Confirmation or more questions?

Avrom’s words came back to haunt me:

“…(a) recurring theme… is the frequent inaccuracy of all sources of information relied upon by the amateur and professional genealogist – even the evidence of their own eyes!  This inaccuracy is usually the consequence of carelessness and indifference rather than the product of deliberate deception.  These strictures apply to official sources, just as much as, if not more than private records or memories…the more varied the sources, the greater the confusion.”[1]

I had established a few facts about JA Edleman.  I knew that his year of birth was either 1882 or 1883.  I knew that he had not been born in Britain, because there was no record of his birth in the United Kingdom.

My theory that he had most likely been born in South Africa was just that: a theory.

The National Archives of South Africa (NASA) database of all archives repositories and national registers of non-public records holds 79 documents for persons with the surname Edelman and four documents for persons with the surname Edleman.  There are also 49 documents bearing the surname Saltman, some of which relate to my grandfather.

NASA files are held in various archival repositories in major South African cities.  Apart from deciding which files were relevant – at times involving a bit of guesswork – I had to find a researcher to retrieve and copy the information on my behalf.

As it turned out, I have used a couple of South African based researchers.

One of them emailed information she thought might be of interest to me.





First name

Karel or Carl




Odessa, Russia

Oletzko Margrabovoi, Prussia, Germany

Wilna[2], Russia






Cigarette maker

Feather buyer

General dealer

Residence (Town/City)

Port Elizabeth


Cape Town

Length of time in Colony[3]

19 months

24 years

3 years

Date of Application[4]

15 June 1897

21 May 1904

2 December 1903

The cigarette maker and general dealer from Russia didn’t ring any bells for me.  But the German-born feather buyer, Isaac Edelman, certainly did.

Harris Edelman hailed from Germany and his occupation – as stated on his death certificate in 1924 – was “retired feather dealer”.  Ladismith, a small town in the Klein Karoo of the Cape Colony, was known for its feather trade at the end of the nineteenth century.

Was it possible that Isaac and Harris Edelman were related?

It was the researcher’s concluding paragraph, however, that tore me away from this question.  She had found the following information in the Cape Town Hebrew Congregation Birth Register:

Aaron Edelman (Aharon Zelik ben Tzvi) son of Henry Edelman and Sarah Marks.

This was a son of Harris – here calling himself Henry – and my great grandmother, possibly born in Cape Town.  No birth date was given, only that the birth was registered between 29 December 1882 and 14 February 1883.

Was Aharon Zelik, son of (ben Tzvi) Henry Edelman, John Albert Edelman?

Or was I being careless and indifferent to assume so?

[1]               To be buried in Grimsby, page 4

[2]               Vilna or Vilnius, capital of Lithuania

[3]               Cape Colony

[4]               I am not certain what this relates to, possibly application for citizenship or registration to vote


4 thoughts on “Confirmation or more questions?

  1. Pingback: Picking my way through Rootsbank | In search of Harris

  2. Pingback: Reuben | In search of Harris

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s