The Kee Ancestors Lineage is more then 150 years old and I am the fifth generation in the lineage. It is now in the seventh generation as some of my nieces and nephews are married and are with kids of their own.
As the Kee Ancestors Lineage has a long history, I would like to share a bit about where I come from and how my ancestor came to Malaya in the nineteenth century.
The Kee Ancestors in Sungai Bakap, Penang started with my great-great great grandfather Teochew Kee Lai Huat, the man who built Sungai Bakap town.(Sometimes pronuonced as Taochew, Teochiews or Taochiew.)
As a young man of 19, he took a barge from his Thenghai home town in Swatow, China. He arrived in Bukit Tambun, then the principal port of Province Wellesley.
Born in 1834, of Taochiew descent, he worked as a clerk on the sugar plantation of Batu Kawan pioneer settler Khaw Lau Hup.
"Chor Chor Lai Huat"(To pronounce "great great great grandfather" is too long, so "Chor Chor" means at least 2 to 3 generations ago grandfather, for his case 4 generations deep, was very industrious and hardworking.
He was promoted to a supervisor for the sugar plantation owner Khaw Lau Hup.
Khaw Lau Hup has a daughter Khaw Bee Gek of marriageable age. It seems her first betrothed died before they could get married. Chor Chor was "hand and face picked" by a feng shui master.
The tycoon seek the feng shui master's help and was told, a certain young man coming in the next boat with such kind of facial expression will be suitable for his daughter. Dutifully Khaw Boo Aun waited at the shore to pick up the young man.
So started the Kee Ancestor Lineage tradition. When they first got married, Chor Chor was not rich and Khaw Lau Hup would monthly sent a "cream cracker" tin of Spanish coins for his daughter use.
Chor Chor had six sons, named from the eldest Kee Ancestors Lineage:
- Tek Chye
- Tek Kooi
- Tek Phang (my lineage)
- Tek Kow
- Tek Seng
- Tek Leng
Now since he has six sons in the Kee Ancestors Lineage, he got to make sure they stayed together. In doing so, he built Sungai Bakap township, in the same replica like the homes in China then under the Manchus.
Nyonyapearl's note: Middle names are given and prepared by Chor Chor. The Tek, Hup, Ban, Chin, Yong, Thuan are middle names in the Kee Ancestors Lineage.
Till today, my brother though he is a Christian checked with the trustees before naming his children. The 3rd lineage are those with middle names Hup, Ban and Chin. My own Kee Ancestor Lineage after Great great father Tek Phang is Ban Chuan.
Now the fourth lineage is the Saik and the Yong. My late father is Saik. If dad is alive today, he would be 95. My late father has no more surviving sisters or brothers but for the Yongs, I met Uncle Yong Hee.
Chor Chor died at 58 in Sungai Bakap and his remains were taken back to China. He maintained close ties in China.
Even after his death in 1892, a substantial amount of money is sent back to his relatives. Chor Chor was a strict man but was fair to all.
Chor Chor wrote a will six months before he died which stated that his sons were not allowed to gamble, smoke opium, contact veneral diseases or break the Law.
He ruled that "the wrong doer get nothing, only 2000 dollars. He left specific instructions that the family need not over spent on funeral expenses and be frugal and guided by discretion.
Last week, I was at Sungai Bakap "Kong Chu",or the Kee Kongsi. Uncle Kee Yong Hee was there to explain to me the Kee Ancestors Lineage. My last visit was in Year 2000, when uncle Kee Saik Poh passed on.
Our Kee ancestors home is so rich in our heritage. It is such a waste to be so silent about it. Despite effort to restore the kongsi, I feel a calling for the descendants to come home with your new family, to explain to them their heritage.
Descendants need to understand their roots, their culture and tradition. Chor Chor built this with a VISION that the descendant have a permanent place to come home too.
There are three section with altars. Chor Chor's name tablet sits in the first line as the first generation on the center of the main section altars.
Below him are the six sons. So it means the "center" altar housed the first and second generation of the Kee Ancestors Lineage.
First lineage, is Chor Chor is "Lai", then 2nd lineage is the "Tek".
When my father was alive back in the 80's, we used to meet up with Uncle and Auntie Saik Poh (father's cousin brother) and late granduncle Kee Ban Hoe (Uncle Saik Poh's father).
He too passed on at a ripe age of 97 in the year 1996. It was fun talking to Cheat Chneh Kong (7th granduncle and cousin to my late grandfather). He has lots of stories and jokes to share.
His sense of humor was great. Even in his nineties, Grand Uncle Ban Hoe and his buddies would be walking around town.
When you talked to him, you need to be careful with your words. Even at his age, he is mentally alert, as he could catch you misusing words.
On a few occasions, I had this to tell. He would asked, "Have you all eaten?" and we said "not yet". Then he would ask, "What you like to eat?"
We would reply chin chye, "Anything also we eat."...literal speaking, we can eat anything because won't want to trouble granduncle) "okay, Grand Uncle Ban Hoe would replied", Ok let us go and eat (lang bah) human meat.
Then we would correct ourselves and he would roar to laughter. Really those were good great times we had. The house behind the ancestor main hall had a big playing ground in the courtyards.
We had all kinds of pets. Homing pigeons and scorpions in pits. Sometimes, men folks will be towing the iguana back form hunting. We would see then skin it.
The fifth generation are my brothers Thuan.I am trying to make sense of my writing on ancestor worship. Why I keep coming to this subject. Why I wanted to start writing? I will write more after my research.
I hope someone who has more knowledge of olden days history and will share more of their own stories. If there are any "Kee's reading this, I hope to hear from you. You may contact me at my Keep in touch page.