Coohey Fue (c. 1875–1920) worked as a market gardener in Devonport in northern Tasmania. He died by suicide on 10 April 1920 (Advocate, 12 April, p. 2; Tasmanian Archives SC195/1/86 Inquest 14257) and was buried by his compatriots in the Latrobe General Cemetery on 12 April (Advocate, 12 April 1920, p. 2; 13 April 1920, p. 2). Coohey Fue was said to have a wife and three or four children in China at the time of his death.
Coohey Fue’s life and passing are connected to two white marble monuments in the Latrobe General Cemetery – but as these memorials only have inscriptions in Chinese there is nothing obviously linking them to ‘Coohey Fue’.
The two monuments appear to have been made from the same materials at the same time, although one is in somewhat poorer condition than the other. The text on them differs only in the deceased’s name, and I believe they were both erected following the death of the man known in English as Coohey Fue.
Searching the Chinese-language newspapers in Trove brings up a few articles that mention the names given on the monuments:
林舉富 (Lam Kui Fu): ‘美利濱中華公會捐賑廣東水災彙録’, Tung Wah Times, 21 August 1915, p. 8, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226737771 [list of Melbourne donors to Guangdong flood relief; includes 林舉富 and another man who is presumably a brother/cousin 林舉羨]
The text on the monuments includes a number of Chinese cultural terms that are difficult to translate directly into English, including: 公 (Cantonese: gūng, honorific, for a male person), 府君 (Cantonese: fú gwān, honorific, for a person who has died), 庚申 (Cantonese: gāng sān, one of the 60-year cycle/stem-branch cycle).
TAMIOT (the Tombstone and Memorial Inscriptions of Tasmania database) provides the following details about the monuments:
LAM Kui Cheung. Native of: Guangdong Taishun Chung Fa Tsui Village. Monument erected in 1920 – LATROBE CEMETERY, GENERAL SECTION – LATROBE – DEVONPORT – LT04/0865
LAM Kui Fu. Native of: Guangdong Taishun Chung Fa Tsui Village. Monument erected in 1920 – LATROBE CEMETERY, GENERAL SECTION – LATROBE – DEVONPORT – LT04/0866
LAM Kui Cheung 林舉章
This headstone is in memory of Kui Cheung Lam, of Chung Fa Tsui, Toishan, Kwangtung.
Erected on a lucky day and a lucky month, 1920, Gang San Year, during the era of the Republic of China.
LAM Kui Fu 林舉富
This headstone is in memory of Kui Fu Lam, of Chung Fa Tsui, Toishan, Kwangtung.
Erected on a lucky day and a lucky month, 1920, Gang San Year, during the era of the Republic of China.
Coohey Fue’s ancestral village
Coohey Fue’s family name was Lam (林) and he came from Chung Fa Tsui, a Lam village in Toishan, Kwangtung, China. Chung Fa Tsui (or Songhuaju in Mandarin) is about 25 kilometres south-west of the county capital of Taicheng 台城 and about the same distance to the north-west of the coastal town of Guanghai 廣海.
廣東省 / Kwangtung / Guangdong (province)
台山縣 / Toishan / Taishan (county)
新安鄉 / Sun On / Xin’an (village)
松花咀村 / Chung Fa Tsui / Songhuaju (hamlet)
I would like to thank Lyn Phillips, and Kelli Schultz, who alerted me to these two Chinese monuments in the Latrobe General Cemetery. Kelli pointed me to a query from Lyn about the memorials that Lyn posted on the ‘Tasmanians Finding their Past – Genealogy Group’ on Facebook on 21 October 2022. I used Lyn’s photographs to transcribe and translate the text; my thanks to Mei-fen Kuo (Macquarie University) and my UTAS colleague Lucy Li (and her father) for their assistance in teasing out the nuances of the text’s meaning. I’d also like to acknowledge that the information above from TAMIOT was posted by Suzanne Griffin in response to Lyn’s post to the Tasmanians Finding their Past Facebook group. In October 2022 I did some initial digging in Trove and the Tasmanian Names Index to identify who Lam Kui Cheung / Lam Kui Fu might be, and I was able to stop off in Latrobe just before Christmas to photograph the headstones for myself.
Earlier this year I was commissioned by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) to compile a bibliography on Tasmania’s Chinese history and heritage.
The bibliography is intended as a tool to help with the study of Tasmania’s Chinese communities across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It documents existing research relating to Chinese people in Tasmania, focusing on history, heritage and community, and provides a survey of publications and other research outputs.
The bibliography was funded as part of TMAG’s Contemporary Migrant Experiences project, with funding from the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations.
On Sunday, 5 June 2022, Kirstie Ross and Grace Williams from TMAG and I presented copies of the bibliography to the Chinese Community Association of Tasmania Inc 澳洲塔省華人聯誼會 at their monthly meeting in Hobart.
The bibliography will be made available in Libraries Tasmania and the National Library through the National edeposit service. I have also made a copy available online in Zenodo.
The compilation of the bibliography marks the beginning of my work on Chinese Tasmanian history and heritage, which I will be pursuing further through the new Everyday Heritage project. Everyday Heritage is an Australian Research Council Linkage project and is a collaboration between researchers at the University of Canberra (Tracy Ireland and Tim Sherratt), University of Western Australia (Jane Lydon), University of Tasmania (me) and GML Heritage in Sydney.
Note: Terms used in the following population tables reflect the original historical sources and are considered offensive today.
Chinese population of Tasmania, 1881–1947
Source: Compiled from the Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia, No. 18, 1925, Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, Melbourne, 1925, p. 955; Census of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1933 and 1947.
Peter Cox’s local history of the former gold-mining town of Lefroy in north-eastern Tasmania, Lefroy: Tasmania’s Forgotten Gold Town (George Town and District Historical Society, 2016, p. 90), mentions a market gardener named Ah Hung, who with ‘his European wife Jemma’ had a large vegetable and fruit garden to the north of Lefroy, ‘on the old Douglas township site’.
Douglas was a town that never eventuated, about four kilometres east of Lefroy. By contrast, Lefroy was once a substantial town, reputed at one point to have been the fourth largest town in Tasmania. There was a notable Chinese community in Lefroy, including a temple. Today, there are only a few houses remaining.
Chinese miners occupy their own chapter of Cox’s study (Chapter 3, ‘Chinese and Slate’), but Jemma and Ah Hung receive only the one brief, unreferenced mention in Chapter 10 (‘The Peak of the Boom’). On a recent holiday in the East Tamar district, I set out to see what I could find out about them.
Jemima Cox and Ah Hung married in Launceston in 1875. She had come to Tasmania as a small child, after migrating with her family from Hertfordshire, England in 1856. Jemima and Ah Hung had three children, born in the early 1880s, Henry, James and Mary, and they lived on land owned by Jemima at Douglas, near Blanket Creek outside of Lefroy, where they ran a garden. Ah Hung died in 1904, after which time it seems that Jemima moved to Launceston with her eldest son, Henry. They lived in Forster Street, Inveresk, and Henry was a gardener like his father (and Jemima’s father, too). Jemima died in 1923, at age 74, in Broken Hill, New South Wales, where she was living with son Henry – she had been in Broken Hill for four months.
Below is a chronology of the information I uncovered through Trove Newspapers, the Tasmanian Names Index, the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Ancestry.com, General Register Office UK, Broken Hill Cemetery website, and maps from the National Library and Libraries Tasmania (thanks to Imogen Wegman for the latter reference). There are many leads that could be followed up about the life of Jemima and Ah Hung and their children, and I’ve noted some of these for future reference!
c. 1835–1846: Ah Hung was born.
1850: On 13 September 1850, Jemima Elizabeth Cox was born in at Nancy Bury, Tewin, Hertfordshire, England, the daughter of Daniel Cox and Mary Gregory. Her father was a woodman and her mother signed with an ‘X’.
Birth of Jemima Elizabeth Cox, Oct-Nov-Dec 1850, Hertfordshire, Vol. 6, Page 547, FreeBMD, England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 [database online], Ancestry.com.
Birth registration of Jemima Elizabeth Cox, December Quarter 1850, Hertford Union, Vol. 6, Page 547, General Register Office, United Kingdom.
1851: The family of Daniel and Mary Cox was listed in the 1851 England Census as living at Nancy Bury, Tewin, in Hertfordshire, England. The household consisted of Daniel (farmer labourer, age 32, born Tewin), Mary (housewife, age 26, born Codicote), Daniel (age 4) and Jemima (age 7 months).
Census record for Daniel Cox and household, Tewin, Hertfordshire, England, Class HO107, Piece 1711, Folio 170, Page 26, 1851 England Census [database online], Ancestry.com.
1856: On 5 February, Daniel and Mary Cox and their children arrived in New South Wales as assisted immigrants on the James Fernie. The Cox children were 7-year-old Daniel, 5-year-old Jemima, 2-year-old Joseph and a male infant born on board.
Assisted immigrants records for Daniel Cox, Mary Cox and Daniel, Jemima and Joseph Cox, arrived on James Fernie, 1856, Assisted Immigrants Index 1839–1896, NSW State Archives and Records.
Passenger list for the James Fernie, arrived Sydney on 5 February 1856, New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896 [database online], Ancestry.com.
1869: Jemima Cox gave evidence in a case about trespass on the land that her father, Daniel Cox, rented in Glen Dhu Street, Launceston.
1875: Jemima Cox and Ah Hung were married at the Wesleyan Church in Patterson Street, Launceston, by the Rev. E.W. Nye. Jemima was incorrectly said to be a native of Tasmania, aged about 25 years old, and she was still living with her parents at Cataract Hill. Ah Hung was described as a ‘middle aged man’.
They were married on 13 May 1875. He was recorded as being aged 29 and she was 25. He was a bachelor and she was a spinster. He was a miner and she was a gardener’s daughter.
c. 1880: Henry Charles Hung, son of Jemima Cox and Ah Hung, was born in Tasmania.
c. 1882: James Hung, son of Jemima Cox and Ah Hung, was born in Tasmania.
c. 1884: Mary Hung, daughter of Jemima Cox and Ah Hung, was born in Tasmania.
1889: The premises of Ah Hung at Lefroy were robbed on Tuesday, 3 September 1889, and £75 in gold and silver was stolen. The theft was not discovered until 5 September. The main suspect was another Chinese man.
1910: Mrs J. Hung of Melbourne Street, South Launceston, won the ‘Robur’ Tea Ticket Collecting Competition for February 1910 and her name was listed in a Launceston newspaper (under ‘3/6 Rewards’ in the first column).
1913: Mrs Jemima Hung was listed in the Post Office Directory as living at Forster Street, Inveresk, on the righthand side from Invermay Road after Goderich Street.
Tasmania Post Office Directory for 1913–14, H. Wise and Co., Hobart, p. 154, Ancestry.com. Australia, City Directories, 1845-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
1914: Mrs Jemima Hung (domestic duties) and Henry Charles Hung (gardener) were living in Forster Street, Inveresk.
1915: Mrs Jemima Hung was listed in the Post Office Directory as living at Forster Street, Inveresk, on the righthand side from Invermay Road after Goderich Street.
Tasmania Post Office Directory for 1915–16, H. Wise and Co., Hobart, p. 152, Ancestry.com. Australia, City Directories, 1845-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
1922: Jemima Hung (domestic duties) and Henry Charles Hung (gardener) were living in Forster Street, Inveresk.
1947: ‘Half-caste Chinese’ James Hung, age 65, died. He was the brother of Henry Charles Hung of 53 Charles Street, Launceston. James Hung’s body was found at the bottom of a cliff in the Gorge on Saturday, 1 February 1947.