Lim Family

The eventful history of the Lim family

A.D. Lim

The 1920s and 30s were the heyday of the port town of Sibolga on Sumatra on the Indian Ocean. The city has a history of rise and fall. There was one Chinese family that particularly distinguished itself in Sibolga. That was the Lim family, they were active as entrepreneurs and community leaders.

This family also has an eventful history. In 1996, the Indonesian writer Sitor Situmorang wrote down his memories of his childhood in Sumatra in his book De Oude Tijger (The Old Tiger). About Sibolga he wrote:

The city of…

Fountain Ice cream in Medan

About wood trading, dancing, bread baking and ice creams

Silverstar Dance Club

The city of Medan on Sumatra is a booming town. This is evident in the ubiquitous high rise buildings, new hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and the highly unorganized traffic. It is a prosperous, although rather chaotic city, with intense trade connections within Southeast Asia and beyond. Within the many new luxurious shopping malls and shopping centres, there is one restaurant which is conspicuously present. This is the Medan based Fountain Ice Cream company. At the moment there are twelve Fountain shops in Medan. …

De Grand Lady of Music of Medan

Nonnie Lemye Tjong in 1950

Ms Lemye Tjong-Sze-yin, also known as Nonnie, was the youngest daughter of the Major (the highest representative) of the Chinese, Tjong A Fie, on Sumatra. Born in 1912 in Medan, she spent her childhood in the big Chinese family house of Tjong A Fie on Kesawan. From an early age, from the age of eight, she received piano lessons.

When Harm Kamerlingh Onnes in 1923 went to visit the family Tjong he wrote about her:

“Then Non, about 11 years in a checkered blue pyama, and a cape head with shiny black hair, a nice kid to see. Such a…

Tan Boen Djin

A Chinese boy from Medan

Tan Boen Djin in Amersfoort

Tan Boen Djin, born in Medan in 1914, was the youngest son of Tan Tang Ho, owner of Seng Hap, which was the most beautiful and luxurious shop of the city. Tan Boen Djin could spend hours talking about his father, how he from a poor Chinese kelontong trader with two baskets on his shoulder managed to become a prominent citizen of Medan. Seng Hap imported goods and food from Europe, America, China and Australia. The impressive department store was opened in 1900.

Seng Hap

De Sumatra Post reported on December 2…

Coffee collectors, Naudin, 1909

The Multatuli of Deli

Lawyer John van den Brand (1864–1921) from Medan is known for his manifesto “De millioenen van Deli” ( The millions of Deli) on labor excesses on the east coast of Sumatra. In addition, van den Brand was a successful lawyer, editor of De Sumatra Post and an active city councilor in Medan. Van den Brand can be compared to Multatuli (Eduard Douwes Dekker), the Dutch author of Max Havelaar, (1860) the best known publication in which Dutch colonial policy was criticized.

In October 1902 van den Brand published the brochure “De millioenen van Deli”. The world…

Corridor in Hotel Bukit Kubu


The spirit in the house of Mr and Mrs Lim Medan has returned. It is the spirit of a deceased Javanese woman who worked as a coolie at the plantation ‘Johor Estate’ and lost her life on the estate due to unnatural causes. When the ‘Kakek’ (grandfather) of the plantation Tandem Hilir, as a medium, had spoken to the spirit two years ago, and had asked her kindly to relocate, she initially did so and moved to a large tree behind the house. But she did not like it there, it was dirty, she told the ‘Kakek’ and went…

Talang Benoa

Talang Benoa was born in the village of Gomo on the island of Nias 42 years ago. Nias lies in the Indian Ocean and is ten hours by boat from Sibolga on the west coast of Sumatra. In the village of Gomo there is an absence of roads and one must walk the last few kilometers to reach the mountain village. Since the people are living close to nature, they live in ancient houses around a square where during days of festivities they compete in stone jumping. This is an art in which one jumps valiantly and fearlessly over a…

Traditional Chinese shophouse in Medan, Sumatra

Jalan Hakka

Chinese family Khoe in Medan on Sumatra wants to sell their home. This home has a moving history.

The property Jalan Hakka (Hakka Street) number two was purchased in 1968 by Khoe Hok Tiong and his wife Lim Kiam Sui when they moved from Sibolga to Medan. Jalan Hakka is located in the busy commercial center of Medan. Jalan Hakka mainly consists of rice wholesalers, where it is resold to the Medan retailers. Only at number two is there no rice business established, here is the transport company of the late Khoe Hok Tiong, also a transport company…

Dirk A. Buiskool

Dutch historian in Medan

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