faded into the recesses of my past. Any opportunity that I may have had to learn more about her father evaporated as she moved from this world into the next.
If I wanted to know more about JA, I would have to be satisfied with whatever the official records of his life could tell me.
A Mr and Mrs Edleman, together with a R and J Edleman and a Master Edleman, arrive in London on 17 September on the Otranto, the voyage having started in Brisbane, Australia. The Edlemans have embarked at Port Said, Egypt. All but Master Edleman are listed as merchants. Could this be Harris and Sarah, and their sons Reuben and JA? It’s tempting to think so, but it’s not certain.
JA, his wife and two children arrive in London on the Omrah, which has begun its journey in Brisbane. They embark at Port Said. JA is cited as an employee of the Egyptian government and the family’s place of residence, for at least a year prior, is Egypt. JA’s age is given as 37, which puts his date of birth at 1877 or 1878. This does not seem correct, as Harris and Sarah Edleman did not marry until 1878 and their first child was born in December 1879.
They disembark at Port Said and their country of intended permanent future residence is stated as Egypt. Their country of last permanent residence is identified simply as “Foreign countries”.
JA is not listed on the manifest so one assumes that he remained in England, possibly on account of military duties.
Maybe Anna had wanted, during a time of war, to be closer to her family in Egypt. Whatever her reasons, the family must have returned to live in England either during or after the War.
JA’s title is given as Lt (lieutenant) implying that he had seen war service. The family’s country of last permanent residence is stated as England and their intended country of future permanent residence as Abyssinia, an independent country that would later become part of Ethiopia. Abyssinia is probably best known for Mussolini’s invasion in 1935 that deposed Haile Selassie from the Abyssinian throne and united Abyssinia, Eritrea and Somaliland under the King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel.
JA’s occupation is given as “manager” and his age as 37. This gives his date of birth as 1882 or 1883, which is a more realistic estimate.
JA was a British citizen, but there is no record of his birth in the United Kingdom. The only reasonable explanation is that he was born in South Africa.
If this is true then, by association, my grandfather was also living in South Africa circa 1882 as well. My eight year gap had potentially shrunk to one or two years.
If my distraction with the life of JA had helped me close the gap, then it had also saved me unwanted labour of another sort: I now had no need to delve into American records!