Thursday, 6 June 2013

Take nothing on faith

In my recent post concerning the life of Gus Seal after the Brisbane Band, I made the following assertions involving his sons.

  • In 1887, Gus stated that his son Charles Henry was a seaman but he did not know his whereabouts. The absence of any official records other than his birth suggests that he had left the colony and never returned.
  • Harriet continued to use the Seal (Siegel) name until her death in 1904 when she was buried in the same grave as Gus in Toowong Cemetery by their son William.

Each statement contains a fact that is soundly based in documented evidence and an inference that it transpires is completely unfounded. My only defence for having made two such blunders in one post is that one followed logically from the other. I have at least been internally consistent.

This morning I took the time to read the full text of the inscription on Grave 67 in Portion 5 of what is now called Toowong Cemetery, but was known as Brisbane General Cemetery at the turn of the twentieth century.

William August Siegel
d 10 June 1901 aged 80
Also his wife Harriet
d 6 August 1904 aged 67
Erected by their son Charles

Here was the evidence showing Charles Henry Siegel in Queensland after 1887 which I originally said that I could not find. To my eternal shame, it was literally carved in stone. My challenge now is to locate further confirmation.

Of course, as soon as you learn that a claim is wrong, the evidence that it was becomes glaringly obvious. I already had identified the fact that William outlived his mother by less than a month. Thus is is implausible that he was the one who arranged for the monument on her grave.

All of this has reinforced an important principle: When publishing a claim, check the evidence once more. Next time, I will try doing that in the other order.


  1. It's something we all have done in the excitement of the moment. I applaud you for sharing this tale on your blog.

    1. Thanks for that supportive attitude. I decided to try to channel my guilt for the common good through a cautionary tale. And the great thing is that I can now REALLY search for Charles.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...