Teo Hoo Lye: Woven Threads2
Raymond Goh received an email from his great great grand daughter looking for his tomb and sent this news article below. “More and more descendants are searching for their roots,” says Raymond. Teo Hoo Lye is buried in Section D, Block 3 grave 888. His descendant Petrina Ho says Teo Hoo Lye’s main residence would be where the Cathay building at Dhoby Ghaut currently sits.
Teo Hoo Lye and his wife Mdm Kaw Tak Poh died within 1 week of each other in Nov 1933 and were buried in Bukit Brown (read obituary here). There was a school Teo Hoo Lye Institution named after him in the past. In Song Ong Siang’s book, it was written that Teo Hoo Lye started from a manual labourer to become a ship owner and also served on the committee of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. There is a picture of Teo Hoo Lye and his son in Song Ong Siang book. (Details from Raymond.)
His obituary reads: “MR. TEO HOO LYE DIES AT 80. From Labourer To Ship Owner. The death occurred early yesterday of Mr. Teo Hoo Lye, the well-known Chinese after whom the Teo Hoo Lye Institution was named. His death follows that of his wife, Madam Kam Tak Poh, who died on Nov. 9 at their home in 13 Dhoby Ghaut.
Mr. Teo Hoo Lye leaves five children, the eldest of whom is Mr. Teo Teow Peng. Mr. Teo Hoo Lye was born in China in 1853 and came to Singapore at the age of 18. In Mr. Song Ong Siang’s book on 100 years of the Chinese in Singapore, it is stated that Mr. Teo Hoo Lye earned his living by manual labour but with indomitable perseverance he was able to start, a few years after he arrived here, a small grocer’s business in Rochore Road.
When 25 years old he went to the Natuna and Anambas Islands and engaged in the copra trade. He became owner of certain steamers and his firm acted as consignee of ships belonging to other Chinese owners. He also employed a fleet of native sailing craft for conveying copra, sago and other produce from the Natunas to this port. In 1909 he started a mill for turning out parboiled rice only, but the mill ceased working just before the war, owing to the shortage of padi. He was a large house-property owner and had two sago factories in Havelock Road, Geylang. For some years he served on the committee of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.”
[The Straits Times, 17 November 1933, Page 13; The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 17 November 1933, Page 6]
The tomb lists 3 sons and 2 daughters, 9 grandsons and 10 granddaughters. Petrina posted a request for help after noting Teo had at least 3 wives. The plot is numbered 888.
Although Madam Kaw Tak Poh, (alias Kow Hooi Neo as inscribed on her tombstone), died one week before Teo, she is buried in grave no 1025, Area D, block 3, namely a little way away from his tomb.
In a typical example of how volunteers help the descendants, Khoo Ee Hoon posted the photo of the tomb:
Ee Hoon also found out his second wife Tan Chee Neo, who died much later, on July 6, 1940, is buried at Section D Block 3, 891, right in front of Teo.
Note the number is inverted on the joss container, as 168 rather than 891, which can confuse those looking for that plot number. Ee Hoon speculates that this is because 168 in Mandarin is pronounced ”一路发”，or “may your path be smooth”. Teo Hoo Lye’s plot number is an auspiscious 888 or “发发发”, to prosper forever.
Walter Lim, who researches on the Tongmenhui and Chinese revolutionaries, reformists and anti-imperialists of all manner, says Teo’s son, Tiow Peng, is buried at Bukit Brown with his wife and is a Kuomintang member. His mother was the second wife, Tan Chee Neo.
His tomb inscription reads: 2717 同安显考 朝聘张公墓 民国卅三年四月十五告终 男 木火 木林 女 素贞 素文 素心 素莹 素馨 立
Meanwhile, on the Peranakan Material Culture Facebook page, another descendant Joseph Then posted this photo on the Facebook page:
Anyone researching on Teo Hoo Lye, please contact us or the Facebook page on this post to render assistance.
Another blog post here by Rojak Librarian.