The first blog post of North Borneo Historical Society focuses on a peculiar man named W. F. C. Asimont.
Asimont has recently become popular in the blogosphere in Sabah because of a grand mansion in Kinarut that was gazetted by the Sabah State Museum in 1994. Asimont used to live in this mansion, but for some reason it was demolished in 1923.
Visible remnants of this mansion are stone pillars and grand staircase, tiles and concrete pillars. More photos can be found here.
Asimont was working for The Straits Settlements (Negeri-Negeri Selat) which were a group of British territories located in Southeast Asia and he had lived in Singapore for a few years before spending his time in Kinarut.
Based on the newspaper articles published on the Straits Times, he previously worked as auctioneer and land valuer in the UK.
He was a non-resident member (Asimont was reported to be German) of the London-based Royal Colonial Institute and regularly attended the general meeting.
Being the manager of Kinarut Rubber Estate, he spent some of his time writing a book entitled Hevea Brasiliniensis or Para Rubber in Malaya Peninsula : notes and figures in connection with the cultivation of Para Rubber. It was claimed that he had vast experience planting rubber in Sumatera which probably the reason why he was appointed to be the manager of Kinarut Rubber Estate. When the book was released in 1908, it was sold at $1.50 per copy.
In some of the newspaper articles I read, he was once declared bankrupt but based on a post on Eastern Daily Mail and Straits Morning Advertiser, he obtained his discharge from bankruptcy, “unconditionally and honourably,” from Sir Lionel Cox on 21 December 1905.
Last but not least, in 1906 he was declared as “The Man of the Moment” which is an award for the most popular man in The Straits Settlement.
Asimont still remains a mysterious man to me.