Happy Valley Graves | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Happy Valley Graves

Happy Valley Graves

This is a fairly recent picture of the grave of Jons Jakobsson aka John Olson. I have an original in the family archives. This is in Section 16B in Grave 8284. His wife Ching Ah Fung is buried nearby in Grave 8119. John died in 1918 and his wife died in 1915. I have archive pictures and a fairly recent picture of Ching Ah Fung's grave which says: In Loving Memory of Ellen Olson  who died 20th October 1915 aged 61  years.

John also buried two brothers Anders and Olaf in the Happy Valley Cemetery.

Anders died in 1872 and was buried in Section 40 in Grave 3915. I'm told this grave may have been moved during the Aberdeen Tunnel project.

Olaf died in 1880 and is buried in Section 38 grave number 4482.

As there are no pictures of these graves in the family archive I wonder  if there is any source of pictures of these areas or graves. Or even do they still exist.

All suggestions gratefully received.


Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Sunday, February 24, 1918


Trying again to see if there is anybody out there with info about graves in Happy Valley.

One small point the picture was not taken in 1918 but in 2008. I have originals of the grave and also an original of my great grandmother's grave. But nothing at all on my great uncles.

Any information, or ways of finding out, what has happened to Happy Valley graves mentioned in the original post would be gratefully received.



Buy me lunch (send HK$100 to David via Paypal) and I'll go visit the Cemetary and ask about those specific locations.

Hi Annelisec,

Happy to do that. Not sure how my Paypal is working at the moment but can Visa it. How to I do that securely to David? Let me know and I'll send €50 and you can have a beer as well! David has my email address is you want to use that to reply.



Sorry to mess up the lunch scheme, but as I was in Happy Valley this morning I called into the graveyard on the way home. Found Olaf's but not Anders'. I'll post up more info tomorrow.

Regards, David

You never cease to amaze me David. Look forward to your info.

Sorry Annelisec. Maybe I'll get out to HK one of these days and buy you all lunch.


Here's the map they give you at the office in the cemetery (office location marked with red box):

Hong Kong Cemetery Map

If you click & view the larger map, you'll see sections 38 and 40 are in the bottom left corner, next to each other.

I has a look in section 40, but couldn't find any sign of Anders' grave. There are several with worn lettering. Maybe you'd find it if you took some paper and crayon and made a rubbing. Definitely a job for winter though, wearing long sleeves & trousers, and plenty of bug repellent!

I had better luck in section 38. Here's the stone for Olof [sic] Olson:

Olof Olson's Gravestone

Was he still a sailor? That's what the emblem suggests.

As far as I can make out the inscription, it reads:

Sacred to the memory of
Native of Carlshann Sweden
born 25th November 1839
Died 17th August 1880
Rest in Peace

Regards, David

Quite amazing. Thanks so much David. First time any of my family have seen this grave and it is fascinating to see that my great grandfather Jons Jakobsson aka John Olson had the anchor put on the stone.

Olof signed on at the Seaman's House, Karlshamn, Sweden, as a seaman but I have only been able to trace him on coastal vessels. One way or another he must have followed his brother Jons who was also a seaman - ship's cook - to HK.

Anders is for another day but I suspect that he may also have a emblem of the sea as he too was signed on as a seaman in Karlshamn. Again a Ship's Cook. We suspect he died very shortly after reaching HK in 1872.

In my research ( www.thehongkonglegacy.com) on the family history I say:


Olof died in 1880 and his gravestone in Happy Valley says:

Sacred to the memory of Olaf Olson a native of Carlshamn, Sweden, born 24 November 1839, died 17 August 1880.

According to the St John’s register Olof died on August 18, 1880 and his residence is shown as Nationals (sic) Hotel, Queen’s Road, Central and a note adds that he died in the Civil Hospital.

Olof’s address is in all likelihood the old National Tavern, as the public house seems to have become a hotel at some stage and Olof is mentioned on the Jury List for 1880 as the manager of the National Hotel. One thing is for sure. He died in the best hospital in town! The Government Civil Hospital was a colonial showpiece on the lower slopes of the Peak.

His gravestone was erected by John in September 1882 and cost HK$950 from a stonemason called Fernando Sainz. And it seems the deal was handled by John’s compradore Tang Leong Kok. (Carl Smith Archive)

Thanks again for all the trouble you have gone to. Lunch definitely on me.




I would hesitate to describe the Civil Hospital of 1880 as a colonial showpiece. At this time it occupied a buiding originally intended as the new Lock Hospital (for the treatment and detention of prostitutes) just above Queen's Road in Sheung Wan. Its predecessor was the old Hotel d'Europe building on Hollywood Road, but that burned down in the Great Fire of 1878. In his annual report for 1882, the Colonial Surgeon noted: 'The subject of a Government Hospital has been under discussion for fifteen years, the Colony never having as yet possessed a hospital, but only makeshifts pending this discussion.'

Photo of the hospital from about 1890 here. The superintendants house on right. Possibly taken from the Sister's Quarters. http://hkclweb.hkpl.gov.hk/hkclr2/object?svc=objrtv&src=CM&itemid=NPCAQYUWSWVHA%23OU&pid=1&mime=image/jpeg

sisters quarters (later Lunatic Asylum) of Civil Hospital from about 1930 here. Probably taken from Civil Hospital site


Thanks for the info. My research took me to Dr Phillip Ayers who was appointed Colonial Surgeon and Inspector of Hospitals in HK in 1873 and who built the first government hospital. He was of the view there was nothing in the colony that could be regarded as a hospital when he arrived. He has an extensive obit in The Lancet. I also used Edward Marriot's book "The Plague Race" as reference.

Certainly Olaf died in better circumstances than his brother Anders who died the Seaman's Hospital in 1872 a year before Ayers arrived.




Great picture. Any idea when the hospital was built? I assume it was under the watch of Dr Philip Ayers as he did not retire as Hospital supremo for HK until 1894.

If you look at page two of the Colonial Surgeon's Annual Report for 1888 here, you'll see mention of a New Wing opening. I'm pretty sure that this was what we now think of as the actual Civil Hospital, as it was several years under construction judging from earlier reports.

"The original Civil Hospital had been destroyed by a typhoon in 1874 and relocated to the vacant Hotel d'Europe until it too was destroyed in the great fire of 1879.

The hospital was then shifted to a new school building in Sai Ying Pun,  where it served as the main hospital on hong Kong Island for nearly 60 years. " 


"In 1897, a maternity hospital was added as an annexe to the Civil Hospital."

The Hong Kong health sector: development and change
 By Robin Gauld, Derek Gould


That sorts the problem. As My great great uncle died in September 1880 he died in the hospital converted from a school building in Sai Ying Pun.

Thanks annelisec and sorry about the lunch. 

But Olof's brother Anders still needs finding!

The fact that the authors of that material put the great fire as 1879, not 1878, sets off a small research alarm in itself, but in any case, here’s some primary source material that would seem to refute their Sai Ying Pun School claim.

 Colonial Surgeon’s Report 1879.:


‘On the 27th of December [1878, just after the fire], the Lock Hospital at West Point was opened as a temporary Civil Hospital . . .’


Colonial Surgeon’s Report for 1881:


This Establishment [Civil Hospital] still occupies both the old and the new Lock Hospitals.

Civil Hospital discussion - shall we move it to the "place" Civil Hospital http://gwulo.com/node/7180

Check out:


I sent an email and got this reply:

Thank you for contacting me.  I do have the memorial inscription of Anders Olson and can give you this together with the area of the cemetery where I found the grave.  I am not able to give you the precise location but I can give you a few of the inscriptions on either side just in case his is indistinct.  That should make it easier to find.

I undertook my project between 1985 and 1995 which was after the Aberdeen Tunnel project.  As I received no funding for this project I do make a charge of £15 for the details in order to try to recoup some of the expenses.  Paypal will be fine and I can send you an invoice if you wish to go ahead.

I will be in HK next February at which time I hope to photograph many more of the stones.

Best wishes


Over to you Sean ...

Hi annelisec,

See you were in touch with Twiglet. That's where I got my original info from too. But then she charged a tenner! She did much of her work when she was working for the old HK Police as I understand it.

I hope you have not paid her again. If you have let me know and I will reimburse you.

As for the lunch blame David! I was all on for it as you can see from the email I sent. 

However, I am hoping to be in HK in March so will buy you lunch and and a beer.

Sean sent over a photo showing the surroundings. With that I called in again yesterday, and it was easy to spot. It's actually in section 42, a little distance up the slope from Olof's grave:

Anders' Gravestone

Can anyone tell me what time the Cemetery closes, please?  I will be there on Wednesday for a few hours in the afternoon and really want to get to see his grave?

Can't help on times but wonder  if you have a reason for wanting to visit this particular grave?


Carl Smith's often cryptic terminology seems to have caused confusion in card no. 00138710.GIF. The word "memorial" here refers to the record of a property transaction between John Olson and the Spanish Dominican Mission to China, Tonguay and Formosa, not the manufacture of Olof Olson's gravestone. The Very Reverend Fernando Sainz was Procurator to the above Mission and responsible for its property deals in the late 1870s and early 1880s, not a stone mason. It would seem that John Olson did not delay two years in erecting his brother's gravestone. This particular card records two sales of properties in Wa In Fong Street in 1882, one of which was bought by John Olson for $950, seemingly as an investment. Tang Leong Kok, his compradore, also acted for other people, according to other records of transactions with Fr. Sainz.

As to the premature death of Olof Olson, brother of John, my great-grandfather, I gather that the BMD claimed not to find a death certificate for him. I have twice found that it is worth confronting the BMD with an alternative record, when birth or death records are not found, as a slight difference in spelling or date entry can cause the search to come up negative.  It is a pity not to know how Olof died and to fill in this gap in the Olson story. 

00138710.GIF, by jill