Ann’s Big Trip ‘Home’

“The year 2014 is special for me. Firstly, I turned 64. Having been born in 1950, I’ve missed the Pioneer Generation Package by a few months.  No CHAS card for me but I still get called ‘Aunty’!

Ann Oehlers nee Ebert, in 1965 when she was 15 years old. “This photo is meant to emphasise my Sri Lankan features.  A lot of us Eurasians like to emphasise our Europeaness. I'm boasting my Sri Lankan smile!”

Ann Oehlers nee Ebert, in 1965, when she was 15 years old. “This photo is meant to emphasise my Sri Lankan features. A lot of us Eurasians like to emphasise our Europeaness. I’m boasting my Sri Lankan smile!”

More importantly, I travelled to Germany for the first time. I accompanied my  husband, John Oehlers, who was determined to seek out his great-grandfather Heinrich Oehlers’ place of birth.

 A carpenter’s son from Germany

So it was to the charming port city Hamburg we went. Heiligenstedten, Heinrich’s place of origin, is only an hour away from Hamburg.

Heiligenstedten Castle-TRINA CREDIT

The castle at Heiligenstedten, Germany. PHOTO CREDIT: TRINA

St Marien’s Church where Heinrich was baptised was still standing and beautifully situated by the River Stor. Heinrich Oehlers arrived in Singapore in 1860.

The bridge across the river Stör at Heiligenstedten, Germany.  PHOTO CREDIT: TRINA

The bridge across the River Stör at Heiligenstedten, Germany.
PHOTO CREDIT: TRINA

St Marien's Church where Heinrich Oehlers was baptised, in Heiligenstedten, Germany.

St Marien’s Church where Heinrich Oehlers was baptised, in Heiligenstedten, Germany.

Door handle of St. Marien's church. PHOTO CREDIT: TRINA

Door handle of St. Marien’s church. PHOTO CREDIT: TRINA

I was so happy to be there because I could see John truly moved, wondering how a son of a carpenter could venture out to the East and make such a success of his life as a ship’s captain and landowner.  The roots of the Oehlers family of Singapore stem from his marriage to Julia Carvalhu. She was 16 when they wed.

Check out the lovely walking tour you can do in Heiligenstedten, in German walking enthusiast Trina’s blog post: http://northgermanyblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/sunday-walk-in-heiligenstedten/

(Trina also shot some of the wonderful pictures featured in this post. Thanks Trina!)

A German adventurer in Sri Lanka

We also took the opportunity to visit Sri Lanka, or Ceylon, as it was known until 1972. I went to see the land where my German ancestor, George Godried Ebert, was born.  He arrived in Ceylon in 1725. The Eberts of Sri Lanka today can thank the intrepid young German for their existence. Ebert Place was a small leafy lane in Colombo and I wanted to shout aloud, “I AM AN EBERT!” I’m sure the Sri Lankans wouldn’t have minded as they are full of life.

“I couldn't resist a photo in front of the big, red bus displaying the name ‘Ebert.’ I was delighted an enterprising namesake was running a business in the burgeoning Sri Lankan tourist market.”

“I couldn’t resist a photo in front of the big, red bus displaying the name ‘Ebert.’ I was delighted an enterprising namesake was running a business in the burgeoning Sri Lankan tourist market.”

My grandfather, Victor Astley (one of George Ebert’s descendents) went out to Malaya in the 1930’s. My grandfather worked for Chow Kitt & Company as the assistant manager. He married Hilda Perera, an accomplished pianist who ran a music school.  She brought her three sons to Singapore to be educated at the Anglo-Chinese School and the family were Methodist.

Hilda Perera, Ann Oehlers’ grandmother, a pianist who ran a music school.

My Kuala Lumpur-born father, Earl Ebert, graduated from Raffles College and settled down in Singapore. He married my mother, the vivacious Dot Clarke, in 1947. Unfortunately my father died early in May 1952 when I was only 20 months, so I never knew him. When I was born, he was the deputy collector of land revenue, the highest post a local born Malayan could rise to.  I learned from my mother I was born in the first class ward of Kandang Kerbau Hospital and it cost $4. So this is a cameo of my heritage.

Earle and Dot (1)

Earle Ebert and Dot Clarke, Ann Oehlers’ parents, who married in 1947.

Circling back home

Next year Singapore turns 50. I am a proud Singaporean looking forward to the celebrations.  I was even born on the 9th of August! I am also proudly Eurasian and I salute all Singaporean Eurasians for their contributions to our island nation. We are a unique group among the many threads that embroider the Singapore fabric.” –Ann Oehlers

“My husband John Oehlers (left) and Uncle Gerard Clarke (centre, born 1918) who is my mother's brother.  He is the son of Conrad Hercules Clarke and Augusta Esmania Scheerder and he turns 96 on 20 September 2014.” Ann Oehlers pictured at right.

“My husband John Oehlers [left] and Uncle Gerard Clarke, born 1918, who is my mother’s brother. He is the son of Conrad Hercules Clarke and Augusta Esmania Scheerder and he turns 96 on 20 September 2014.” –Ann Oehlers, pictured at right.

7 thoughts on “Ann’s Big Trip ‘Home’

  1. What a read Melissa! Very rightly said: Singapore’s fabric is beautifully woven by its people who may belong to different countries/races/ethnicity but have made huge contributions to its culture.

    Like

  2. Nice reading Ann, I believe we’re related, met you briefly , I think you met my sister Bianca in her Boutique shop- I have the same pic of Aunt Hilda..

    Like

    • Nice to hear from you and I do miss popping into Bianca’s boutique at Raffles City. Yes! we are cousins and I’m sorry I never got to meet your Mum.

      Like

  3. You’re so right about us not highlighting the Non -European side of our Eurasianess. I also am of a mixed ethnic background and I call myself Eurasian because my Mother, is a Penang Eurasian. So proud you did. God Bless.

    Like

  4. Oh my goodness you were my classmate in CHIJ for a few years in Secondary school.
    How are you Ann and family? Mrs Maryann Lawrence our teacher lives in the North side of Brisbane and we just saw her at a wedding a few weeks ago. So good to see you on Eurasians Intern. Please do keep in touch.
    Susan (nee Chase-Currier)

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s