Sunday, March 15, 2020

Bertram Yong Shee Jen (Choa Chu Kang Christian Cemetery)

I came across this obelisk shape tomb while exploring the Christian section of the Chao Chu Kang Cemetery. It carried the following words:

In ever loving and proud memory of a very dear and fine son
(Singapore Air Defence Command)
who died in the course of duty
6th January 1951
8th November 1971

On the back, engraved are the names of his family:

2LT. Bertram Yong Shee Jen, fourth son of Dr. & Mrs. Yong Kon Vui, brother of Victor Yong Shee Hueng, Leslie Yong Shee Keong, Yong Shee Bok and Jeanette Yong

Second-Lieutnant Bertram Yong of Singapore Air Defence Command was 20 years old when his Hunter jet crashed into a hill in Central Wales during a training flight. His British instructor also died in the mishap. A student of Anglo-Chinese School, Barker Road, he excelled in the sports ( a national champion sprinter) and also became the first Singapore Air Defence Cadet to receive the best trainee award. The body of Singapore Air Defence Command pilot, Second Lt. Betram Yong was flown home on board BOAC VC-10 on 16 November 1971. Members of his family and Defence Ministry officials including the Air Command Chief, Col. Ee Tean Chye, were present at Paya Lebar airport. Second Lt. Bertram was buried with full military honours at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery on the evening of 17th after church service at St. Andrew's Cathedral.Upon reaching the cemetery, the coffin was draped with the Singapore flag and place on a gun carriage and drawn to the graveside by officers and men of the Singapore Air Defence Command. His father, Dr. Yong Kon Vui, mother, 3 brothers and a sister and large gathering of close family friends in addition to Royal Air Force representative and officers and men from the Singapore Armed Forces were at the funeral.
Bertram Yong Shee Jen 

Tomb of 2Lt Betram Yong Shee Jen 


Father: Dr. Yong Kon Vui 
Mr. Yong Kon Vui married Miss Maureen Kong Shui Yun (daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kong Yau Onn of Kuching, Sarawak) on 16 August 1941 at St. Andrew's Cathedral. It was a double wedding because his sister, Miss Elizabeth Yong Su Moi married Mr. J. Choy Kum Heng (son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Choy Dominic formerly of Hong Kong. Their mother, Mrs. Yong acted as matron of honour for both couples and Mr. Yong Thau Yin gave his daughter away.
In college Yong Kon Vui was an able sportsman distinguishing himself as an athletic during the Medical College Sports meets. Dr. Yong Kon Vui passed away on 22 February 2008 at the age of 94.

Dr. Yong Kon Vui  a sportsman during his Medical College Days)
(source: NewspaperSG)

Obituary notice of Dr. Yong Kon Vui (source: NewspaperSg) 

Brother: Dr. Victor Yong Shee Hueng
Victor married Tan Wee Choo (daughter of Dato. Dr. Tan Miang How).

Brother: Dr. Leslie Yong Shee Keong
Dr. Leslie Yong Shee Keong (second son of Dr and Mrs Yong Kon Vui) married Miss Olivia Lim (only daughter of Mr and Mrs. Lim Hwie Seng) in April 1967 at St. Andrew's Cathedral. Dr. Leslie  at that point of time was an Assistant Lecturer with the dental faculty of the University of Singapore.
Dr. Leslie Yong and Madam Olivia Lim  

Grandmother: Madam Lo Su Oi nee Mrs. Yong Thau Yin
Madam Lo Su Oi passed away at the age of 89 on 14 May 1990. From the obituary notice, you can see the names of her son and 5 daughters.

[research on-going]

Spore pilot dies in Britain. (1971, November 11). The Straits Times, page 1
Body of pilot who died in crash flown home. (1971, November 16). The Straits Times, page 11
Crash pilot buried with full military honours. (1971, November 17). The Straits Times, page 19
Untitled. (1939, July 24). The Singapore Free Press, page 12
Cathedral Double Wedding. (1941, August 17). The Straits Times, page 9
Cathedral Wedding for Doctor. (1967, April 24). The Straits Times, page 4
Death. 1990,May 15). The Straits Times, page 34

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Lee Siew Jin and family (Bukit Brown)

In March 29, 1910, the court ordered Lee Siew Jin, Ho Yan Peng, Tan Cheng Tee and a nyonya by the name Lim Jim Siew Neo to closed their wells at their residences in Telok Ayer. They initially did not comply with the initial court order to close the well and to ensure water was not used for drinking purposes.

Mr Lee Siew Jin passed away at  December 23, 1939 at the age of 72 in his residence at 234 Teluk Ayer Street. He is survived by his sons: Lee Eng Chuan, Lee Eng Liang, Lee Eng Bin, Lee Eng Chiat, Lee Eng Chong, Lee Eng Joo, 4 daughters, 1 daughter-in-law and several grandchildren to morn his loss. Mrs Lee Siew Jin nee Chee Suan Kee passed away on October 23, 1939 at the age of 50.
Lee Siew Jin 
Mrs Lee Siew Jin nee Chee Suan Kee

Lee Siew Jin (Tiang Ho Kok Association 1933) 
When both Mr and Mrs Lee Siew Jin passed away in the same year, a month separating their deaths, wreaths were sent by Tiang Ho Kok Association and Yew Chee Sia Associations
Son: Lee Eng Liang (second son)
Lee Eng Liang engaged to Miss Ong Eng Neo, second daughter of Dr and Mrs Ong Siow Hian.

Well closing. (1910, March 29 ). The Straits Times
Acknowledgements. (1939, November 2). The Straits Times
Death. (1939, December 30). The Straits Times
Advertisement. (1941, September 30). The Straits Times

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Soh Boon Hup and family (Bukit Brown)

Soh Boon Hup was a stevedore and proprietor of Son Boon Hup and Co. with office at Raffles Chamber. He owned many "tongkangs" or "twakows". This boats were used primarily to transport cargo between ships in the outer harbour and godowns along the Singapore river. He started Soh Boon Hup and Co. , a tongkangs and twakows business 20 years ago with a capital of $20,000 being his own savings since the time he worked for his father about 30 years ago. Soh Boon Hup was an avid football player who played with White Star in 1912-1918 and continued play for senior charity matches, and there was records of Soh Boon Hup playing soccer up to 1932. Soh Boon Hup passed away on 14th February 1939 at the age of  51.
Madam Poh Lye Neo and Mr. Soh Boon Hup 

Soh Boon Hup's company

Tongkangs and Twakows at Boat Quay along Singapore River in the 1930s
The decline of Soh Boon Hup Co.
The business was a little profitable at first but started to decline since 1927 onwards. Soh Boon Hup signed promissory notes to the amount of $24,000 to tide his business decline. He eventually lost it all. In 1930, Soh Boon Hup had a fleet of 15 tongkangs which he employed 5 coolies for each tongkang. Upkeep of each tongkang (exclusive of repairs ) was $40 a month. Office and wages amounted to about $300 a month and rent was about $30 a month. He tried to source for funds from a partnership in a business he made 15 years ago in which he invested $3000 capital in it. He tried selling his share of the capital, but received nothing. In bankruptcy court proceedings in 1931, i found out that Soh Boon Hup has 2 wives, 8 sons and 8 daughters, but in another court article, it mentions that he has 2 wives, 6 sons and daughters. Soh Boon Hup was granted his discharge in 1935.

On his tomb are the names of his children and grandchildren. Sons: Soh Koon Yam, Soh Kim ? , Soh Kim Yean, Soh Kim Koan, Soh Kim Toh, Soh Kim Kee, Soh Kim Than,
Daughters; Soh Ah Eng, Soh Ah Geok, Soh Ah Nee, Soh Ah Sah, Soh Ah Lian, Soh Kay Kia, Soh Ah Kia,
Grandsons; Soh Cheong Bong, Soh Cheong Leng, Soh Cheong Foo,
Grand-daughters, Soh Cheong Siew

Wife: Madam Poh Lye Neo
Mrs. Soh Boon Hup nee Poh Lye Neo passed away on 3rd February 1959 at 18 Wallich Street leaving behind several children and grandchildren. The article went on to mentioned that funeral will take place on 5th February 1959 for Bukit Brown. This is confirmed by a burial registrar record of her burial.

Daughter: Miss Soh Ah Eng
Miss Soh Ah Eng (eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Soh Boon Hup) engaged Mr. Lauw Hong Peng (youngest son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Lauw Konh Phiauw of Semarang).

Location of tomb
The tomb of Mr Soh Boon Hup and Madam Poh Lye Neo /Poh Lai Neo is in Bukit Brown, Hill 4, Section C, plot 1554.
Soh Boon Hup and Madam Poh Lye Neo

[research on-going]

Halaman 2 Iklan Ruangan 1. (1924, February 29). Kabar Slalu, page 2
Advertisement. (1928, November 15). The Straits Times, page 7
Bankruptcy Court. (1931, May 21). The Straits Times, page 12
Soccer "has-beens" to return. (1932, June 10). The Straits Times, page 13
Deaths. (1959, February 4). The Straits Times, page 8 
Bumboats berthed at Boat Quay along Singapore River. National Archives Online

Friday, March 06, 2020

Teo Beng Lee and family (Toa Payoh Cemtery)

I first saw Teo Beng Lee's tomb in May 2014 while exploring the jungle parts of Lao Sua on the way to Toa Payoh Cemetery together with Raymond Goh. It was a tiring hike and didn't think much of it until i was going through my photo album again 6 years later. So this is one of those long, long, long overdue post of  Teo Beng Lee and family. Hopefully, one day i am able to retrace the steps and find this tomb again. Teo Beng Lee passed away on 15 July 1926 at the age of 58. The residence was at No 56-3 Neil Road but when he was seriously ill, he was brought to No. 58 Chetty Road off Jalan Pesar, Singapore. He is survived by 3 sons; Teo Seong Moh (of Perry & Co), Teo Seong Keng (of Muncipality) and Teo Jee Leong (of Straits Steamship Co), 3 daughters, 1 son-in-law, Mr. Lim Bah Chik (Chinchew of S.S. Kamuning), 2 daughter-in-law, several grandchildren, and uncle of Mr. Lim Kee Cheok, J.P, M.C. He is stated to be buried at Toa Payoh Cemetery (near to Bukit Brown).

Headstone of Teo Beng Lee 


Father-in-law: Kow Eng Seng
Kow Eng Seng passed away at the age of 82 on 25th May 1922 at his residence, No 74 Cantonment Road. He leaves behind a widow, 2 sons, Kow Kim Leong, Kow Kim Jan, a daughter, Kow Chee Neo and son-in-law, Teo Beng Lee, 4 grandsons, 8 granddaughters, 7 great grandsons and 4 great grand daughters to mourn his loss. The funeral will take place at the Bukit Brown Cemetery, Bukit Timah.

Son: Teo Jee Leong
Teo Jee Leong, the youngest son of the late Mr. & Mrs Teo Beng Lee, 44 Blair Road married Miss Tay Imm Neo, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs Tay Kim Yan of "Mossdale" Lorong C, East Coar. The wedding took place on 11th January 1930.
Wedding of Mr and Mrs Teo Jee Leng (accompanied by members of the Forget-Me-Not-Party)

[research on-going]

Domestic Occurrence. (1922, May 25). Malaya Tribune, page 6
Domestic Occurrence. (1922, July 15). Malaya Tribune, page 5
Untitled. (1930, March 8). Malayan Saturday, page 28

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Oh Hoon Khway (Kopi Sua and Bukit Brown)

There is a large tomb in Kopi Sua /Whitley Road Cemetery that Raymond Goh showed me many years ago. There is no mention of name on that tomb but only oral accounts by tombkeeper there that the tomb belongs to a son of a banker. The theory at that time was that it was the tomb of Oh Hoon Kway/Oh Hoon Khway and one of theories of how that tomb and the tomb of Oh Sian Guan could be possibly linked is via the couplets as shared by Raymond which are similar:

Oh Sian Guan's tomb couplets - 
His writings are outstanding,
His garden materials (legacy) help to spur his followers/descendants to flourish

Kopi Sua big tomb -
His essays are akin to those of top scholars
His gardening skills (expertise) help to spread an industry

Oh Hoon Kway tomb in Kopi Sua 

Censer / Incense holder with characters: 胡偉吾
Close up of  Oh Hoon Kway tomb in Kopi Sua 
Fast forward, 2020 a recent visit to the tomb, we saw the censer or incense holder with the characters of the owner of the tomb written on it. What surprised me was in our previous visits, we didn't see this censer before, but somehow it appeared today. How mysterious ! As i couldn't read chinese, my fellow tomb explores help me translate it has: 胡偉吾. With this little piece of information, i went back to Raymond Goh for his help and opinion and within the day itself he came back with the confirmation as well as another added surprise, he found via the poems written by Oh Hoon Kway his other name, 胡訓魁 (which contains the generational name character) and another important surprise, Oh Hoon Kway has another tomb in Bukit Brown itself ! (see Raymond's blog post ) The Bukit Brown burial registrar has provided the plot number, Block 3 Section A, plot 364. The picture of the tomb he shared on his blog surprised me as it is a beautiful large tomb i usually pass by and wondered for the longest time who it was !
Oh Hoon Kway's tomb in Bukit Brown identified !
Close-up of  tomb ( children names listed here)

Oh Hoon Kway's entry on Bukit Brown burial registrar (22 April 1931) age 35 

Oh Hoon Khway 
The year 1931 matches with what little we already know about Oh Hoon Kway. There was an engagement notice in June 27, 1930 between Miss Lim Gek Neo (youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs. Lim Siew Liat) to Mr. Oh Hoon Khway (son of Mr. and Mrs. Oh Sian Guan). The marriage was to take place at No 51 Veerasamy Road on July 15, 1930.  However, when Oh Sian Guan passed away in 1943, there was no mention of Oh Hoon Khway. Reading the blog Singapore Revisited, i found out that Oh Hoon Khway passed away in 1931 (a year after his engagement /marriage).
Oh Hoon Kway (photo courtesy of Jack Lee Tsen-Ta)
So the name of the 4 children that is listed in the tomb of Oh Hoon Kway could be from first marriage. (This is the theory for now). On why the Kopi Sua tomb was built, it is because his father, Oh Sian Guan felt that tomb in Bukit Brown was too small and decided to move his eldest son's remains to the one in Kopi Sua.

Father: Oh Sian Guan 
Oh Sian Guan / 胡善甫 (1874 - 1943) was a Banker, whose ancestral place was Fujian, Tong Ann. He came to Singapore in 1907 and set up Chop Chin Keat with Tan Tiong Sin at Telok Ayer No 52, importing from Sarawak and Batavia various produce such as betel nut, coffee, pepper and birdnest. He later ventured into property. When Tan Tiong Sin joined the banking industry, Oh Sian Guan managed Chop Chin Keat alone. Oh Sian Guan later sent two of his sons to Batavia to manage the business. In 1919, when Overseas Chinese Bank was formed, Oh Sian Guan became a Director under the recommendation of Tan Ean Kiam. In December 1932, when Chinese Commercial Bank, Ho Hong Bank and Overseas Chinese Bank merged to form Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), he remained a Director until the Japanese invasion in 1942. In December 1932, when Chinese Commercial Bank, Ho Hong Bank and Overseas Chinese Bank merged to form Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), he remained a Director until the Japanese invasion in 1942. He was also once the Chairman of Goh Loo Club.

Oh Sian Guan (picture courtesy of Jack Lee Tsen-Ta)

Watch the video of the tomb been featured at Channel 8 show called Frontline in 2012 featuring Raymond Goh. If you notice, the censer was actually present at that time. So no mystery ! it just got moved.

Monday, March 02, 2020

Teo Guan Tye (Kopi Sua Cemetery)

Teo Guan Tye was mentioned in an article written by Tan Kah Kee for the Straits Times in 1932 about Malayan Chinese inventors and industrialist. In that article, the late Teo Guan Tye of Singapore was described as the first Chinese to go to London (about 21 years ago or around 1911) to patent his inventions and was successful in obtaining a number of Letter of Patents. His first invention was for "improvements in or relating to the extraction of gum copal from waste gum copal". He was also successful in obtaining a number of Letters of Patent for this invention in Great Britain, France, Germany, United States, Japan, Straits Settlements and other important countries. On 27 December 1912. Teo Guan Tye succeeded in getting 2 more patents. While he was London, he registered his designs in a book which contains several thousands of design drawn by him which he named "Cross-in-turn". The preface of his book suggest that this designs can be used for decorative purposes, such as tiles, mats, etc. Upon Teo Guan Tye's return to Singapore in 1916,  he came up with an patented invention for "improvements in or relating to the extraction of Para Rubber Crepe from Bark Crepe". He was granted exclusive privileges. In 1887, Teo Guan Tye carried on the business of fruit preserver, spirit manufacturer, etc at No 99 Telok Ayer Street under the chop Thye Seng Bee & Co. He sent to the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, held in London, preserved pineapple, guava and plantain jellies, and many other kinds of sweets made of fruits, ornamental articles made of ivory and wood and was awarded a medal in bronze for some of the exhibits and also a certificate in commendation of the excellent quality of his sauce.

Teo Guan Tye passed away on 27th November 1919. The tomb itself is interesting as it as English words which state;  "In loving memory of the repose of Teo Guan Tye who died on 27th November 1911 corresponding the 6th day of the 10th Chinese Moon of the Bin Kok 9th Year.
Tomb of Teo Guan Tye in Whitley Road Cemetery (Kopi Sua)

Teo Guan Tye 

The children of Teo Guan Tye

Decorative Tiles on this tomb 


Father: Teo Kit
Teo Kit (died September 1872) came down from China and and established the firm, Teo Kit & Co
chop Tiang Guan in Market Street acting as commission agents and dealing in earthenware goods. Teo Kit was also a partner in the Opium and Spirit Farm during the period when Cheang Hong Lim, Tan Seng Poh and Tan Yeok Nee were the Farmers. Teo Kit also owned a fishing-stake at Tanjong Pagar. From the commission agent business, he became a shipowner (acquiring tongkangs and schooners) and merchant (bring in produce from Semarang, Surabaya and other Java ports and Chinese wares from China). Teo Kit married a sister of Tay Ho Swee. Teo Kit died on September 1872 and is buried at Bukit Timah (maybe Lao Sua ?). Teo Guan Tye was the eldest of his 4 sons continued his business for some years but had to wind it up owing to litigation with his brothers, who sued him as executor of the father's will.

Mrs. Teo Guan Tye
Mrs Teo Guan Tye passed away on 3rd May 1931 at the age of 67 at her residence at No. 6 Lorong 12 Geylang. She is survived by 4 sons; Teo Ewe Teong, Teo Leng Teong, Teo Cheng Teong, Teo Koeng Teong, 3 daughters, 2 sons-in-law,  2 daughters-in-law, 11 grandchildren. She is buried in Bukit Brown.

Advertisement. (1872, March 30). The Straits Times, page 3
Domestic Occurrences. (1931, May 6). Malayan Tribune, page 8
Chinese Topics in Malaya. (1932, January 7). The Straits Times, page 6