Saturday, September 21, 2013

Oon Chin Soon and family (Bukit Brown)

Broken marble plaque of Mr Oon Chin Soon's tomb
Mr. Oon Chin Soon was the Chief Cashier of of Messrs. Katz Bros Ltd for 48 years. His son is Mr. Oon Beng Teck and son-in-law Ong Boon Tat. Mr. Ong Boon Tat married Mr and Mrs Oon Chin Soon's only daughter, Madam Oon Chim Neo.

Katz Bros Limited
The company was co-founded by Hermann Katz (a naturalised Englishman ) in 1864-1865. From being solely shopkeepers, the brothers expanded to include wholesale, commissioning agents and general imports. In 1872, a Dutch-Acheh war broke out and the firm profited from contracts providing supplies to the Dutch Army as well as its colonies in Sumatra. In 1878, his brother A.Katz retired and Hermann Katz became sole owner. The business continue to thrive in import/export and at one time it also cornered the local pepper supply. It opened a branch in Penang in 1888 and several ice factories in Singapore. It had also a concession  for distributing oil for one of the largest oil refineries in Asia, Maatschappij Tot Mjin en Bosch en Landbouw Exploitatie en Langkat. In 1896, an advancing in age Hermann Katz decided to convert it to a limited company with a capital of $1 million dollars, with him as Chairman.
Katz Brothers Limited
Boat Quay as viewed from Cavenagh Bridge, Singapore.
The ornate building on the left houses the offices of Katz Brothers Limited c1905.
(source: a20)
Goods sold in Katz Brothers Limited 
Mr Oon Chin Soon passed away in March 21, 1929 at the age of 65. He is survived by his wife, son; Oon Beng Teck and son-in-law; Ong Boon Tat. He is buried in Hill 3 A plot 226 1/2.

Mrs Oon Chin Soon nee Lim Seok Neo (Tengah) passed away at the age of 79 at her residence in "Bukit Rose", 259 Bukit Timah Road on May 18, 2603 (1943). She is survived by her only son, Oon Beng Teck and adopted daughter, Wee Bee Neo and the following grandchildren: Ong Tiang Wee, Oon Tiang Hye, Oon Tiang Cheng, Ong Tiang Guan, Ong Tiang Swee, Ong Lim Neo, Ong Tiang Hin, adopted grandson, O. Young and great grandchildren; Theresa Lim Kiang Ong, Oon Nellie, Oon Soon Ein, Ong Eng Yeow, Oon Gladys, Oon Nancy. The funeral took place on May 22, 2603 (1943) from her residence in Bukit Rose to Bukit Brown. (If you recalled, Bukit Rose was the family home of Mr and Mrs Ong Sam Leong. In 1943, Ong Boon Tat has already passed away (in 1941). Ownership of the house would have been with either Ong Peng Hock or Ong Boon Tat's eldest son; Ong Tiang Wee)
Madam Lim Seok Neo (Tengah)
Tomb of Mr and Mrs Oon Chin Soon

Son: Oon Beng Teck 
When Mrs Lim Cheng Wee passed, away, Dr.S. K. Lim, Oon Beng Teck, Lim Roberts, Lim Soon Chin and sisters were mentioned. This implied that Mr. Oon Beng Teck's mother-in-law is Mrs. Lim Cheng Wee (nee Lee Kwan Neo). Mrs Lim Cheng Wee is buried in Bukit Brown.

In another article dated 1916, there was a mention of Mr Oon Beng Teck marrying a Miss Wee, daughter of late Mr Wee Sen Kang.
December, 25, 1923 (source: NewspaperSG) 
Daughter: Oon Chim Neo
Oon Chim Neo was one of the earlier batches of chinese ladies to receive western education and graduated top of her class from the Singapore Chinese Girls School. She married Ong Boon Tat (son of Mr and Mrs Ong Sam Leong). After Madam Oon Chim Neo passed away at the age of 31 on March 12, 1917 at her father's house in 6 Balmoral Road , a beautiful and large tomb was erected  by her son, Mr Ong Tiang Wee. Madam Oon Chim Neo's tomb is technically located in the Seh Ong cemetery which is across the gates of Bukit Brown, along Kheam Hock road. Her peg number is no 77 which means her tomb is affected by the 8 lane highway.
Oon Chim Neo 
Exhumation in Toa Payoh of Oon Chin Soon's parents
In a notice of exhumation dated June 23, 1967, i gained further insight into the family of Oon Chin Soon. The deceased exhumed was a Oon Mung Wee, See Kwan Liew Neo, (Madam Wee Kwan Liew Neo). Listed are son: Oon Chin Soon, Daughters: Oon Choo Kim Neo, Oon Choo Cheo Neo, Grandsons: Oon Beng Teck, Oon Beng Kong, Grand-daughter: Oon Chim Neo.
source: NewspaperSG

Local and Personal. (1916, July 3). The Straits Times
Domestic Occurrences. (1923, December 25). The Singapore Free Press
Untitled. (1929, April 5). The Straits Times, page 17
Death. (1943, May 11). The Syonan Times
Advertisement. (1967, June 23). The Straits Times
Wright, A., & Cartwright, H. A. (1908). Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya: Its History. People, Commerce, Industries, and Resources, London: Lloyd's Greater Britain Publishing Company

Monday, September 16, 2013

Chua Swa Chwee (Bukit Brown)

Mr Chua Swa Chwee was a fishing merchant, commission agents and fishing stake owners of various companies at Clyde Terrace Market under the following company names, Chop Sin Guan Huat, Chop Guan Hin, Chop Guan Seng and Chop Guan Kee. In a 1928 report of the Commission on Profiteering, i gained insight into Chua Swa Chwee expanse of  business. He handled about $20,000 worth of fish per month in the 1920's and has been in the fishing business for the past 22 years. Other than being a successful businessman, Chua Swa Chwee was very active socially and involve in various community groups:
  • Trustee of Senh Chua Burial Ground Committee (Silat Road) 
  • Jin Hua Kok Association (Vice President)
  • Straits Bachelors' Physical Culture Club (Vice President) 
  • Oleh Oleh Party (Patron)
  • Wales Minstrels (President)
  • Gunung Sayang Association
  • Chinese Association (Vice President)
  • Young Men's Friendly Society (Vice President)
  • Chinese Swimming Club (Vice-President)
Chua Swa Chwee donated to Geylang Girls' School Building Fund, Wonosobo Relief Fund and in the arts arena contributed to various fund raising causes as well.

Chua Swa Chwee is buried in Hill 3, Division A, plot 271 1/2 and 255

Chua Swa Chwee

Wales Minstrels 1929
(source: NewspaperSG)

(source: NewspaperSG)
(source: NewspaperSG)

Chua Swa Chwee passed away at the age of 62  on June 9, 1940, 9 pm at his house in No 250 Tembeling Road and is survived by his wife, 5 sons ( Chua Cheng Kang, Chua Cheng Whatt, Chua Cheng Guan, Chua Cheng Soon, Chua Cheng Kim ) and 3 daughters (Chua Hong Neo, Chua Siew Hong, Chua Bee Hong), 3 son-in-laws ( Tan Thiam Hock, Oh Kim Chiang and Khoo Cheng Kim)

In March 20, 1940 , (less than 3 months before his death) a notice to revoke the power of attorney of his eldest son, Chua Cheng Kang and remove his authority or power to manage the businesses of his father.
(source: NewspaperSG)


Son: Chua Cheng Guan
The below shows the wedding of Mr Chua Cheng Guan (a science teacher attached to a Government school and third son of the late Mr and Mrs Chua Swa Chwee) and Miss Magdalene Yeo Kim Bee (only daughter of Mrs Yeo Guan Eam and the late Mr Yeo Guan Eam). The wedding took place in April 1958.
Chua Cheng Guan and Miss Yeo Kim Bee

Daughter: Miss Chua Lian Neo
The below shows the wedding of Mr. Tan Kim Hong, second son of Mr and Mrs Tan Yean Kay to Miss Chua Lian Neo, daughter of Mr and Mrs Chua Swa Chwee. However, i am unable to find on the tomb of Mr Chua Swa Chwee the name Miss Chua Lian Neo. Did she passed away before Mr Chua Swa Chwee or a case of mistaken research identity?
source: NewspaperSG

Father of Chua Swa Chwee
Chua Swa Chwee father's tomb is located in Lao Sua and is beautifully engraved tomb with one panel featuring monkey god. The date of death mentioned in the tomb was April 12, 1918. In an advertisement article in Malaya Tribune dated 11 October 1919, the tomb mason, Chop Chuan Hiap Seng put up an advertisement to thank Chua Swa Chwee for a generous tip of $800 (a princely sum in 1919)for the construction of the tomb you see below.

Chua Swa Chwee's tomb in  Bukit Brown

Sons of Chua Swa Chwee

Profiteering Commission. (1920, December 25). The Singapore Free Press, page 7
Senh Chua Burial Ground. (1921, September 24). The Straits Times, page 10
Chinese Swimming Club. (1927, December 30). The Singapore Free Press, page 16
Wales Minstrels. (1935, March 16). The Straits Times, page 16
Chinese Association.(1939, April 2). The Straits Times, page 6
New Office Bearers of Oleh Oleh Party. (1940, February 19). The Straits Times, page 11
Advertisement. (1940, March 30). The Straits Times, page 2
Advertisement. (1940, June 12). The Straits Times, page 2

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Cheong Koon Seng (Bukit Brown)

Cheong Koong Seng, J.P., M.C. was born in 1880 and educated in Anglo Chinese School. Cheong Koon Seng,  is the proprietor of Messrs. Cheong Koon Seng & Co. and holds the honor of being one of the best known pioneer local auctioneers and estate agents in Singapore. He was trained under the auctioneering firm Powell & Co for 20 years and was also the manager of Commercial Rubber Co. Ltd from 1918-1920, before striking it out on his own in January 1920, based initially at 80 Kling Street under the style of Messrs Cheong Koon Seng and Co. His partner was Ong Hong Guan who died 5 years later and Cheong Koon Seng's eldest son took over as partner.

One of two son's of Mr Cheong Ann Bee, a wealthy first generation Straits born merchant from Malacca, Cheong Koon Seng and his brother Cheong  Koon Hong were responsible for the building of Theatre Royal in North Bridge Road (former Blanco Court, now Raffles Hospital) and are the proprietors of the Star Opera Co. which performs opera every night (except Thursday's) in the Malay language. Performances include Shakespearean pieces such as Hamlet, stories such as Arabian Nights, Ali Baba to chinese classics such as Sam-pek Eng-Tai.
Cheong Koon Seng
(source: NewspaperSG)

Theatre Royal - Star Opera Co.
(source: a20 )
Partially demolished Theatre Royal circa 1977
(source: a20)
Mr Cheong Koon Seng contributed to the community and played a very active role in various colonial and association responsibilities. This included:

  • Justice of Peace (1926)
  • Municipal Commissioner (1931)
  • President of the Chinese Swimming Club
  • President of the Straits Junior Association
  • President of the Anglo Chinese Old Boys' Association.
  • President of the Singapore Funeral Association.
  • President of Chinese Association (1931)
  • Vice President of the Straits Chinese British Association
  • Chartered Member of the first Rotarian Club

Mr. Cheong Koon Seng and his staff
(source: NewspaperSG)
Cheong Koon Seng & Co at Kling Street

Lat Pau (April 24, 1920)
Cheong Kong Seng & Co at Chulia Street


Cheong Koon Seng passed away peacefully at his residence, "Valley-side" in No 299 River Valley Road at 9 am on March 20, 1934 at the age of 55. He was not in good health for the last few months and 16 days prior to his passing, he was operated upon at General Hospital. He showed initial signs of recovery but then had a relapsed. He is survived by his wife (Chia Siew Tin), three sons ( Cheong Hock Chye, Cheong Hock Guan and Cheong Hock Leng), 4 daughters (Cheong Keong Poh,Cheong Keong Tee, Cheong Keong Tuan, Cheong Keong Hee, Cheong Keong Aik, Cheong Keong Heok)  and 4 grandchildren.

The funeral was well attended and 5 lorries were needed to ferry over 500 wreaths ! He is buried together with his mother and his wife (Madam Chia Siew Tin)

Funeral of Cheong Koon Seng
(source: NewspaperSG)
Funeral of Cheong Koon Seng
(source: NewspaperSG)

Funeral of Cheong Koon Seng
(source: NewspaperSG)

Cheong Koon Seng's tomb 

Mr. Cheong Koon Seng


Wife: Chia Chye Hay Neo (died 1916)
Madam Chia Chye Hay Neo, wife of Cheong Koon Seng passed away on  May 16, 1916 at No 681 North Bridge Road at the age of 36. Madam Chia Chye Hay Neo is the daughter of Mr. Chia Ann Siang (this is my theory and not proven yet). She is buried together with her mother-in-law, Mrs. Cheong Ann Bee

Wife: Chia Siew Tin (died 1953)
Madam Chia Siew Tin is the sister of Mr. Chia Keng Tye or daughter of Mr. Chia Hood Theam. She passed away on March 17, 1953.
Madam Chia Siew Tin
Madam Chia Siew Tin 
Grandfather: Cheong Koe Boon
Cheong Koe Boon was born in China and migrated to Malacca where he settled down as a trader.

Father: Cheong Ann Bee
Cheong Ann Bee was born in Malacca in 1833 and came to Singapore when he was 10 years old. He spoke no English as he attended Chinese school as a boy but nevertheless work in European firms such as Messrs. Dare & Co. and W. Mansfield & Co. He went on to venture into shipchandlery business  together with Tan Eng Siew under the name Ann-Bee, Eng-Siew & Co. In 1878, they parted ways and Cheong Ann Bee eventually partner Syed Mohamed Alsagoff and Lim Eng Keng in the firm Ann Bee & Co until it was eventually wound up in 1898. Cheong Ann Bee was known for his charitable disposition in providing eye salve (ointment) to those in need, especially coolies.
Cheong Ann Bee died on March 9, 1896.

Mother: Mrs Cheong Ann Bee
Mrs Cheong Ann Bee passed away on April 2, 1927 at No 95-5 River Valley Road. She was 75 years old. She is survived by 2 sons, 7 daughters, 7 son-in-laws, 43 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren.

Funeral of Mrs Cheong Ann Bee, April 1927
(source: NewspaperSG)
Mrs Cheong Ann Bee's tomb

Brother: Cheong Koon Hong
Mr. Cheong Koon Hong passed away at the age of 81 in October 1964. He is survived by a widow, 4 sons ( Cheong Hock Quee, Cheong Hock Siew, Cheong Hock Lock, 6 daughters, 5 daughter-in-laws, six son-in-laws, many grandchildren. Funeral service was held at Church of Holy Family, Katong.
Mrs Cheong Koon Hong (nee Madam Yeo Kim Yan ) passed away peacefully at her residence in no 75 Koon Seng Road on March 8, 1941 at 9:30 pm. She is survived by her husband,  5 sons, 6 daughters, 1 daughter-in-law, 2 grandsons and 2 granddaughter. She is buried in Bukit Brown.

Son: Cheong Hock Chye
Cheong Hock Chye started his own auction firm, Cheong Hock Chye and Co, Ltd at 1-A, Raffles Place in 1940. Cheong Hock Chye, J.P passed away at the age of 49 on 27th February 1949. He is survived by his widow, 2 sons (Cheong Thiam Siew, Cheong Thiam Gee and Cheong Thiam Chin), 2 daughters(Cheong Liang Neo, Cheong Tian Neo), 2 daughters-in-law, 1 son-in-law and 1 granddaughter. The cortege left from No 6 Brighton Avenue to Whitley Road Burial Ground.

Daughter: Miss Cheong Keong Poh 
Miss Cheong Keong Poh (eldest daughter of the late Mr. Cheong Koon Seng and Mrs Cheong Koon Seng) got engaged on September 1935 to Mr. Chan Chee Seng (eldest son of  Mr. and Mrs S. J. Chan). 

Daughter: Miss Cheong Keong Tee
Miss Cheong Keong Tee (2nd daughter of the late Mr. Cheong Koon Seng and Mrs Cheong Koon Seng) got engaged on October 1936 to Mr. Ang Kim Sye of the Bankruptcy Office (6th son of  the late Mr. Ang Seah Im and Mrs Ang Seah Im). 

Daughter: Miss Cheong Keong Tuan
Miss Cheong Keong Tuan (3rd daughter of the late Mr. Cheong Koon Seng and Mrs Cheong Koon Seng) got engaged on January 1936 to Mr. Koh Kong Hai (6th son of Mr and Mrs Koh Sek Lim of Geluga Bedoh Estate, Singapore). 


Today there is a house name after Cheong Koon Seng in Anglo-Chinese School and a road called Koon Seng Road in the east of Singapore. It was formerly known as Lorong E East Coast Road before it was renamed in 1934.Finally, the company he founded is still around. It is called CKS Property Consultants Pte Ltd.


Deaths. (1916, May 20 ). The Straits Times
Untitled. (1926, February 6). The Straits Times
Deaths. (1927, April 9). The Straits Times
New Municipal Commissioner entertained. (1931, March 14). Malayan Saturday Post
Anglo Chinese Old Boys Association. (1931, May 2). Malayan Saturday Post
Departure of Mr. Cheong Koon Seng. (1932, April 23). Malayan Saturday Post.
Funeral of Mr Cheong Koon Seng. (1934, March 27). The Straits Times
Death of Mr Cheong Koon Seng. (1934, March 20). The Straits Times
Untitled. (1934, March 27). The Straits Times
Auctioneering Company. (1940, March 30). The Singapore Free Press
Untitled. (1941, March 10). The Straits Times
Deaths. (1964, October 11). The Straits Times

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Quek Koh Chay (Bukit Brown)

Quek Koh Chay was the founder of Messrs. Quek Hong Seng & Co Ltd. In 1955, he was also a director of the Bank of Singapore, Ltd.  In 1952, Quek Koh Chay was mentioned as the single biggest contributor for Singapore Chinese Y.M.C.A fund raising for its new building. He contributed $30,000.

Quek Koh Chay passed away at the age of 78 at his residence in 251, Bukit Timah Road at 10:30 pm, November 3, 1960.

Wife: Madam Wee Chwee Sang 
Madam Wee Chwee Sang passed away at the age of 77 on May 2, 1966, leaving behind 3 sons; Quek Seng Lip, Quek Seng Guan, Quek Seng Kee, 3 daughter-in-laws, 3 daughters, 3 son-in-laws, 47 grandchildren.

Wife: Madam Lau Nam Tee
Madam Lau Nam Tee passed away at the age of 95 on November 25, 2005. By 2005, all the sons and daughters of Mr Quek Koh Chay have passed away with exception of 1 daughter; Quek Gek Kim.

source: NewspaperSG

Madam Lau Nam Tee
(source: NewspaperSG)
The family home of 251 Bukit Timah Road
In my research i found records of Mr Quek Koh Chay purchasing the freehold property of 19,241 sq ft for $23,000 in an auction at the saleroom of Cheong Koon Seng and Co on June 8, 1927.

Tomb of Quek Koh Chay

Exhumed tomb of Mr and Mrs Quek Koh Chay

Guardian lion 

Advertisement. (1927, June 15). The Straits Times
Chinese YMCA keep eye on target. (1952, April 1). The Straits Times
Bank of Singapore to open at end of Match. (1955, March 11). The Singapore Standard
Deaths. (1960, November 5). The Straits Times.
Untitled. (2005, November 24). The Straits Times