Monday, March 12, 2012

Searching For My Roots Again

Last year the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) decided to clear Bukit Brown to make way for a highway and future housing development. Just a month before that I was told by a relative that Chew Joo Chiat first wife was buried there. So, it became my mission to find my great grandmother's grave. No relative alive today knows her name as well as her date of death. To search the whole of Bukit Brown Cemetery would be like looking for a pin in a hay stack. I searchd the NEA's registry of death but it was useless without the name and date death of the person. I tried a long shot by contacting the Goh brothers of Asia Paranormal Investigator (API),  Raymond and  Charles. I told them my problem to find my greatmother's grave. I was surprised by their prompt reply with a bonus thrown in, that was a photo of a tombstone.
                                                            Tombstone of Tan Quan Neo

On that Saturday I got my younger brother Hector to go with me to the cemetery. There we met the Goh brothers as arrranged. They drove us to the site. From the paved road we had to walk upslope on the undulating ground plus hopping over many graves to reach the semi jungle area. I tumbled a few times before reaching the area. There most of the  graves were in a bad state. Then Charles pointed out to me Mrs Chew Joo Chiat's grave. The place was dark as the sunlight was blocked by leaves of tall trees. The tombstone was obstructed by thick tree vines dropped from above. I took a few photos and then noticed a side tombstone written in English words. The name of the deceased Tan Quan Neo was clearly written. She died on 19th April 1927, just a year plus after Chew Joo Chiat's death. Then it struck me that Tan Quan Neo is the name of Chew Joo Chiat's second wife. Chew Joo Chiat's grave plot had a double tombs. Tan Quan Neo's tomb was reserved next to his but she was not buried there. Why?
                                  Tan Quan Neo's empty tomb is on the left of the double tomb

Tan Quan Neo married Chew Joo Chiat and had only one child. She is Chew Quee Neo, wife of Lee Tian Seck compradore of Batu Pahat Bank in 1960s. Her grave had been neglected for years. Perhaps she had no male descendants to visit and clean up her tomb during each Qing Ming Festival.

My concern now is to find my great grandmother's grave. Is it true that her body was buried at Bukit Brown Cemetery? I thought she died in China. I may have to make more journeys to Bukit Brown Cemetery to find her resting place. My mission unaccomplished!