‘An adventure to find more of my Chinese heritage and my home village’
“I was born in a van…down by the river…”
I was born in Honolulu, US Territory of Hawaii. I’m of Chinese descent and born in Hawaii. My Chinese friends, who were born in China, call me ABC. Usually it is because they find out that I don’t speak Chinese. They start blabbing words to me and I reply, “ I don’t understand!”. “Oh, you ABC”, they reply in broken english. American Born Chinese. “No, I am Chinese, born in Hawaii. My parents were born in Hawaii. My Grandparents were born in Hawaii, and some of my Great-Grandparents were born in Hawaii”. Not “in a van down by the river” as Matt Foley may have said. The amazing thing is that I believe that I am 100% Chinese… all of my ancestors married Chinese.
My ancestors, like many, came from the Pearl River Delta Area in China — close to Macau and Hong Kong. Some of them came to Hawaii through San Francisco and the California Gold Rush. After Britain and Portugal got access to Hong Kong and Macau, they started shipping contract laborers all over the world. The first chinese coming to Hawaii starting in the 1850’s. Some of my ancestors came to find a better life, came with the help of the Basel Missionaries, to get married or went to California to dig for gold. Most of the Chinese came with 3–5 year labor contracts. Some went back to China after making money in the Gold Rush, and some went to South America. Luckily for me, my ancestors came back and/or stayed in Hawaii. They paid a price for this as they lost contact with their relatives/family back in China. There are some records but my hope to find lost relatives in china on my fathers side or my mother’s side may prove difficult.
My dad, Dr. Gordon Y.H. Chang, was born in Hawaii, grew up in Wahiawa, married Jean Hanoi Wung from Hilo, Hawaii, and raised a family of 6 children in Honolulu near Diamond Head. His father, Ah Gett Chang, was born in China and raised his family with a restaurant/bar in Wahiawa. Records such as my grandfather’s draft registration indicated that he was born in Kauai. My dad’s sister tells the story that this was not true and he was from China —He lied about his origins because he was afraid of being deported or something because of the Chinese Exclusion Act. My father grew up and had to remember my father’s village. My father never told me. My Aunt did though- “Goo Hok Cheun, Kung Seong Doo, Joong Sang. Kwangtung”. After hearing this, I had to ask since I didn’t speak Chinese. What?!!! Where the heck is that? Is it Mandarin, is it Cantonese, is it Hakka? How do I find where it is?
My mother’s Father, En Kong Wung was the son of Sam Sing Wung and Loi Yu Wong from Hong Kong. Sam Sing settled in Kohala, Hawaii with the help of the Basel Missionaries in Hong Kong. He was kicked out of his village because he committed a defiant act and ate the head of a chicken at an alter. Thus he left China on a 3 year labor contract to Kohala.
With this little bit of facts or tales, I undertook an adventure and journey to find out a little bit more about my ancestors including the locations of the villages that they came from before they arrived in Hawaii. This journey was filled with different paths and ‘errors’ because I don’t read, write nor speak Chinese. I eventually discovered a few things about my heritage so writing about this may help others, my relatives, my nieces & nephews discover a few things about themselves and our ancestors.
From Hawaii, I am 3rd generation Chinese on my paternal side. However, I am 4th generation on my dad’s mother’s side and I am 4th and 5th generation on my mother’s side. Most people living in Hawaii have generations of relatives. We would tease each other that for everyone that you dated… you should check beforehand to see if you are related. I don’t have too many relatives on my paternal grandfather’s side. He came to Hawaii by himself. We used to have a family gathering with relatives of my paternal grandmother as we celebrated and prayed for my Greatgrandparents at ‘Ching Ming’. There is a record in the Bishop Estate archive that has listed 17 generations of the ‘Chock’ clan going back to China.
We would have reunions for my maternal great grandfather descendants- the Wung Reunion. This clan is also huge. Resources and stories to help with family history are few..basically word of mouth. My dad’s sister has written down a few stories that she remembers. My mother has written down a story about her grandfather that has been published. Another story had been published on my mother’s father’s sister’s family who’s son was Bill Richardson who was Lt. Governer of Hawaii. Word of mouth stories or stories from memory tend to change the actual facts. My research may have discovered some of these.
I speak no Chinese
I don’t speak Chinese. I grew up speaking English. I don’t write or read Chinese either. Not Cantonese. Not Mandarin nor Hakka. I was born in the Territory of Hawaii, two months before it became a state. My father spoke Cantonese but still had to have his patients teach him medical terms and anatomy in Cantonese. I never heard my mother speak Hakka although she said she spoke a bit but stopped when her mother-in-law, my grandmother, told her to stop as she would say it was bad Chinese. The joke is Hakka’s were from the mountains. Hillbilly’s as you would say in America. We really don’t write chinese also. I remember one of our ‘clan’ teeshirts at a reunion having the chinese character for our name being a mirror image. How funny is that. Maybe my ancestors were born by the river, by the mountain, in a rickshaw.
I would always get ‘Why don’t you speak Chinese? whenever I go to a Chinese restaurant. I am 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation. My mother’s maternal grandfather was born on Kauai. That makes me 5th generation. Little would they know that I am more American than most people living in the USA…so I would utter the words “ I am more than likely more American than anyone in this room!”…that was until I met my friend and ex-housemate. She had ancestors that lived in Jamestown and had recently found out that she had an ancestor that was on the Mayflower Pilgram ships.
Chinese words are spelt this way
Because I spoke English, I tended to track down a heritage research lead if it was written in English. It was easier. I avoided the ‘Chinese’ written documents. If I heard a spoken word in Chinese, I would spell it with the english alphabet-romanize it. There are standards to do this: jyutping in Cantonese or pinyin in Mandarin. I didn’t follow their rules, but my rules. This looks to be true for documents and maps that ‘write’ the english letters for the words as it sounded. For example… Beijing for the capital of China. Goo Hok Cheun for my grandfather’s village. Ah Gett Chang for my grandfather’s name. Gordon Yen Hoi Chang for my father. I really did not know how to write it in chinese. I’ve seen my last name “Chang” written as ‘Cheng’, ‘Tseng’, ‘zheng’. The other problem was that I did not know if the romanized word was Cantonese, Madarin, Taishan or Hakka. Also, you would find all kinds of spellings in English for names, villages, towns, cities, districts, and provinces. Oh what fun I was going to have on this journey. Creativity, imagination, google translate, Chinese radical tools all helped. Another problem that arose was that my grandparents generation wrote in traditional Chinese whereas today, most of the Chinese characters are in simplified Chinese. In the end, I found out, that it is best to read/write Chinese or get the Chinese character for the word, the name, the village, the city, etc. Now, even Google understands the character-Google Maps too.
My Paternal Heritage
Ah Gett Chang was born in China, not Hanapepe, Kauai
I only had bits and pieces of information to start my journey. My Dad had passed away and I never made the time to talk to him about our heritage history. His sister has given me more information about him from her memory about conversations she had with her father and other stories that she has verbally stated and written. She states that she would argue with her brothers about their father even though she had conversations with her father where he told her that this was the ‘real’ story. What my father and uncles believe was that he was born in Hanapepe, Kauai. What my aunty says is that he was born in China about 1879 and came to Hawaii at the age of 14–15 in 1894. This is what is on his tombstone.
I found a draft registration card for Ah Gett Chang. Humphrey Chang was listed as a contact. He was the 2nd eldest son.( I eventually found out that there was a daughter and son between Jack, the oldest, and Humphray. Here, the draft registration card states that he was born in Hanapepe, Kauai on March 16, 1884. This was wrong. My Aunty had conversations with my grandfather at the end of his life where he stated that he was born in China and not Hanapepe. He had to redo his records several times due to destruction by fire. He couldn’t remember the exact western date. I assume that he knew the date by Lunar Calendar. Also, he told everyone including his children that he was born in Hanapepe. When he died, my Uncles, aunty and my father argued where and when he was born.
The Chinese Exclusion Act was a United States federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882. It was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in US history, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. The act followed revisions made in 1880 to the US-China Burlingame Treaty of 1868, revisions that allowed the US to suspend Chinese immigration.
Ah Gett was afraid that he might be deported or that he might not be able to come back to Hawaii if he left. He lied about his birthplace and the date. According to Mayblossom, he was born in China in 1879 and not 1884 and not in Hanapepe, Kauai. His home town was Goo Hok Cheun and his father had run a ‘school’ back in China. I still don’t know when he came to Hawaii.
His name really is Chang Mun Gett 鄭 文杰
My dad’s father’s name is Chang Ah Gett. That is what is on his tombstone in English. That is what I would hear as his name. In a story that my Aunty had written about her father, she states “his formal name is Chang Mun Gett”. Ah Gett is the informal affectionate way to call him. Chinese do this to also help differentiate brothers. Family members would have parts of the name the same. It is something like adding ‘ny’ to John to affectionately call him ‘Johnny’. What I eventually found out was that there is no ‘Ah’ written in Chinese on his tombstone. There is Chang Mun Gett ( 鄭 文杰) in Chinese. Chang Ah Gett is in English. I would have to remember this in my research. Jyutping cantonese romanization would state that it is spelt Man instead of Mun.
Chang Ah (Mun) Gett married Chock Pang and had five sons and a daughter. Jack, the eldest was never married. Humphrey married Aunty Tai but did not have any children. Gordon, my father, married Jean Wung and had Douglas, Valerie, Russell, Stuart, Chris and Stacie. Thomas married Aunty Cherry and had Alan, Phillip, Donna and Jack. Mayblossom married Bob Wilkinson and had Steve, Sunya, Sue-lynn and Willie. There was a son and daughter between Jack and Humphrey that died right after being born.
Ah Gett’s father, Chang Hin, was a descendant of a long line of scholars in Joong San but was apparently stripped of his status by the emporer. They did run a school in China. Ah Gett had older three sisters, the youngest of which was sold into slavery to help with finances for the family. Ah Gett, because he could read and write and stories of opportunities in Hawaii, was able to get on a boat to Hawaii and use his skills to help write letters back home for the other Chinese. He was trying to save enough money to buy her freedom, but she got married so he had to then save more money to buy her husband and her out of slavery. However, the war with the Japanese started and he lost track of them. I don’t know if there are records of them in our family in Hawaii. If we do somehow find other relatives in China, that would be amazing but difficult. Ah Gett was the only son along with three sisters. Family history usually follows the men.
You could refer to three other stories that my Aunty May-Blossom wrote to get details. “Chock Hinn, my maternal grandfather”, “Legend of the Chang Family”, “Chang Ah Gett, my father”. I had put them on Medium.com
A visit back to Goo Hok Cheun
Goo Hok Cheun, Koong Seong Doo, Joong Sang, Kwangtung was the ‘village’ that my dad and siblings were told to remember. My grandmother and my dad’s eldest brother, Jack, had gone back to visit the home village and shrine after Chang Hin and wife were ill in the mid 1920’s. Chang Ah Gett did not go and visit. He was afraid to go back as he felt that he would not be able to come back to the USA because of the Exclusion Act. Apparently, they added Chang Ah Gett’s (Mun Gett) name and five sons to the shrine (one son between Jack and Humphrey had died after birth).
To collaborate the timing of this trip, I found a ship manifest for this trip as they came back in Sept 1928 from Shanghai after spending 3 months there. It would be nice to research the Zupu/Jiapu (Genealogy/Clan records)at the Gongci or ancestral Hall. and see if they see these entries. It would have been entered in 1928 and have Chang Mun Gett 鄭 文杰 with the 5 sons with Chang Hin as his father. Uncle Jack, I believe, went back at a later time to visit this village. My father and mother went to China in 1977 but did not visit this village. I don’t think any one of my other Uncles and Aunty’s went back to visit nor knew where it was. They only knew the name. I think that this eventually turned out to be ‘mixed up’. I found this record online. Records for ships manifest earlier than 1900 is harder to locate.
But this still didn’t answer the question… where is Goo Hok Cheun?
Goo Hok Cheun, Koong Seong Doo, Joong Sang, Kwang Tung
This was the village that Ah Gett Chang came from. For a person that doesn’t speak or read chinese, Cantonese or Mandarin…Where do you start? I know that I would need translation help. Also, I would expect that everything would be in Mandarin now and the mandarin romanization (Pinyin) of the words would be different. Did anything else change? I found out that districts, etc had changed through the years.
Initial search found some maps. I focused my attention to the English words and not the chinese. The English words have all kinds of romanization spellings. This task would be challenging.
I looked for and found old maps.
This was a german map that I found of Kwang Tung Province in 1878. This is not detailed enough to see villages.
This is a map I found of the Pearl River Delta Region and KwangTung Province. You can see Zhongshan close to Macau. Joong San is spelt Zhongshan here.
This map was somewhat helpful in that it clearly shows Kung Sheong Doo by the number 6. There is no detail for the villages. I found another map with the spelling Goong Sheong Doo. It also lists Goo Hok and Koon Tong. Would these be our villages?
University of Texas has historical maps circa 1954 that were World War II maps of the area. I found the Joong Sang area but the Cities/villages are in Mandarin.
A big help was a document written by Char/Woo called “Geography of Kwangtung Province for Hawaii Residents” 1981. In this it helped decipher all of this and also explained that it changed in the early 1900s.
Kwangtung is a Province. There are about 70 districts or Counties within a Province called ‘In’ or ‘hsien’(Mandarin). During this time, the districts were somewhat dialectally bordered. Joong Shan or Zhongshan(Mandarin) is one of them. And the romanization is of the JoongShan Dialect. This district was renamed in 1925 from Heungshan to Chungshan (or Joong San or ZhongShan(mandarin))to honor Dr. Sun Yat Sen.
There are over 363 Cheun (or villages) within Chungshan. Groups/clusters of villages form a heung ( 鄉)which there are over 63. You could call these heung a market or town. Sometimes they would combine to form a heungchuen or village area. Prior to 1925, Heungshan(JoongShan)had 10 ‘subdistricts’ that they called ‘doo’. Kung Seong Doo was one of them. The nationalist government (1911–1949)changed these subdistricts into administrative districts or precincts called ‘kee’. Kung Seong Doo became precinct 6 ‘kee’.
What is also listed in the Char/Woo Pamphlet was a list of villages and ‘heung’s in Chungshan. The problem for me was that it was in Chinese.
An online tool was used to help me figure out the chinese characters for Goo Hok at http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php
For example, Goo Hok Cheun looks like 古鹤村. Goon Tong Cheun looks like 官塘村.
I was using the Jyutping romanization.
My grandmother’s tombstone has Goo Hok Cheun in Chinese. I discovered that the wife’s tombstone would put the husband’s village. This would make it hard to trace my grandmother’s village. My Grandfather’s tombstone has something that looks like that but ‘Goo’ doesn’t look right. This caused confusion for my search. I looked in the Char/Woo Pamphlet under Kung Seong Doo for villages with Goo Hok 古鹤. I could not find it.
However, I did find it in another district next to Kung Seong Doo called Gook Doo. I found Goon Tong in Kung Seong Doo. This was the village that I would eventually discover was my Grandmother’s village.
Now I questioned if Goo Hok Cheun, Kung Seong Doo belonged together.
According to Char/Woo, it should be Goo Hok Cheun, Gook Doo and Goon Tong Cheun, Kung Seong Doo. However, today, the districts have changed to ‘Kee’ and the boundries have changed. Kung Seong Doo as a district doesn’t exist today. It does list Goo Hok Cheun as part of the Hong Chai Heung(town) and Goon Tong as part of the Ha Chak Heung.
Roots Village Database
There is a resource called the Roots Village Database. This was started by Hong Kong to help with fraud in immigration for villages after 1948. http://villagedb.friendsofroots.org/display.cgi?level=County&id=4
Another database was started to help with children finding their roots. The database mapped villages that children plotted after they found their roots or village in China. The database has been plotted on Google Maps which maps villages found by students finding their roots.
The Roots Village Database listed Ku Hok village, the Heung, the area and the surnames that came from this village. There were 鄭,陳 Cheng, Chan. They spelt my last name differently but the chinese character is 鄭.
Here is a little more detail on my ancestor village for Chang:Goo Hok or Ku Hok.
Village: 古鶴 Ku Hok
Surname: 鄭,陳 Cheng, Chan
Heung 鄉: 康濟 Hong Chai (Hong Chai had 10 villages, one of which is Ku Hok)
Area: 5 ( Area 5 had 9 Heung’s, one of which is Hong Chai)
County: 中山 Chung Shan: Chung Shan had 9 Areas, one of which was area 5
You can see Hong Chai at about 57,70 on the grid on the map of Kwun Tong. Hong Chai Heung would have contain Ku Hok Cheun. This map is 1948 which is after the nationalists created the administrative districts ‘Kee’ instead of the ‘Doo’.
If you take the chinese characters of Goo Hok 古鹤, the Mandarin pinyin romanization would be Gu He. I found Gu He in the University of Texas Maps. They spelt it “Ku Hao” though but the Chinese Characters are there.
Google Maps and Baidu Maps
When I started looking, I didn’t use Google Maps to search. I didn’t know the chinese characters and the names on Google Maps are in Mandarin. If you search on Google Maps for Goo Hok古鹤 , it takes you right to the Village. There is a dam right next to it. You can find pictures of the village and roads. Apparently, Goo Hok (Ancient Crane) is a very old historical village, 800 years of history, and has been given status as a historical village.
In the 1900’s, the administrative districts have been changed since my ancestors came to Hawaii. Goo Hok Cheun, today, is now part of 三乡镇 (SanXiang Zhen: Mandarin) or Saam Hoeng Zan:Cantonese.
SanXiang is located at longitude 113 ° 26 ‘, latitude 22 ° 21’, in Zhongshan City, the southern border, east and southeast and Zhuhai Tangjiawan town at the junction, south of Tanzhou , west of Town God and Banfu , north of Wugui town border.
Goo Hok Cheun(GuHeCun) 古鹤 is the south west village of SanXiang.
If you search on SanXiang zhen on google maps, you will find it.
I FOUND IT
Goo Hok Cheun古鹤村 (GuHe Cun) is at 22.320467, 113.475264
If you search for Goo Hok, 古鹤, on Google Maps, then we find GuHeCun which is the mandarin pinyin romanization spelling. To my excitement, I found it!
Some stories/images from my adventure.
I have some things that I want to share that I found in my search for Goo Hok Cheun. These are pictures, images of the town and stories. I also found some historical facts on the village. These were in Chinese so I will have to reiterate these using Google Translate.
A visit to China by my brother
My brother took his family to China with friends that could speak Chinese and also knew friends in China that could help track down where the “Chang’s” came from. I believe that he was armed with the picture of my dad’s maternal grandmother’s tombstone. He also went with the words Goo Hok Cheun, Koong Seong Doo as well as Goon Tong which was just a picture of my grandmother’s mother tombstone. He also went with the knowledge that my grandfather and grandmother came from the same village which really came out to be that they came from the same County ChungShan or JoongShan.
My bother’s mother in law’s mother is a Chang. She knew she came from SanXiang (Mandarin)area. When my brother went thereto look for Chang, his guides ended up taking them to the Chang ancestral hall at Goo Hok Cheun. It was the Laan Hoi Zeng Gung Ci 澜海郑公祠 (Lan Hai Zheng Gongci). Chang 鄭 was used. A relative in Japan had donated money to build it. He did talk to elders here who talked about the lineage. He didn’t have Ah Gett Chang’s chinese name so he did not make headway here nor a family with three sisters and a son. It may be possible that my brother and his wife ancestors came for the same ‘Chang’ since they came from Goo Hok Cheun.
Pictures and images of Goo Hok Cheun
If you search on the village, they have pictures of the town. Also, tourist have posted pictures and blogs about the village.
Goo Hok Cheun has 800 Years of History. It is called Ancient Crane Village as a long time ago, a lot of cranes inhabited the mountains close to the village. Tourist attractions are of historical value. They are an ancient gatehouse, an old shrine, rare trees(old banyan tree), a bluestone road, old architecture, Zheng/Chang Shrine, a benevolent arch, flagpole stones and a dam. The bluestone street dates back to the Qing Dynasty.
Laan Hoi Zeng Gung Ci 澜海郑公祠 (Lan Hai Zheng Gongci)
This was built in the Qing Dynasty in 1847. It is the ancestral hall for Lan Cheng.The Pinyin for Chang is Zeng or Zheng. Cheng or Chang has the simplified chinese 郑 and the traditional chinese 鄭. My brother visited this hall and talked with the elders trying to figure out if we were descendants. They gave us a possible heritage line but my brother did not have the chinese names for our ancestors to verify. They have a Jiapu (家譜), a genealogy record or Zupu (族譜) which is a clan record. My grandmother and uncle had visited Goo Hok in the late 1920’s and recorded her 5 sons in the clan record/shrine. I don’t know if this is the clan record that they used. I didn’t recognize the chinese names that were given to my brother as a possible ancestry/heritage line. My aunty indicated that her name was not given and only 5 sons were written to the records. Ah Gett Chang had older 3 sisters. We didn’t see names that we could recognize in the scribbled notes that the elder gave to my brother. We would have to do more research here to discover if this place is our ancestral hall.
Family tree with uncle/sister that died at birth
Tree Details - FamilySearch.org
Discover your family history. Explore the world's largest collection of free family trees, genealogy records and…
In Family Search, the Church of Latter Day Saints has a source that provided information of my other Uncle and Aunty that died before they were 1. I don’t know where this source is. It could be that my Uncle Jack Chang had bought a epitaph for his brother and sister at the Cemetary that Ah Gett is buried. Bow Inn, a son, was born in 1909 and died in 1910. Dai Juk, a daughter, born and died in 1911. In this same record, they called out my grandmother’s name as Kim Pang Chock whose mother was Bin Sai and Father was Hin Chock. Ah Gett’s Father was Hin Chang and they only had his mother as ‘Goo’.
The interesting thing about this source is that it tells me the name of my great grandfather in China, Hin Chang. I don’t know if his wife is ‘Goo’ though. My Grandmothers parents were Bin Sai and Hin Chock. The only problem is that these are in English and I don’t have the chinese characters for their names.
Tombstones- with errors?
Going to the tombstones of my Grandmother and Grandfather, I have their picture here. In both of them, they list the village. Chang Ah Gett’s tombstone has Goo Hok Cheun 古鹤村 on the left side and Joong Sang 中山 縣
on the left. Goo doesn’t look right. It looks like “右鹤村” but I can not find this village so I am assuming that this is wrong. His name in chinese is Chang Mun Gett but we put Chang Ah Gett, his informal name.
My Grandmother had a different village but the village on her gravestone is for her husband. The chinese character for ‘Goo’ is correct. She came from Goon Tong Cheun 官塘村 ,Joong Sang In 中山 縣. This would make things confusing since my grandfather’s gravestone may have the wrong village.
Do I have Famous ancestors?…. maybe…
Zheng He (1371–1433 or 1435) 鄭和
My aunty would tell the story that her father Ah Gett would tell her. He was proud of his Chang ancesters and would tell them about a famous Chang in Taiwan and a famous mariner. Zheng He (1371–1433 or 1435), originally named Ma He, was a Hui court eunuch, mariner, explorer, diplomat, and fleet admiral during China’s early Ming dynasty. Zheng commanded expeditionary voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Western Asia, and East Africa from 1405 to 1433. His larger ships stretched 400 feet in length (Columbus’s Santa Maria, for comparison, was 85 feet). These carried hundreds of sailors on four tiers of decks. He adopted his brothers sons ..hence the ancestral line. He was theorized to discover the Americas before Christopher Columbus.
Zheng Chenggong Koxinga 鄭成功 1624–1662
Koxinga or Zheng Chenggong 鄭成功, was a famous person in Taiwan. A Ming loyalist and the chief commander of the Ming troops on the maritime front for the later emperors of the withering dynasty, Koxinga devoted the last 16 years of his life to resisting the conquest of China by the Manchus. Upon defeating the forces of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) on Formosa in his last campaign in 1661–1662, Koxinga took over the island in order to support his grand campaign against the Manchu-ruled Qing dynasty. After Koxinga’s death, his son and successor, Zheng Jing, gradually became the ruler of an independent Kingdom of Tungning, the first Chinese state to rule on the island.
Search on your own and use tools that I found
You can find a lot of information and pictures of Goo Hok. However, I would search using the chinese characters instead of the english names. Goo Hok would be spelt GuHe because of the Mandarin Pinyin Romanization. Chang has a simplified Character :郑 and you may see this instead 鄭 as I learnt it. Even this document mixes the mandarin and cantonese spelling..however, the chinese word stays the same. You can also use Google Translate or Baidu translate to translate what you find. You may find other stuff using Baidu Search.
Chock 卓, my paternal Grandmother
When I first searched for information about my grandmother’s ancestors, I fumbled around just like I did when I searched for Chang and Goo Hok Cheun. I knew her last name because she had brothers whose last name was ‘Chock’. We used to gather for Ching Ming with the Chock family and at my greatgrandmother’s gravesite. My GreatGrandfather died from injuries trying to save his house from burning because they were burning Chinatown in Honolulu because of the Bubonic Plague. Her mother is buried in the Chinese Cemetary in Mano’a valley in Honolulu, HI. I don’t remember if my Great Grandfather is here.
My Grandmother, Chock Pang, was setup by Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s brother to be married because they came from the same village. This didn’t work out because her mother was a widow. She was then set up with Ah Gett, who also was from the same village. When I first started looking, I had a little confusion because all of their ‘villages’ were different. Ah Gett came from Goo Hok Cheun and Dr. Sun Yat Sen came from CuiHeng (Choyhung), and Chock Pang came from a different village(Goon Tong). All of these villages belonged to the city of Joongsan or Zhongshan though so maybe this is what was meant by the same ‘village’… they came from the same city Zhongshan.
Chock Sai Shee and Chock Hinn
I know that there is a record for over 17 generations of the Chock family that an Aunt had in her possession. I found out that it is in records at Bishop Museum but I haven’t seen it although I saw it listed in an index. I went to look at my greatgrandmother’s tombstone. My Uncle had created Epitaphs for them at the Nuuanu Cemetary. Chock Hinn, my great Grandfather indicates Goon Tong as their village in Joong San. On my great grandmother’s tombstone, I see Goon Tong 官塘 (Guan Tang-mandarin)
When I went to the village Database, I see Kwun Tong (Goon Tong)Cheun官塘 村 (Guan Tang Cun), a village in Ha Chak Heung 下柵 , JoongSan(Zhongshan). The great thing is that surnames from this village is Cheuk or Chock 卓(Zhou), I also see that Sher or Sai 佘 is also part of this village. Sai is the maiden name of my greatgrandmother. I had to be careful as there was another ‘Guantang Village’ in Zhongshan but the chinese character’s were different. It looks like this village is made up of mostly Chock and Sai descendants. It was a fishing village. Recently, a elder of the village transcribed the Chock genealogy scroll that was 60 meters in length.
Village for Chock
Village村:官塘 Kwun Tong
Surname:卓,佘,李,陳,曾 Cheuk, Sher, Lee, Chan, Tsang
Heung 鄉: 下柵 Ha Chak(Xiazhacun): had 10 villages, one of which is Kwun Tong
Area 6: Had 3 Heungs, one of which is Ha Chak
Goon Tong Cheun (GuanTangCun) is now part of Zhuhai City. It is Guan Tang Cun, Xiangzhou Qu, Zhuhai Shi, Guangdong Sheng (Mandarin) on Google Maps. You can see Ha Chak village as it is spelt XiaZhaCun(Mandarin) which is the ‘Heung 鄉’ that Goon Tong belonged. Now they are part of Tanggiawanzhen(mandarin) which is part of Zhuhai City.
Zhou(Chock) Gongci 震山卓公祠
This ancestral hall is slated to be renovated. Goon Tong was a fishing village and Chock (Zhou) and Sai were surnames that live here. This may be my ancestral hall for Chock.
Built in 1856. Recently it has been named a historic building by Zhuhai city. It is in Xiangzhou District, Kwun Tong Community Tangjiawan town which is the same village as the Chock Gongci.
The original Sai move here in 1359 and has 21 generations here
This may be the ancestral hall for my great grandmother Chock Sai Shee. Her husband, a Chock, were married in China and looks to be from the same village, Goon Tong Cheun.
Images from Goon Tong Cheun 官塘村 or Goon Tong Town 官塘镇, 官塘位
I have had some success finding pictures and images from around the town. Goo Hok was easier since I found a personal blog of someone that took images. Goon Tong was a little difficult. There was another town in Joong Sang that had the same name with the pinyan romanization (Guan Tang). There are also other villages with the same name in other provinces-even Hong Kong has an area called Guan Tang. I did find something interesting though. A person with the last name ‘Chock’ (Zhou)that wrote/compiled a book of Goon Tong Village History. It has compiled pictures and stories of its history.
Sam Sing Wung- My Maternal Great Grandfather 翁
My mother’s name is Jean Wung Chang. Her Father was En Kong Wung and Mother Alicia Ching. Her Grandfather, my great grandfather, was Sam Sing Wung. His wife Loi Yu Wong was 20 years younger and came from Hong Kong. We have had huge Wung Family Reunions over the last 20 years. Our Wung family was even included in a Chinese Family Honolulu exhibit which included Bob Richardson, who was Lt. Governer of Hawaii and a Bishop Estate Trustee. Sam Sing Wung settled in Kohala, Hawaii and came from Kon Lan Hee, Kee Piang, KwonTung, China. My Grandmother, Alicia Ching’s family settled in Kauai. I don’t know from which village they came. After her mother and a sister passed away from plague, they move to Honolulu. Her father remarried and had other children.
Wung Sam Sing is buried in Kohala at Waianaia Cemetery. You can find a list of other relatives there. I believe that Lester, the oldest of En Leong Wung (oldest son of Sam Sing) made and put this here. On this tombstone were engraved:
Wung Sam Sing 1841–1895 Kon Lan Hi, Khi Pyan Kwon Tung, China
Wong Loi Yu 1861–1929 Hong Kong, China
There is no chinese on the tombstone. As he was Hakka, I am assuming that the pronunciation is ‘Hakka’.
The Wung Sam Sing Family of Kohala
My mother wrote a chapter called “The Wung Sam Sing Family of Kohala” by Jean Wung Chang 1981 that was published in the book “Chinese Historic Sites and Pioneer Families of the Island of Hawaii” University of Hawaii Press 1983.
She states that Sam Sing left Kon Larn Hee, KwanTung Province with Basel Missionaries to Hong Kong and then went to Hawaii about 1872 to work a 3 year contract at the sugar plantations in Kohala, Hawaii with the Reverend Elias Bond. The first chinese to come to Hawaii did so in 1852. My mother talks about him then working raising taro at Green Banks after his contract. My mother talks about him moving to Waipio/Green Banks. Green banks was a plantation run by a different plantation owner near Kohala so I don’t know if he really did move to Kohala. He also tended taro patches for Elias Bond.
About 1882, the Reverend Kong See Yin, Chinese Minister in Kohala, went to Hong Kong to seek a bride for Wung Sam Sing. At the Basel Mission School and Orphanage in Hong Kong, he found Wong Loi Yu, who then came to Hawaii through San Francisco to marry. I had found writings associated with the Reverend Bond talking about Reverend Kong going to Hong Kong and coming back between April-October 1883. So I expect that Wong Loi Yu came to Hawaii in 1883.
It was a little hard to track down Kon Lan Hi, Khi Pyan. This is more than likely Hakka and how Sam Sing’s grandson remembered how to pronounce it. Map villages, etc are in spelt with the Mandarin pronunciations. Chinese from Hawaii were mostly Cantonese speaking.
My mom had a German Map where you could see Kon . She had a family friend that described Kon Lan Hi, Khi Pyan but he called it Kon Lan Hee Pang, a market, as you see in the map below. This didn’t help much until I found a map through a chinese ancestry site for Jamaican Chinese from someone in Canada. I also found a map where you see Kon Lan Hii. It is an italian map from 1866. I don’t see Khi Pyan.
This is an older 1866 map that shows Kon Lan Hii in the upper left quadrant.
This map of Hakka villages. I have not seen the full book but the map from this book showed what I needed. You see Kee Piang (Qi Ping) in the upper left Quadrant next to the Mission Hills Golf Coarse). You also see Gon Lan (Guan Lan). If you look at the characters
觀 瀾 墟 , 企坪
Mandarin would pronunciate it like
Guan Lan xū, Qi Ping (Mandarin)
Gun Laan Heoi, Kei Ping (cantonese)
Hakka would be Gon Lan Hii, Kee Piang.
I believe that this is our village. Close enough to how EL Wung wrote it on his tombstone. Hii is a ‘market’. I believe that this map spelt the villages like it was pronounced in Hakka.
A lot of Cantonese and Hakka settled in Jamaica. I found another tool where a person had mapped out the Hakka villages at https://mapalist.com/map/414030
Kon Lan Hee is in Shenzhen City 深圳市. I think that it may have been part of Dongguan City 东莞 市 before- in between Dongguan and Shenzhen City (which is close to Hong Kong). Today it is part of Shenzhen City in the Bao’an District 宝安区, Longhua new subdistrict 龙华新区. GuanLan subdistrict 观澜街道
In Google maps: Kee Piang, 企坪 (The spelling in Google Maps is Mandarin). It is at 22.7478492,114.0470862
Mission Hills Golf Club
Kee Piang or QiPing is situated right in the middle of a famous golf coarse resort. Mission Hills Shenzhen is a twelve course 18-hole course golf resort, located in the town of Guanlan in Shenzhen, between the cities of Shenzhen and Dongguan. It is accredited as the world’s largest golf facility by the Guinness World Records in 2004, surpassing the Pinehurst Resort in the United States. It currently has 11 championship courses and an 18-hole par three course, each designed by a different golf personality.
Images of a Hakka Village in Guan Lan (Kon Lan)
The internet is great. Now you can find pictures of the town or from the town if you look in the right places. You can see the satellite view of the town on Google Earth. I found these pictures that a person posted on Flicker or Picassa of Guan Lan Hakka Village. It actually is a old Hakka Market, which Kon Lan Hee is. It is historically preserved.
Google Earth view of Kee Piang (QiPing) shows it is quite industrial but has a golf resort next to it. It also has a river.
Alicia Ching, my maternal Grandmother
My mother’s mother was Alicia Nee Keau Ching. She was born on Kauai. Her Father Sang Ching was born on Kauai in 1878. His parents were from China and he had siblings that were born in China. Her mother (Kong She) and sister had died because of Smallpox or the plague. Her father moved the family to Honolulu where he remarried and had children from this marriage.
I remember my Uncle, David Ching, who was single and had a Lichee farm in Hilo. He was the oldest. Frank Ching was the youngest brother, married and raised a Daughter Eunice in Honolulu. My grandmother had step-sisters whose children ran a hawaiian food market at the original Ward Farmer’s Market in Honolulu. My mother doesn’t remember much about her mother’s heritage so I have limited information here.
The interesting thing here is that since her father was born on Kauai, he was 2nd Generation… which makes me 5th generation Chinese in Hawaii. I was baptized Protestant probably because of my mother’s grandfather who came to Hawaii with the help of the German Basel Protestant Missionaries.
I don’t know the chinese character of Ching. A first look listed about 13 different characters for the romanization ‘Ching’ surname. Maybe I’ll have to ask my other relatives about this. My cousin Eunice (who married a Wong) may be a good start. The journey continues.
In my journey, I found some tools that were invaluable and interesting.
This is where one can see their romanized names and perhaps thier Chinese name. Their village may also be inscribed. However, it would be the village of the husband. i.e. my grandmother would have the village of her husband.
- Ancestry.com and Familysearch.com
I didn’t subscribe to Ancestry.com. I did find some ship manifests post 1900 on familysearch.com. I have to look or pay for to researching ship manifests pre 1900. You can find ‘index card copy of chinese who emmigrated to san francisco. I paid for Ancestry.com but didn’t find records such as ship manifests. Maybe someone will be better.
- Jamaica website http://cbajamaica.com. They listed Hakka villages here. They also have a database for chinese buried there. They came from the same area so they have the same surnames here. 290 Hakka Villages by CBA Jamaica. For further info: http://cbajamaica.com
- cantonese and mandarin translation sites. http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk
I would use the radicals to try and figure out the characters or try to figure out the chinese word from the pinyin or jyutping spelling.
- Chinese Genealogy forum http://siyigenealogy.proboards.com/
I found a lot of resources here including references and people that will help you. One guy even gave a description and History of ‘Chang’.
6. List of links for online Genealogy records: https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Hawaii_Online_Genealogy_Records
this is a good for where to look for records and to help you with your research.
7. Historical Maps at University of Texas: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/ams/china/
Maps of historical Asia, World War II maps, Asia Pacific Theater and CHina Maps.
University of Texas Maps circa 1954
8. Roots Database
This was/is a database of villages in China where students went back to visit their villages. They then added the village to a database along with their surname. The database was hosted at Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco but the site is down at this time.
Chinese cultural center of San Francisco and In Search of roots village database www.c-c-c.org. They use to host the roots village database.
In Search of Roots Village Database
The Roots Village Database consists data of various villages in Guangdong Province, China, where are the ancestral…
Village database mapped on Google Maps.
This is a site where it plots villages where ‘students’ have gone back to China to visit their home village. They then plotted the village.
9. Family names: List of surnames with associated chinese characters.
10. Wai Jane Char Documents and books
One that was usefule is “Geography of Kwangtung Province for Hawaii Residents”; Wai Jane Char & Francis H. Woo, Hawaii Chinese Visiter center 1981
11. Roots database
This is a database of village before the roots database at rootsdb.org.
I found Goo Hok and the town here.
12. Hakka Villages: This maps the Hakka villages. This helped me find my mother’s grandfather’s village.
13. Google Maps/Baidu Maps/Bing Maps
I would use this to find your village. Note that the maps both have Pinyin and chinese characters, usually simplified chinese. It is best to search the chinese characters.. simplified. Our ancestors more than likely used traditional chinese.