Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tracing Chew Joo Chiat Family Tree

It is difficult to build a large family tree where there are many extended families. I know of many relatives when young but have lost contact with them over the years. It is easy to start a family tree beginning with your own family members. I know all their particulars and have all their photos too.

Bonding of cousins                                             

Meeting of the cousins
Re-establishing contact with lost relatives was not easy. It was nearly 50 years ago that I last saw my 3 uncles and an aunt. In 2008 I discovered their whereabout on a sad occasion. My youngest uncle died and I saw his obituary in the newspapers. I attended his wake. My 2 older uncles recognised me and we had a chat. My surprise was to find so many young cousins whom I had never meet. They were about my children's age. In fact, we did not know that each other existed until that day. Fortunately they were keen on Chew Joo Chiat's family tree. Our grandpa died before they were born. So, they depended on me for feedback on family history.  We met thrice at different restuarants for get together and bonding.


Chew Joo Chiat's tombstone

I had a hazy idea concerning the number of Chew Joo Chiat's children. An uncle from his maternal side recorded in National Archives oral history said that Chew Joo Chiat had 6 sons and 4 daughters. It was later published in the book 'Joo Chiat a living legacy'. My grandma when she was alive gave me a different figure. In 2009 I visited Chew's grave for the first time. I found from his tombstone he had only 2 sons and 3 daughters. Their names were also inscribed on it. So, tombstone is another avenue to trace and verify family members.

Blogging also helps to find lost relatives. A number of people with Chew surname who read my blog asked me whether we were related. From them I discovered relatives in Australia, Ireland and Malaysia besides US, UK and Singapore. I also found out that one of my grand aunt married the late Tan Siew Sin, former Finance Minister of Malaysia.

Family history could also be traced from newspapers, books, journals etc. My research was done at Lee Kong Chiang Reference Library.