Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gan Eng Seng and family (Bukit Brown)

Gan Eng Seng was born in Malacca ( Melaka) in 1844. His Great Grandparents came from Sam-Toh, Fukien province. Born third in a family of 5, he had two elder sisters, Gan Gin Neo and Gan Guat Neo. He was the eldest son. His younger brother was Gan Eng Chye followed by the youngest sister, Gan Guan Neo. Born poor, he still was able to received some education, giving him the ability to read and write simple English. His father died when he was 16 years old.  He then left for Singapore and was involved initially in a nutmeg business in a small scale. He went on to served under Guthrie and Co.
Gan Eng Seng
Chief Campradore, Gutherie and Co
Thomas Scott, a partner of Gutherie, offered Gan Eng Seng a job in the godown at Coller Quay as a clerk and it was there he climbed up the ranks, from an Assistant Storekeeper to Chief Storekeeper and finally the Chief Campradore of Guthrie and Company after 13 years of service. He was the Chief Compradore for 25 years till he died in 1899.  (Chief Campradore is a native born-agent employed by foreign business to serve as intermediary in commercial transactions).

In 1864, when Tanjong Pagor Dock Company was formed, Gutherie and Co need labour desperately, and made Gan Eng Seng their labor contractor. Through his fourth wife Te Bok Neo /Teo Bok Neo and their son Gan Tiang Choon in Amoy, Gan Eng San was able to get labourers. The labourers from Amoy were received by his eldest adopted son Gan Tiang Tok, (chop Guan Ban Seng) who assisted him in this business. With transportation of the goods from the docks also increasingly important, Gan Eng Seng saw this as an opportunity and expanded his business by providing the bullock cart transport to the Tanjong Pagar Docks.

His peers in Gutherie included Tan Boon Chin and Simon Aroozoo. Simon Aroozoo was a good friend of Gan Eng Seng, who went on to acquire a portion of his estate in Serangoon. (there is a road name Aroozoo Avenue). He also help managed the estate after Gan Eng Seng's death in 1899. Many years later, this friendship will be renewed in the form of Simon Aroozoo's grandson. His grandson, Percival Frank Aroozoo became the Principal of Gan Eng Seng School  from 1938-1955, leading the school through its most challenging years and was instrumental in the move to its new building at the then Anson Road.

Founder of Anglo-Chinese Free School
Located at No 106 Telok Ayer Street, Gan Eng Seng paid $5000 for construction of this two storey building.The School which Gan Eng Sang founded in 1885 was originally known as Anglo-Chinese Free School and was to help provide education to poor children that lived in that area . A board of trustees was formed to managed it which included notable Chinese leaders such as Dr Lim Boon Keng. It came to be known as the Gan Eng Seng School only in 1923, 24 years after the death . In 1938 it became a government school.
Anglo-Chinese Free School
(source: a2O)
A generous man
Thong Chai Hospital  (Thong Chai Medical Institution, originally in Wayang Street) was founded by Gan Eng Seng and it provided free treatment and medicine. He also provided money for the maintenance of poor orphans and widows and for the destitute, supply of coffins. He also donated a freehold property to Tan Tock Seng hospital at Rochore in 1892. Gan Eng Seng built a school in his village and for his deeds, he was conferred by the Qing dynasty, the title of 5th imperial rank.

Gan Eng Seng died on September 9, 1899, age 55. Reports mentioned he died from blood poisoning (caused by a prick of his thumb by a piece of iron). He left behind 5 wives, 7 sons, 5 daughters, 4 grandsons. His sons are:
  • Gan Tiang Tok (adopted)
  • Gan Tiang Keng (adopted)
  • Gan Tiang Leong (adopted)
  • Gan Tiang Khay (adopted)
  • Gan Tiang Poh (adopted)
  • Gan Tiang Choon (born in China)
  • Gan Tiang Kwee
He appointed his partners, Thomas Scott, Sir John Anderson and Robert Frederick McNair Scott  (son of Thomas Scott) as executors and trustees of his will.  His residence was at No 87 Amoy Street (which still stands today).
(source: NewspaperSG) 
In 1921, for purpose of distribution, his estate was valued at $2 million ! After his death, Gan Tiang Tock took over the business. Originally buried in Pasir Panjang area, Gan Eng Seng family graves were re-interred in Bukit Brown on November 25, 1963.
Gan Eng Seng's tomb in Bukit Brown  
Family and Bukit Brown connection 

Wife: Madam Ho Chwee Neo
Madam Ho Chwee Neo died on October 25, 1934 at the age of 88 years at her residence in 162 Sims Avenue. She is survived by 2 sons (Gan Tiang Poh and Gan Tiang Kwee) and 4 daughters. She is buried in Bukit Brown, Hill 2 and is affected by the 8-lane highway. The peg no is 1966.
Madam Ho Chwee Neo
(1st wife of Gan Eng Seng)
Wife: Madam Koh Eng Geok 
Madam Koh Eng Geok died on April 14, 1944 at the age of 80 years and is also buried in the Gan Eng Seng's cluster of tombs. She is the mother of Gan Tiang Kwee.
Madam Koh Eng Geok
(2nd wife of Gan Eng Seng)
Wife: Madam Choo Ah Teng
Madam Choo Ah Teng died on May 1933. She is the mother of Gan Eng Seng's daughter: Gan Chin Neo.

Madam Choo Ah Teng
(3rd wife of Gan Eng Seng)
Son: Gan Tiang Tock /Gan Tiang Tok 
Gan Tiang Tock was of ill health from the time he took over the business in 1903 till he died in August 1927 at the age of 68. His tomb is located in Hill 2 and is buried beside his wife, Madam Cho Beng Guat who died in 1941 at the age of 72.
Gan Tiang Tock with the Matriarch Mrs  Gan Eng Seng,
his wife, children and grandchildren
He left behind 3 sons : Gan Hock Siew, Gan Hock Chuan, Gan Hock Swee. Daughter- Gan Ah Bee

Grandson : Gan Soon Guan, Gan Soon Tee, Gan Kee Poon Gan Kee Tian, Gan Kee Siang, Gan Kee Hong, Gan Kee Chwee, Gan Kee Soon (adopted). Grand-daughters : Gan Ding Neo, Gan Lian Neo, Gan Kim Hua, Gan Nellie, Gan Mary.
Gan Tiang Tock
Madam Cho Beng Guat
source: NewspaperSG
source: NewspaperSG
Son: Gan Tiang Keng
Gan Tiang Keng passed away on January 18, 1926 and is survived by 2 sons; Gan Hock Chwee, Gan Hock Yong, 1 daughter; Gan Beng Neo and grandchildren; Harry Gan, Sonny Gan and Alice Gan.

Son: Gan Tiang Leong

Gan Tiang Leong died in March 13, 1930 at the age of 52. His sons listed are Gan Hock Choo and Gan Hock Kee. He is buried in Hill 3 Division A, plot 739.

Son: Gan Tiang Khay

Son: Gan Tiang Poh
Gan Tiang Poh died in August 16, 1943 at the age of 65. His wife, Tan Im Neo pased away on April 9, 1961 at the age of 78. In 2011, their tomb was restored and a memorial ceremony held. His son (Gan Hock Chye) and daughter-in-laws tomb are in a cluster nearby in Hill 3.
source: Straits Times
Son's : Gan Hock Chye, Gan Hock Jin, Gan Hock Hoe, Gan Hock Kee, Gan Hock Huat
Daughters:  Gan Hock Neo, Gan Ding Neo, Gan Soo Neo, Gan Chit Neo.

Gan Tiang Poh and Tan Im Neo
Gan Hock Chye
His eldest son, Gan Hock Chye, a rubber broker, died at the age of 36 on November 28, 1937 at his residence in No 16, Joo Chiat Lane, off Joo Chiat Road leaving behind his aged parents, 2 sons ( Gan Beng Kiat, Gan Beng Choon) 1 daughter (Gan Cheng Neo), 1 adopted daughter (Gan Beng Neo). He is buried in Bukit Brown close by to his wife, Koh Soh Neo (died February 3, 1945 age 45)

Son: Gan Tiang Choon
Gan Tiang Choon was a director in The Asia Insurance Co, Ltd. He passed away in July 1926, and was buried in Blk 1 Sec B, Plot No 163. He was said to be involved in the Xin Hai revolution.
Gan Tiang Choon 
The Straits Times, 1927
(source: NewspaperSG) 
Son: Gan Tiang Kwee 
Gan Tiang Kwee was in Gan Eng Seng School Board of Trustees in 1923. He was also a director in the Asia Insurance Co, Ltd and a member of  the Po Leung Kuk in 1924.
Gan Tiang Kwee and wife 
Mrs Gan Tiang Kwee (Madam Chua Siew Lan) passed away on July 27, 1957 age 70 at No 51, Dunbar Walk, Frankel Estate.She left behind 1 son, Gan Hock Hye / Gan Hock Hai, 3 daughters,( Gan Choo Neo and Gan Eng Neo),  1 daughter in-law, 1 son-in-law.  Grandson - Gan Hui Heng.

Gan Tiang Kwee (died 1943, age 55) and his wife Chua Siew Lan are buried in the Gan Eng Seng's cluster.
Gan Tiang Kwee
Gan Eng Seng - Chew Boon Lay connection
One of Chew Hock Ann's daughter, Chew Koh Neo married Gan Kee Tian. (Gan Kee Tian is the grandson  of Gan Tiang Tok, while Chew Koh Neo is the grand-daughter of Chew Boon Lay )

[will update as i find more information especially on the rest of Gan Eng Seng's sons]

Death of Mr. Gan Eng Seng.(1899, September 9). The Singapore Free Press, page 2
The Singapore Free Press. (1900, January 12). The Singapore Free Press, page 2
Advertisement.(1925, September 26). The Singapore Free Press, page 15
Matters Chinese. (1926, July 6). The Singapore Free Press, page 6
Advertisement. (1927, August 9). The Straits Times, page 5
Advertisement.(1928, May 31). The Straits Times, page 7
Death. (1934, August 27). The Straits Times, page 10
Death. (1937, December 1). The Straits Times, page 2
Death. (1957, July 28). The Straits Times, page 24
The Pictorial History of Gan Eng Seng School. Gan Eng Seng School Old Student's Association. 2006
Song, O.S. (1984). One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press,
Percival Frank Aroozoo. [website] from Infopedia.
Gan Eng Seng. [website] from Infopedia
Gan Eng Seng School. [website] from Infopedia
颜永成家族. [website] from 咖啡山墓碑

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bidadari (17 December)

I was on leave on a Monday morning and went down to Bidadari to do a spot of birdwatching again.  I spotted the Chestnut-winged Cuckoo today but unfortunately the beautiful bird was very skittish as usual and i could not follow where it eventually flew towards to.

It was a nice quiet Monday morning too, at not many birds in sight. Throughout my whole morning, i bumped into a total of 3 bird photographers and the same student from National University of Singapore Life Sciences doing her final year dissertation field research on the squirrel population in Bidadari (variable and plantain) that i met the last time i was there on December 7. She was there from 7 am and still observing the squirrels by the time i left.

Laced Woodpecker (male)
Laced Woodpecker (female)

Oriental Cuckoo

Variable Squirrel 

Plantain Squirrel 

Indian Cuckoo eating a caterpillar 
Tiger Shrike 
Koel (male) 
It was almost 1 pm when i decided to make my way back partly because the sky was also turning dark with the threat of potential rain (indeed later in rained). When i was about to leave, i saw a flock of  9-10  Black Baza's (only manage to take a picture with six of them in the sky, catching a thermal ). It got me thinking that this might the last time, this beautiful migratory birds might be able to a pit stop in this place, with Bidadari slated for development soon and the trees here to be cleared by next year. A very sad thought indeed. 

Flock of Black Baza's

Other postings on Bidadari
Bidadari (7 December), posted on December 9, 2012
Saving Bidadari, posted on December 5, 2012
Bidadari (18 November), posted on November 23, 2012

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Bidadari (7 December)

A lovely morning in Bidadari
It's a Friday morning and i am on leave today. Decided to make a trip to Bidadari on my own to a bit of birdwatching. Thinking there will be very few people there on a weekday morning, i was so wrong. During my excursion there that lasted till almost 2pm, i met at least 12 bird photographers, mostly with their "bazooka" lenses. The 1 person i met there that wasn't bird watching or doing nature photography was a student from National University of Singapore Life Sciences doing her final year dissertation field research on the squirrel population in Bidadari (variable and plantain). She really showed patience as she was there half the day in the some location observing the squirrels.

This time around, i entered via Bartley MRT side and took a train via Woodleigh side. This woodlands is to me one of the most accessible nature spot in the whole of Singapore by public transport.

It was another good day for me and i manage catch sight for the first time (some birders call it "a lifer") a pair of Chestnut-winged Cuckoo ! That the highlight of my visit to Bidadari to-date, catching glimpse of a pair of Chestnut-winged Cuckoo. Unfortunately, the only thing is i don't have a clear shot of it, but that's ok, i was still ecstatic.

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo
Below are some of the pictures i took on December 7th. Had great fun spotting this birds especially the Black Bazas who were very busy feeding on insects.

Black Baza

Oriental Cuckoo 
Banded Woodpecker
Black Baza
Variable Squirrel feeding on figs

Other post on Bidadari
Saving Bidadari, posted on December 5, 2012
Bidadari (18 November), posted on November 23, 2012

Friday, December 07, 2012

Teo Cheng Hee and family (Bukit Brown)

Teo Cheng Hee was a storekeeper for the East Asiatic Company until he retired. He held a retail liquor shop license for his shop in No 33 High Street and was also a rice merchant in partnership together with Wee Kah Kiat, Wee Kah Keng and Goei Kim Lian during the 1920's. The company, Hong Guan and Company (chop Huan Guan) was located at No 4 New Bridge Road.

Teo Cheng Hee died on November 28, 1935 at the age of 55 in his residence in No 17 Balmoral Road. He left behind a wife, Madam Wee Burok,  4 sons (Teo Koon Beng, Teo Koon Wah, Teo Koon Gee and Teo Koon Hoe) and 3 daughters (Teo Missie, Teo Jossy,Teo Nellie), one son-in-law (Joseph Chye) and one daughter-in-law (Madam Tan Mui Kioh).
Tomb of Teo Cheng Hee (almost covered by the jungle)

Tomb of Teo Cheng Hee (taken from the left)

source: NewspaperSG

Parents: Mr and Mrs Teo Guan Bee
His mother, Tan Geok Neo passed away at No 5 Balmoral Road in August 20, 1918 survived by Teo Cheng Hee and his brother Teo Cheng Kwee. She was buried in Bukit Timah cemetery.

Wife: Wee Tiang Hee alias Wee Burok
Wee Tiang Hee alias Wee Burok, is the daughter of Mr and Mrs Wee Kay Siang. She passed away in July 9,1952 at her residence in 91-G Rangoon Road. She was survived by two sons, two daughters, 1 son-in-law, 1 daughter-in-law.

Father-in-law: Wee Kay Siang
Wee Kay Siang was a well known Straits born Chinese whose parents came from China to Malacca long ago. Born in 1858, he was a well known banker and a director of the Old Singapore Opium Farms and Hong Kong farms before the British colony government took over. He was also the storekeeper for Messrs. Brinkmann and Co for 52 years. Wee Kay Siang passed away at his residence at "Ben Nevis", No 75 Thomson Road. Son-in-law and father-in-law had a litigation tussle where Teo Cheng Hee claimed $600 (for six month wages) and Wee Kay Siang counter-claimed $3000 on a promissory note. Wee Kay Siang won the case.

Source: NewspaperSG

Eldest son, Teo Koon Beng
Teo Koon Beng married Miss Ang Poh Hian, eldest daughter of the late Mr Ang Eng Moh of Penang in March 1936. Teo Koon Beng died in June 1955.
Teo Keng Beng and Ang Poh Hian
source: NewspaperSG
Eldest daughter: Helen Teo
His eldest daughter, Helen Teo married Joseph Chye, eldest son of Mr Chye Fook Sinn and the late Mrs Chye Fook Sinn on November 9, 1935 at St. Theresa's Church. Mr Teo Cheng Hee died 19 days later.

Mr Teo Cheng Hee's grave is located in Hill 4 Division A plot 401/393.

Licensing Sessions. (1903, April 8). The Straits Times, page 5
A family squabble. (1909, May 19). The Straits Times, page 8
Social and Personal. (1918, August 23). The Straits Times, page 8
Advertisement.(1923, June 18). The Singapore Free Press, page 2
Death of Mr Wee Kay Siang. (1925, August 1). The Straits Times, page 10
Advertisements. (1935, November 12). The Straits Times, page 2
Domestic Occurances Death. (November 29, 1935). The Singapore Free Press, page 8
Advertisements.(February 21, 1936). The Straits Times, page 2
Untitled. (March 24, 1936). The Straits Times, page 16
Deaths. (July 11, 1952). The Straits Times, page 8

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Saving Bidadari

I read with great interest an article in the Straits Times dated Dec 4, 2012 on the current campaign by Nature Society to save Bidadari, or to be more accurate, a portion of Bidadari as a parkland /woodland. This is because of the recent records by ecologist and bird enthusiast of the Nature Society that there are recorded sightings of 59 migratory bird species, more than any sightings anywhere in Singapore. The possible reason for this is that Bidadari could be right smack in the path of migratory birds that come from as far as Kamchatka, Russia on their way to Indonesia as part of the winter migration. One of the rare migratory birds sighted here, as mentioned in the report was the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher.

According to the article, the Urban Development Authority's (URA) Masterplan 2008 has put into consideration an area within Bidadari as a parkland, but this differs substantially for Nature Society's proposal. It's too early to see what will happen, but let's hope for a win win situation for all parties and that Nature Society can be consulted and advice sought when this park is built and this rest point for migratory birds can be maintained for years to come.

source: Straits Times (4 December 2012)

In the meantime, i will try to spare some time to make more visits to Bidadari before the development of it begins.Who knows, i might catch sight of the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher.

My previous trips:
Bidadari (18 November), posted on November 23, 2012

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Unique tomb with Immortals (Bukit Brown)

I have walked and combed Hill 2 in the vicinity of See Tiong Wah's tomb many times. In this particular trip, i explored the tombs downhill towards the direction of the stream. A tomb which was exhumed sometime ago caught my eye. The guardian statues that flank it looked very different from the rest of ones i seen in Bukit Brown before.

Taking a closer look, true enough -it was statutes of 2 men ! With the help of Bukit Brown community, i found out that they represented two of the Eight Immortals (八仙). The statute on the far left is Iron-Crutch Li ( Li Tieguai) 鐵拐李 while on the right is Han Zhongli (Zhongli Quan) 钟离权

Iron-Crutch Li (Tieguai Li)鐵拐李

Han Zhongli (Zhongli Quan) 钟离权
I am not familiar nor i am expert with the stories and legends about the Eight Immortals, so what i will do is highlight some of the resources online that i found useful.

The tomb occupant: Poh Soon Cheow
Poh Soon Cheow was born on September 24, 1874 and died on July 13, 1928. What remains from the tomb are the names of the deceased sons, daughters, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren.

Sons: Poh Hoe Swee, Poh Kim Chong, Poh Chew Bock
Daughters: Poh Sam Bin, Poh Eng Keow, Poh Kim Eng

Daughters-in-law: Soh Kim Kee, Yeo Hay Neo

Grandsons: Poh Kong Eng, Poh Giong Huat, Poh Kong Hwee

Poh Hoe Swee (just like his father) was a building contractor and he was responsible for a few awarded tenders including winning a contract worth $8,990 to do general repairs, painting and washing to the Criminal and Magistrates Court in South Bridge Road. Poh Hoe Swee (Poh Ho Swee) died on January 11, 1941. His residence was at No 355 East Coast Road. Poh Kim Chong(his brother), Soh Kiat Choon and Ng Cheong Yew were executors of his will.

Tomb back showing mountains and trees

Tomb back showing mountains and trees

Museum Extension. (1934, July 24). The Straits Times, page 12
New Malay School. (1937, January 11). The Straits Times, page 7
Repairs to Courts: Tenders.(1939, August 1). The Straits Times, page 14
Advertisements. (1941, April 2). The Straits Times, page 5
Lǐ Tiěguǎi 李铁拐: A Diseased Beggar.[website]. Tales of the Eight Immortals.
Zhōnglí Quán 种离权: A Defeated Warrior. [website].Tales of the Eight Immortals.
Eight Immortals. [website].Wikipedia