Sunday, April 14, 2019

Japanese converted into Chinese (Bukit Brown)

Masiyah/ Masuiah / Ma Si Ye / 马士野 was born around 1853, and married into a Chinese family with the surname Tan. This information is from the burial entry and from her tomb. She passed away at the age of 81 on 22 May 1934, making her possibly has one of the early Japanese immigrants or settlers in Singapore. Her tomb can be found in Hill 2 Section C plot 125. Another interesting point to note, in the burial records, it was written that Masiyah was a Japanese who converted into Chinese. (we know that is not possible, but nevertheless, very interesting indeed that it was described as so).

Extracted from the burial registrar (Japanese converted into Chinese)

Tomb of Masuiah / Ma Si Ya / 马士野

Tomb of Masuiah / Masiyah (taken in 2013) 

Can you spot the mistake? 
Decorative tiles

Other tombs in Bukit Brown who are non-Chinese include; Yamada Ofuni, Wiesje De Haay, Nek Mina.

The tomb shoulders are decorated with Japanese imported tiles, while there is a unique 4 piece tile, with one of the tile wrongly placed. If anyone has more details do share ! From research done by Khoo Ee Hoon, another interesting nugget gathered was the residence listed in the burial registrar was 299 River Valley Road, the same address as Cheong Koon Seng.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Ang Jin Siew (Bukit Brown)

The Teochew tomb of Ang Jin Siew (1881- 26 May 1931) can be seen in Hill 3 and is still regularly visited during Qing Ming by his descendants. From oral accounts, Ang Jin Siew was a rice merchant who regularly made purchases of rice from Thailand. Ang Jin Siew was also a member of the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan. From what i can find, Ang Jin Siew was a successful businessman with several property purchases made such as the purchase of  a 99 year leasehold land and houses No 79-1, 81, 83 and 85 at New Market road area for $25,000. What is also unique about this Teochew tomb is that Ang Jin Siew have 5 wives and many children.
Sons: Ang Hiang Meng, Ang Hiang Chieo, Ang Hiang Choon, Ang Hiang Ser, Ang Hiang Tee, Ang Hiang Hoe, Ang Hiang Hock, Ang Hiang Khiam, Ang Hiang Say, Ang Hiang Leng,
Daughters: Ang Kha Lan, Ang Meow Lan, Ang Kwee Lan, Ang Lan Eng, Ang Lan Koon

Ang Jin Siew's tomb 

Ang Jin Siew and his sons and daughters 

War scarred tomb. 

The epitaph of the tomb of Ang Jin Siew highlights the fact the marble stone was remade and reinstated post war during Qing Ming 1950 because it was damaged during the battle that took place in Bukit Brown just before the fall of Singapore.
Reinstated Epitaph in 1950

Auction Sale of the Estate of Ang Jin Siew (source: NewspaperSG)
Descendants of Ang Jin Siew (09-April-2017) 

Descendants of Ang Jin Siew (31 March 2019). The brothers and sister and 1 sister-in-law
are back for Qing Ming. Missing this year is their mother (in the picture above).
She passed away in 2018


Property Sale. (1926, January 21). Malayan Tribune, page 10
Advertisement. (1933, January 4). Malayan Tribune, page 1

Friday, April 05, 2019

Chia Eng Siang (Bukit Brown)

Mr. Chia Eng Siang was a teacher of Serangoon English School. He died suddenly at General Hospital on 31st December 1939. The cortege left his residence, No 736-G Lim Ah Pin Road.  I know very little about Mr. Chia Eng Siang, however there was a mention of a Mr. Chia Eng Siang who was with the Horlicks Badminton Party during that period of time. In the burial registrar, Chia Eng Siang  was listed as of Khek dialect and he passed away at the age of  31. He is buried in Block 4 Section C, plot 1843.
Chia Eng Siang (School Teacher)

Serangoon English School 

Serangoon English School was established in 1928, housed in a two-storey building in Simon Road. It was a co-educational primary school with only seven classes, supported by a staff made of a head-mistress (Mrs. D. Dawne) and seven teachers. It was also a feeder school to Raffles Institution and Raffles Girls' School. In 1937, three standards were added and with this, the school provided education up to Secondary Three in present-day terms. The boys and girls who successfully completed Standard Eight then went on to Raffles Institution and Raffles Girls’ School respectively. During the Japanese Occupation from 1942-1945 it was a school for Japanese language teachers. Post war the school became a full school with primary ans secondary sections. 1957 saw the last of the primary classes and the School became a secondary school. Serangoon English school shifted to Lowland Road in 1967 and also changed its name to Serangoon Secondary School.

Serangoon English School at Simon Road (source: BookSG) 

Miss M.D. Gibbs and Miss Hatley (Headmistress of Serangoon English School during
time when Chia Eng Siang was a teacher there)

Principal of Serangoon English School (source: BookSG) 

[research on-going]

Domestic Occurence. (1940, January 2). Malayan Tribune, page 13
Serangoon Secondary School 50th anniversary, 1928-1978. Serangoon Secondary School, 1978. Access online from BookSG.
School History. Serangoon Secondary School Website.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Children buried together in the Pauper Section (Bukit Brown)

The moss gathered damaged marble tomb of Miss Thng Mooi Mooi who passed away at the age of 6 on 6th October 1937 at Block 3 Division 3, plot 127A reveals little of who she was in her brief moment of existence. If you go down to the National Archives to look at the microfilm, it will reveal two more additional information; her last known address and the cause of death and if you are lucky, you might be able to match that address to possible known residents during that period of time. The significance of the tomb of Miss Thng Ah Mooi (her name in the burial registrar), a 6 year old Hokkien girl to me was that it has help provided material and concrete evidence of clusters of plots which are often unmarked, that are reserved for children who died young or for babies born stillbirth in the Pauper Sections of Bukit Brown.

Thng Mooi Mooi / Thng Ah Mooi 

My attempt to find some this children plots in the pauper section started when going through the online burial registrar in the 1930's, i noticed patterns of young children who died of various ages, even in hours and days of death being documented as buried in Block 3 Division 1, Division 2, Division 3, etc. Armed with this information and some referenced plots ( 441A, B, C 442 A,B,C of the pauper section in Block 3 Division 1 ), I started combing in that area in search of evidence of this tombs.  My search ended in vain, so i thought until heaven send me a helping hand in the form of knowledgeable tomb keeper Queenie Quek who despite been busy during Qing Ming helped me in my quest. Although we couldn't find those two plots, she gave me 2 valuable hints. The first one was she remembered reserved plots in the area below (nearer to the stream) where there are no tombs and the second hint, she remembered seeing a marble tomb of a child in a nearby division from where we were. Thanking her i went on my way to try to explore further. After some misses, i stumbled upon the tomb exactly described by her ! Although only the tomb of Miss Thng Mooi Mooi was the only one visible (plot 127A) in this area, the burial registrar reveals a different story. In the same area and neighbouring area are bodies of many children, 4 to each plot, subdivided further to A, B, C. In the plot where Miss Thng Mooi Mooi, lies also 3 other infants who died at various ages, including the child of Kwok Loy Yong,  a male child of Keh dialect who died 7 hours after birth. Their plots are unmarked.

Many children remain "missing" in unmarked plots, but hopefully there will not be totally forgotten if Bukit Brown Cemetery is one day destroyed for public housing.

Thng Ah Mooi and her companions in plot 127

Block 3 Division 3, plots 125 to 127 (all children)

Read also 

Gravestones of the young (Bukit Brown). Rojak Librarian, posted on 1 May 2017.
They died young (Bukit Brown). Rojak Librarian, posted on 1 March 2012