Sunday, February 23, 2014

Kho Keng Chuan (Bukit Brown)

Mr. Kho Keng Chuan was born in Malacca and later educated in Raffles Institution. He first worked in Adams, Gilfillan and Co. Ltd. Then he became a salesman in the early 1890's to Mr. Arthur Barker before eventually becoming his partner in Messrs. Barker and Keng Chuan for 23 years.  The office was located in Change Alley. Kho Keng Chuan is also a member of the Straits Chinese British Association.

Kho Keng Chuan and Tan Yew Neo
(photo courtesy of Trent Lai)
Kho Keng Chuan retired in April 1929, due to ill-health. On April 17, 1930 at 1:45 am, he passed away at the age of 60. His tomb lists his 5 sons: Kho Lian Ann (deceased), Kho Lian Cheng (alias Charlie Kho), Kho Lian Guan, Kho Lian Hock, Kho Lian Swee and 6 daughters; Kho Lian Neo, Kho Ann Neo, Kho Joo Neo, Kho Teck Neo, Kho Siam Neo, Kho Bong Neo. Listed are also 2 grandsons, Cary Kho and Jimmy Kho and 1 daughter, Polly Kho.

Tomb of Kho Keng Chuan
Madam Tan Yew Neo (wife of late Kho Keng Chuan and daughter of Tan Kim Teck) passed away at General Hospital at the age of 83 on February 6, 1959. She is survived by 3 sons; Kho Lian Cheng (alias Charlie Kho), Kho Lian Hock, Kho Lian Swee ; 4 daughters, one son-in-law, 3 daughter-in-laws and many grandchildren. The cortege left 21 Sennett Road for Bukit Brown.

source: Lat Pau 1923


Father (Kho Choon Sceng / Kho Choon Seng)
Kho Choon Sceng  passed away at the age of 82 at his residence in No 11 Yan Kit Road on 6th July 1927. He is survived by 1 son, 1 daughter, 4 grandsons and 6 grand daughters and 13 great grand children.

Mother (name unknown)
Kho Keng Chuan's mother passed away at his residence in No 11 Yan Kit Road in March 1917. She is survived by 1 son, 1 daughter, 4 grandsons and 7 grand daughters.

Father-in-law: Song Tiang Kay 
Song Tiang Kay was mentioned in Sir Song's book to be the father-in-law of Kho Keng Chuan. Song Tiang Kay was once a wealthy man who owned a mansion built in Chinese style in North Bridge Road. Song Tiang Kay was the head storekeeper at Gilfillan, Wood & Co for 20 years. He was a shareholder in the firm of Song Soon Guan until the death of Mr. Song Soon Guan in September 18, 1885 when the company eventually failed. Other misfortune lead to his eventual bankruptcy He applied for his bankruptcy to be discharged in 1911. Even his house was sold and it became a pineapple owned by the late Mr. Scaife who was a prominent businessman in preserved pineapples.
source: NewspaperSG

Son:  Kho Lian Cheng alias Charlie Kho
Charlie Kho Lian Cheng passed away at the age of 57 at his residence in 21Sennett Road leaving behind his wife, 3 sons ( Kho Kok Eng, Kho Kok Hian and Kho Kok Yeow ), 1 son-in-law (Tan Keng Yan), 1 daughter, 3 daughter-in-laws, many grandchildren. 

Son: Kho Lian Hock
The engagement was announced on 17th September 1934 between Mr. Kho Lian Hock, (4th son of the late Mr. Kho Keng Chuan and Mrs. Kho Keng Chuan) and Tan Oo Kin Neo /Miss Ong (eldest daughter of Mr. Ong Kim Tiang and the late Mrs. Ong Kim Tiang.

Eldest Daughter: Kho Lean Neo / Kho Lian Neo
Kho Lean Neo married Oon Sim Kong, but due to family quarrels and disagreements, she return home to her father.

Sixth Assizes. (1886, December 20). Straits Times Weekly Issue
Advertisement.(1911, November 18). The Singapore Free Press
Advertisements. (1915, July 6). The Singapore Free Press
Social and Personal. (1917, March 12). The Straits Times
Mr. Kho Keng Chuan. (1930, April 17). The Straits Times
Death. (1959, February 7). The Straits Times
Death. (1961, May 1). The Straits Times
Song, O.S. (1984). One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tan Swee Hoe and family (Batu Pahat)

Sometime back in August 2012, i wrote an article about Tan Swee Hoe who is buried in Bukit Brown. Tan Swee Hoe came to Singapore as a young boy and worked his way up, eventually becoming one of founders of Ho Hong Bank, and later a director of Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC)  after it merged with it. He was also for two terms, the president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Batu Pahat, shareholder of Ho Aik Steamships. Tan Swee Hoe was a member of the Council of State, Johore and received a title S.M.J (Setia Mahkota Johore) from the government of Johore in 1929 for his contributions. He owned several property in Singapore and Batu Pahat.

Tan Swee Hoe
In January 2014, i was fortunate to make a trip with like minded friends to Batu Pahat to visit one of the properties he owned as well as a temple he contributed too and finally the grave of his son.

Tan Swee Hoe's mansion
First on my wishlist was Tan Swee Hoe's mansion on 160 Jalan Kluang, Batu Pahat. The mansion is still own and occupied by Tan Swee Hoe's descendants. So, without their explicit permission, i am unable to enter. I really do hope one day we can get the permission to visit.

160 Jalan Kluang, 83000 Batu Pahat,  Johor
Beautiful Entrance Columns
160 Jalan Kluang, 83000 Batu Pahat,  Johor
Gates leading to the mansion 
A view of the mansion and its grounds
Close to his mansion is a major street, and the name of the Street is Jalan Tan Swee Hoe (1.861872, 102.952064) and a Chinese Temple whose patron was Tan Swee Hoe and its renovation was made possible by one of Tan Suan Khiong's son.
Temple along Jalan Kluang 
Temple granite engraving
Temple plaque
Tan Swee Hoe passed away at the age of 67 year old at 11:00 am on July 29, 1939 at No 759 Grove Road, Singapore and is buried on August 6, 1939 in Bukit Brown, Hill 4, Division C, plot 1684. He is survived by 2 widows ( Madam Lim Lai Hua and Madam Yap Ann Nim), 6 sons (Tan Suan Khiong, Tan Suan Chee, Tan Suan Chew, Tan Suan Chuan, Tan Suan Kok and Tan Suan Poh) and 6 daughters, 4 sons-in-law (Yap Leong Teck, Chiok Eng Khiam, Lim Bock Seng and Phay Chong Whatt), 3 daughters-in-law and 33 grandchildren.

For the name of the sons there are spelling variants as further research indicate the the middle name Suan is also spelled as Swan.

One of his wife, Madam Lim Lai Hu passed away in January 25, 1941 at 10:10 pm at the age of 46 at 759 Grove Road.

Tan Swee Hoe
Son: Tan Suan Khiong
His eldest son, Tan Swan Khian (or Tan Suan Khiong), passed away at the age of 54 on March 27, 1948.
He was the Chairman of Ho Hee Ltd, Batu Pahat;  chairman of Ho Guan Investment, Singapore and a director of Ho Aik Steamships, Singapore. He left behind a widow and 12 children. Tan Swan Khian is buried in a chinese cemetery off Jalan Tanjung Labuh, Batu Pahat.

Tan Suan Khiong ( Tan Swan Khian) sprawling tomb in Batu Pahat

Mr and Mrs Tan Suan Khiong
Mr and Mrs Tan Suan Khiong
Son: Tuan Suan Poh
Tuan Suan Poh was conferred the Dato Paduka Mahkota Johor (D.P.M.J.) in 1976 on the occasion of the 82nd Birthday of the Sultan of Johore. Tuan Suan Poh passed away on July 16, 1985 at the age of 56. Heis survived by his wife, Datin Ng Siew Ling, sons; David Tan Hock Yiam and Richard,Tan Hock Meng and daughters; Penny Tan Chee Peng, Lily Tan Chee Luan. The cortege left from 111, Jalan Kluang.
Tuan Suan Poh, Patron of Che Eng Khor, Batu Pahat

Friday, February 14, 2014

Chua Guan Chui and family (Bukit Brown)

Mr Chua Guan Chui ( Chua Guan Chwee or also spelt as Chua Guan Swee ) from what little information i gathered was a property owner who bought property and rented them out. In a Strait Times article dated 1994, there was mentioned of two bungalows at No. 31 and 33 Scotts Road that in the 1920's belonged to the estate of Chua Guan Chui before it was eventually acquired by the Government in 1981.
Chua Guan Chui


Mr. Chua Guan Chui passed away on January 1,  2603 ( Japanese Koki year for 1943) at the age of 67 at 9:45pm Tokyo Time at his residence at No 152 Cairnhill Road. He is survived by 2 wives,  2 sons, Chua Hock Seng and Master Chua Chye Seng, 7 daughters, 3 son-in-laws ( Wee Thiam Lock, Khoo Tiang Seng and Lim Chong Min ) , 1 daughter-in-law (Mrs Chua Chye Seng nee Lily Tan ) and 12 grandchildren to mourn his loss.

On his tomb, listed are his sons: Chua Hock Seng, Chua Chye Seng, adopted son: Wee Yeow Heng, daughters: Chua Beng Guat, Chua Chit Lee, Chua Guat Neo, Chua Guat Lin, Chua Guat Choo, Chua Guat Eng, Chua Guat Boey.
Chua Guan Chui 

No 75 Cairnhill Road (Darlington House)

The home of Mr. Chua Guan Chui was called Darlington House. The family was evicted by the Japanese military administration from their house and they moved to No 152, Cairnhill Road.

Darlington at No 75 Cairnhill Road circ. 1910. (copyright unknown) 

Family of Chua Guan Chui at No 152 Cairnhill Road
(photo courtesy of Johnny Wee )
The rare photo above gives insights to the family members of Chua Guan Chui's family. In this picture you can see some of the family members posing with Japanese soldiers.


Wife: Tan Hoe Neo
Madam Tan Hoe Neo is the daughter of Mr Tan Keck Geang and Madam Keong Hoon Neo. Madam Tan Hoe Neo passed away on July 14, 1919. Madam Tan Hoe Neo is also the grand daughter of the late Mr. Tan Kim Ching.

Wife: Madam Chee Peck Neo
Further research lead me to a notice of death for Mrs Chuan Guan Chui (nee Madam Chee Peck Neo) who passed away on November 22, 1989 at the age of 90. Listed are her sons, daughters-in-law, daughters and son-in-law providing a gem of information on the Chua Guan Chui family tree as well as names missed out on the tomb (e.g. Chua Choo Long and Chua Chit Nya).
Madam Chee Peck Neo

source: NewspaperSG (November 23, 1989)

Chua Hock Seng (deceased)
Tan Daisy 
Chua Chye Seng 
Chiew Siew Lian, Jenny 
Chua Choo Long (deceased)    
Wee Thiam Lock (deceased)  
Chua Chit Lee (deceased)
Khoo Tian Seng (deceased)
Chua Chit Nya (deceased) 
Lim Chong Meng /
Lim Chong Min (deceased)
Chua Guat Lin, Jessie 
William Millar
Chua Guat Choo, Nancy  
Lim Chuan Seng 
Chua Guat Eng, Winnie
Chua Guat Boey, Rosalind (deceased)  
Cheong Swee Ngo
grandsons, grand-daughters and great grandchildren to mourn her
(Madam Chee Peck Neo) loss. 

Son: Mr. Chua Hock Seng  (Richard Chua Hock Seng )
Mr Chua Hock Seng (eldest son of Mr and Mrs Chua Guan Chui ) was engaged to Miss Wee Siok Gim, daughter of Mr and Mrs Wee Soon Kiat on February 20, 1940. [Whether they were actually married is unknown to me as yet]

Miss Lily Tan, the only daughter of Mr and Mrs Tan Chong Chew married Chua Hock Seng, eldest son of Mr and Mrs Chua Guan Chui on December 1942 . The ceremony and reception was held at the bride's father (Mr Tan Chong Chew) residence at Penang Cot, River Valley. The bridesmaid was Miss Ruby Ong and best man, Mr Ong Choon Bee. The marriage was signed and witness by Capt. Noda,  Director Romu Kamri Kaisha, Mr Hoshino of the Information Bureau, Dr A.C Jap and Mr. Lim Chong Min

Mr Chua Hock Seng (eldest son of Mrs Chua Guan Chui and the late Mr Chua Guan Chui) engaged on December 15, 1946 to Miss Daisy Tan, daughter of Mrs Tan Soo Sim and the late Mr Tan Soo Sim, of Malacca. Miss Daisy Tan is the grand daughter of the late Mr. Tan Jiak Choo, J.P.

Daughter: Chua Choo Long
In August 1922, a large gathering of both Chinese and Europeans gentlemen and ladies at Lorong 19, Geylang and later at the brides home in Cairn Hill Road for the marriage of Mr Wee Thiam Lock of East Asiatic Co. Ltd and Miss Chua Choo Long, the elder daughter of Mr and Mrs Chua Guan Chwee.
Wee Thiam Lock, Chief Clerk , East Asiatic Co. (seated on left) 1952 

Daughter: Chua Chit Lee
Miss Chua Chit Lee married Khoo Tiang Seng. Madam Chua Chit Lee passed away on September 23, 1988 at the age of 85.
Madam Chua Chit Lee
Daughter: Chua Chit Nya
Miss Chua Chit Nya married Mr Lim Chong Min, youngest son of Mr and Mrs Lim Nee Soon in September 19, 1931 at the Garden Club, Tanah Merah. The best man was Mr. Ong Swee Kee and bridesmaid was Miss Lim Soo Geck, sister of the bridegroom.
Lim Chong Min and Miss Chua Chit Nya
(source: NewspaperSG)
Daughter: Chua Guat Boey
Miss Rosalind Chua Guat Boey passed away on July 15, 1989.
Rosalind Chua Guat Boey 
Untitled. (1922, August 12). The Straits Times
Social and Personal. (1931, September 21). The Straits Times
Daughter of Well-known Chinese Weds. (1942, December 28). Syonan Times
Domestic Occurances. (1943, January 2). Syonan Times
Advertisement. (1946, December 16 ). The Straits Times
Deaths. (1989, November 23).The Straits Times
1920's bungalows being restored for use as offices. (1994, September 6). The Straits Times
Chua Guan Chui. [Website] Roots Web. Tan family tree

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Chia Keng Tye and family (Bukit Brown)

Chia Keng Tye is the eldest son of Mr and Mrs Chia Hood Team. He was a Campradore of Merchantile Bank (just like his father before him) and served in the Bank for 34 years starting from 1907. He was also multi-talented and was a musician, violinist, sports man and a professional tennis player.
Mr and Mrs Chia Keng Tye and son Chia Chin Tong
(photo courtesy of Chia Chan Chai)
Chia Keng Tye the Sportsman 
Chia Keng Tye was an avid sportsman and was a professional tennis player and played all the way to the ripe age of 70.
The Sportsman (source: NewspaperSG)
The Sportsman (source: NewspaperSG)

Chia Keng Tye Orchestra and the famous conductor Tay Lian Teck
In the 1920's, Straits Chinese pioneers such as Chia Keng Tye , Tay Lian Teck, Lim Hock San, Tan Hock San and Choo Beng Lim led the way in western classical music. A self-taught musician, Chia Keng Tye formed and financed Chia Keng Tye Orchestra ( CKT Orchestra ) and from humble beginnings of only 4 members and attracted by a desire to play Malay pantuns with his violin, he and his friends played at his house in Killiney road. The group slowly grew and one of it earliest performance was in 1916 in a variety concert by the Straits Chinese British Association in aid of the Red Cross. From then, it played for many causes (e.g. Swatow Relief 1922, Singapore Chinese Girl School Building Fund 1925) all the way to 1928.

His conductor for the orchestra, Tay Lian Teck, J.P, was an excellent violinist and was also the conductor. He went on to be the first Asian to play in an all-Caucasian group, the Singapore Philharmonic Orchestra. He was a director of the Ho Hong Group, Municipal Commissioner, legislative council member and as known as the "father of Chinese football").
Tay Lian Teck
(source: NewspaperSG)
In an interview in 1939, Chia Keng Tye told that he has spent over $12,00 of his own personal money in the period of 30 years to buy music for the orchestra and refreshments during rehearsal.

Mr and Mrs Chia Keng Tye in Bukit Brown
Chia Keng Tye passed away at the age of 77 on June 8, 1961.
Mr and Mrs Chia Keng Tye 
Mr and Mrs Chia Keng Tye's tomb in Bukit Brown
Mrs Chia Keng Tye (nee Lim Tuan Neo) passed away on April 11, 1948 after a long illness and is survived by her husband. 2 sons (Dr Chia Chin Tiong, Chia Chin Siang), 3 daughters (Elsie, Maggie, Daisy).

Funeral of Chia Keng Tye
Funeral of Chia Keng Tye
(photo courtesy of Chia Chan Chai and Noreen Chan

Funeral of Chia Keng Tye
Funeral of Chia Keng Tye
(photo courtesy of Chia Chan Chai and Noreen Chan)

Their graves are at Hill 5 C plot 261 and 262.

Son: Dr Chia Chin Tiong
Dr Chia Chin Tiong passed away on December 16, 1994. He is survived by his wife (Madam Lim Siew Boey), 2 sons and 1 daughter.

Son: Chia Chin Siang 
Mr Chia Chin Siang (second son) married the eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Tan Soon Keng in November 1941. The bridesmaid in the ceremony were 2 daughters of Mr and Mrs Lim Chong Pang.
Mr Chia Chin Siang and Miss Irene Tan 

Daughter: Elsie Chia
Miss Elsie Chia, second daughter of Mr Chia Keng Tye married Mr. Tan Jin Hoe, the only son of Mr. Tan Chong Lek, J.P. , M.C. Comprador of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, Malacca. Mr Tan Jin Hoe was a cashier in the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank and a popular member of the Malacca Literary Club.

Daughter: Maggie Chia
Miss Maggie Chia married to Mr Chua Boon Kim on Dec 31, 1941. She was granted a decree nessi in 1953 on the grounds of desertion and adultery. Miss Maggie Chia Sian Neo passed away at the age of 71, on April 13, 1992. She is survived by her son, Douglas Chua.

A Legacy to Remember
In 1967, Mr Chia Keng Tye's two son's Dr Chia Chin Tiong and Mr. Chia Chin Siang donated 253 items of orchestral music belonging to their father, the late Mr. Chia Keng Tye to the National Library as a legacy for all music lovers to enjoy.

Untitled. (1933, September 11). The Singapore Free Press
Untitled. (1936, July 15). The Straits Times
Untitled. (1936, December 24). The Straits Times
Untitled. (1941, November 16). The Straits Time
Deaths. (1948, April 12). The Straits Times
Four gets decrees nisi. (1953, August 11). The Straits Times
Veteran dies. (1961, June 10). The Straits Times
Music Gift to S'pore by Chia family.(1967, March 8). The Straits Times
Deaths. (1992, April 15). The Straits Times
Desendants of Chia Leong Chuan. [website].Chia family tree

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Old Pictures of Bukit Brown

Ever wondered how Bukit Brown looked backed when it first opened for public burials. Below are a compilation of pictures that i have gathered either from Newspaper archives or from the private collection of the descendants buried in Bukit Brown. If you have any to share, do email me your photos.


1934 (source: NewspaperSG)

Shelter in Bukit Brown in 1920's
(Photo courtesy of Madam Lim Soo Eng and James Yip)

Shelter in Bukit Brown in 1920's
(Photo courtesy of Madam Lim Soo Eng and James Yip)

Shelter in Bukit Brown in 1920's
(Photo courtesy of Madam Lim Soo Eng and James Yip)

Chia Hood Theam's tomb with funeral wreaths in 1938
(photo courtesy of Chia Chan Chai and Noreen Chan)

1940's -1950s

View from roundabout toward direction
of Ho Siak Kuan's tomb 

Guard of honor funeral for Mr Wong Chin Yoke 

Shelter in the 1960's
(Photo courtesy of Madam Lim Soo Eng and James Yip)

Bukit Brown temple from the show Ring of Fury 1973 (source: Asian Film Archives )

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

German Girl Shrine ( Ubin Island )

Entrance of German Girl Shrine
Ubin is a great place for nature lovers, but beyond that, there are many heritage areas sites in Ubin that is worth paying a visit. One of this site is the German Girl Shrine.

The story of this shrine which has become folklore, began during the World War I period (1914-1918). The German girl was said to be a daughter of German coffee plantation owner who lived near the current shrine. Researchers found via reference to past land deed, and two names, Daniel Brandt and Hermann Mulingans were listed. But further investigation to find out who the parents of the German Girl were drew blank.

On that faithful day, British soldiers came in to take away the German family for internment, but the girl was able to somehow escaped. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when she slipped and fell into a quarry and died. Her body was recovered by Boyanese and covered with sand. Later on, Chinese workers retrieved her body and gave her a proper burial.  In 1974, the grave was exhumed to make way for quarry excavation works and it was relocated to its present location. According to a local Ubin resident, Chye Leng Keng (74 years of age in 2003) interviewed by a Straits Times reporter, he was an eye witness during the exhumation where he said he saw a rusty cross and a few strands of hair found.

Chye Leng Keng, Ubin local resident
(source: NewspaperSG) 
The remains were transferred to an expensive urn, bought by the quarry company, Aik Hwa and placed at the altar of the shrine. Mr Chye in the interview claimed however the current urn is not the original expensive urn as sometime ago, it was stolen and a replacement urn made. The shrine is popular with devotees seeking spiritual intervention or even "lucky numbers" for betting.

On the altar of the table you can see an assortment of items, such as soft toys, make up cosmetics, play dolls, perfume, etc. What is also interesting is a Catholic rosary cross on the altar of a Taoist shrine. To a lay person it may seem strange, but when local folklore mixes with local guardian spirits- the humble girl becomes elevated to a sort of divine being, a "Nadu -Guniang " or Datuk Miss or female version of a Na Tu Kong  (拿督公)  and now is represented by a......Barbie doll in a glass enclosed panel.

The day i visited, there was a Ubin resident (who drove there in his van) making offering prayers and lighting the joss sticks and burning gum Benjamin (kemenyan). If you visiting, do make a small donation even if you do not believe it in, but as a small token for the upkeep of this unique shrine that represents a unique history of Ubin Island.

Altar table within the shrine 

Soft toys,  make up kit adorn the altar table

Close up of the German Girl (you can also make
out the rosary cross on the altar table)

Florida Water (essentially a cologne) 

Directions on how to get there 
From the jetty, follow the blue trail that i indicated on the map below that i have highlighted should give you a good guide on how to walk or cycle there.

source: NParks (amended to include trail) 
For those not good with maps, the starting point is from the jetty archway, then turn left. You should be walking through the main town. Go pass it. You should see a quarry (Pekan Quarry) on your right. Your first decision point on where to turn should be also a signboard with a map as well as a distance indicator signage.

You should turn left to Jalan Jelutong. Keep following this road for 3 km and you will be on right path to the shrine. Some landmarks, you will be passing through 2 bridges (Sungai jelutong and Sungai puaka) that overlooks beautiful mangrove swamps before seeing the only signboard that provides the direction to the German Girl Shrine.
look for this direction sign 
Walk for another 600-700 meters and keep a look out for a yellow building on your left and that should be the shrine.It all fails, hire the van taxi. The locals know this place very well.

The German Girl Shrine 

Mystery girl of Ubin. (2003, March 9). The Straits Times