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.

11 comments:

thisuselessboy said...

Hypothetically speaking, tombstones may only show 'official' or 'legitimate' children. I'm only raising this point to demonstrate that tombstones cannot be the final word on family/blood lineage.

Philip said...

You are right. But in Chew Joo Chiat's case he had no illegitimate children

Ivan Chew said...

Hey Cousin Philip, very nice post! It was picked up at http://yesterday.sg/lifestyle/tracing-the-family-tree/ and then at the SingaporeHeritage mailing list. Thanks for making effort to maintain a family tree. Don't think any one of us who have overcome our inertia, hah. It's also interesting for me to read how you started to make the connections with the rest of us cousins. I still can't get over the fact we're cousins and with huge age gap. Cheers!

Unk Dicko said...

Just a suggestion: perhaps some of the younger cousins could be inspired to take up deeper research into this intriguing case.It requires time, a little legwork and lots of patience. But the outcome will be worth all the effort.

icae1312 said...

Hi Philip, thank you for this blog. This is actually the first time I have tried locating my own family tree, and I was surprised to find out how extensive my extended family really is. My great-grandfather was Chew Koh Beng, and I was wondering if it's possibly to get in contact with you through email, as I would like to find out more about my family background. Thank you!

• Le • said...

Hey, i am a student currently doing a project about Joo Chiat. Also, i am going to introduction on Chew Joo Chiat in this project. Mind giving a little more info about him? may i know on which date he left the earth?

Philip said...

Allthe info about Chew Joo Chiat can be found in "mychewjoochiat" blog, including the date of his death - 5th February 1926.

Ahmad Zainudin said...

Hi cousin Philip ,

May someday we meet together with all the cousins .
You did a GREAT JOB .

Chew Joo Chiat is my late Great Grandfather.

Thank you
D A Z.
Kuala Lumpur.

Ahmad Zainudin said...

Hai cousin Philip Chew

Looking forward to seeing you ASAP . You have done a great job

Cousin. My late Great grandfather is Chew Joo Chiat.

Bye
D A Z.
KUALA LUMPUR.

Ahmad Zainudin said...

Hai cousin Philip Chew

Looking forward to seeing you ASAP . You have done a great job

Cousin. My late Great grandfather is Chew Joo Chiat.

Bye
D A Z.
KUALA LUMPUR.

Philip Chew 周炳镜 said...

Hi cousin Ahmad

Finally I found you. My book about Chew Joo Chiat will be published next month. Can we meet soon so that I can include you in the book. I can also pass a copy of the family tree to you. BTW can you tell me you father's name?