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Visit to grave of Chia Hood Theam with Brownies and Noreen

Noreen and I were invited today for a special tour of Bt Brown which included a presentation by Noreen at Chia Hood Theam’s grave site. She gave an excellent talk about the Chia family and passed around for viewing, old family photos to the group that was present (about 40 showed up).

This is an updated photo of CHT’s grave that I took earlier, before the meeting started this morning. Noticed that the grave of CHT’s brother Chia Hood Sang can be seen in the background, peeking out just behind CHT’s gravestone.

CHT's gravestone

CHT’s gravestone

Exhumations on 21st Feb 2014

On Friday the 21st of February, three graves of Chia family members were exhumed at Bt Brown. The first grave was of Mdm Tan (Chen Jian Rou) who died in 1863. She was the great-grand mother of paternal great-grand father Chia Hood Theam.

The grave digger started to unearth the tomb

The grave digger started to unearth the tomb


After about an hour of digging, the remains which were contained in an earthern jar which was buried only 3 ft deep, were transferred into the red container at the left of this photo


The remains were then washed in wine before being transferred to a plastic box for transporting to the crematorium

The next grave to be exhumed belonged to E Tean Choon who died in April of 1938 and whose tomb was located at Blk4, Div C. He was the husband of Chia Buay Neo, daughter of my paternal grand-uncle Chia Keng Chin.

When the wooden coffin was unearthed, only a few very small bone fragments, an intact molar, a gold tooth and some metal fittings from the coffin were found.

E Tean Choon’s photo taken from his grave stone

The grave digger starting to unearth the tomb

The grave digger starting to unearth the tomb of E Tean Choon

Finally the graves of my grand father’s sister, Chia Siew Lay and her husband Ong Siow Sian were unearthed. This grave was located not far from where my paternal grand father Chia Keng Tye is still buried at Blk 5. Chia Siew Lay died in March 1941, and her husband died in 1964.


Only Mr Ong’s photo was still visible on the grave stone, while Mdm Chia’s photo was completely faded.

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I was witness to these 3 exhumations, and subsequent collection of the ashes on the same day at the crematorium, and later installation of the urns at the Choa Chu Kang columbarium.

Chia Hood Teck

Chia Hood Teck was the brother of my paternal great-grand father Chia Hood Theam. The grave of Hood Teck was recently discovered by Raymond Goh and Khoo Ee Hoon on the way to the temple at Lao Sua.

grave of Chia Hood Teck 21 Jul 1872 - 3 Nov 1918

grave of Chia Hood Teck
21 Jul 1872 – 3 Nov 1918

Detail of grave stone inscription

Detail of grave stone inscription

Mdm Tan (d.1863) buried at Bt Brown

Six generations of Chia family ancestors buried at Bt Brown! This was my gr-gr-gr-gr-grand mother, since she was the gr-grand mother of my paternal gr-grand father Chia Hood Theam, who is still buried at Bt Brown, but for how long more?

photo taken by Beng Tang

photo taken by Beng Tang

A lonely tomb, soon to be exhumed. A forgotten ancestor, newly discovered but only for a fleeting moment as it is marked to be bull-dozed to make way for a road.

GPS location of this grave is 1.337630N, 103.823921E.

From the burial register, the full name of Mdm Tan is  陳 檢 柔 or in pinyin “chen jian rou”.

When converted to Hokien pronunciaton, this name could be either

Tan Giam Loh or Tan Giam Lek.

Grave of Mdm Tan (grand-ma of Chia Leong Chuan)

Thanks once again to Raymond for discovery of the grave of Mdm Tan, who was the mother of Chia Kay Tuan (therefore the grand-ma of Chia Leong Chuan and also great-grand-ma of Chia Hood Theam). Unfortunately this grave is marked with stake number 1802, therefore it is slated for exhumation.

photo taken by Raymond Goh

photo taken by Raymond Goh


This is definitely the oldest Chia family ancestor found so far at Bt Brown. Based on Raymond’s translation of the tomb inscriptions, it was determined that Mdm Tan died in 1863, and listed the names of Leong Chuan, Leong Kiat and Hood Theam.

前宅 (same ancestral village as Hood Theam)
2nd year of Tongzhi reign (1863)
顕祖妣 – Honorable grandmother

儉柔 (posthumous)
謝門陳孺人墓 Mdm Tan, Chia family

隆全 – Leong Chuan
隆𠍇 – Leong Kiat

佛添 – Hood Theam

Since the name of Mdm Tan’s son Kay Tuan is not mentioned on the gravestone, it is surmised that she outlived her son; therefore only the grandsons and great grandson (Hood Theam was only just born at the time of her death) are listed. It is not known where Kay Tuan was buried, but most likely he brought only his mother out from China before he died, then perhaps went back to China and was buried there.

Additional photos taken by Beng Tang at the gravesite, enhanced in order to make the inscriptions more legible.

IMGP1802g mdmTan_1802c

Grave of Song Chit Neo (wife of Chia Leong Chuan)

Thanks to Raymond Goh and Peter Pak, who discovered today, the grave of Song Chit Neo (2nd wife of my great-great-grand pa, Chia Leong Chuan) at Lao Sua near the PIE.

Song Chit Neo (1858-1911) is the mother of Chia Lim Neo, who was step-mother and step-sister respectively, of my great-grand pa, Chia Hood Theam.

grave of Song Chit Neo

grave of Song Chit Neo

This grave with the elephants contains the oldest Chia ancestor found buried at Bt Brown area to date. My great-great-grandpa (Chia Leong Chuan, d:1889) had 6 children from two wives. He came to Singapore from China when a young man in the 1850s, in order to seek his fortune, together with his brother, Leong Kiat.  With hard work, he made it good here as shroff or comprador at Mercantile Bank.

From 1st wife “gemok”, Chia Leong Chuan had 5 children including my great-grand pa, his eldest son :-

(a) Chia Hood Theam (1863-1938) – grave located at Blk1 BBC

(b) Chia Hood Cheng

(c) Chia Hood Sang (1867-1925) – grave located at Blk1 BBC, near to his elder brother

(d) Chia Hood Teck

(e) Chia Wat Neo (1862-1953)

From 2nd wife Song Chit Neo, he had one daughter Chia Lim Neo (1875-1911) who married Ong Tek Lim and they had 3 sons.

Grave of Chia Hood Sang

I was at Bt Brown recently for the filming of “History from the Hills” Episode 3, together with Noreen.

Here are photos of the grave of Chia Hood Sang, which is located just 2 rows away from his brother Chia Hood Theam.

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