My Mom's Ancestors
and the Family
My Mom's Ancestors and the Family History Book: 黃端本堂家譜
( "huang-duan-ben-tang jia-pu" )
Please be patient. This page might take a while to completely show up on your monitor.
Let's take a look at some old pictures first.
Below: My parents in their younger days. At my mother's house. The time was mid 1950's. My dad, the young man in the picture with the Rolls Royce, (See: My Father and Family Scholarship: Part Two) returned to his hometown in Taiwan a few years after the end of WWII to meet his fiancée, my mom.
My grandfather on my mom's side ( see picture in the frame on top right corner ) had passed away at the age of 50, when Mom was 17 years old.
For many decades Mom had thought her father died of heart disease. She was not told until much, much later - in 1995 - that Grandfather was actually arrested by the KMT government with the accusation of being a traitor. According to those that had been through the same nightmare, Grandfather was badly tortured while in custody. As a result, he was severely ill and soon passed away in 1949, leaving behind a wife of poor health, a fifteen-year-old only son, and many daughters. Mom was studying in another city and lived in a dorm far away from her home in Taichung. No one dared to tell her the truth.
What my Grandfather did was to organize a self-defense group in his community to protect the villagers from the KMT soldiers' "indiscriminate killing and looting".
For your info, Chiang Kai-shek's KMT government took over the island of Taiwan after the Japanese had been defeated in the WWII. It should have been a rejoycing historical moment for the Taiwanese after 50 years' of separation. Unfortunately in reality, the locals witnessed an even worse exploitation by those that were from the motherland of China. First of all, many of the soldiers from the mainland were of horrible discipline, so horrible that the Taiwanese started to "miss" the "good old days" when they had been under the Japanese control. Isn't it pathetic? And over the years such nostalgia did not completely disappear! You might want to ask how I knew this. Well, I knew because I spent more than ten years living in Taiwan!
In the days of White Terror the grown-ups always warned the children, "囝仔人有耳無嘴" (Ginna-lang oo hee-ya bo-cui ). Meaning: "Children have only ears and no mouths". For many decades the Taiwanese dared not discuss politics in public. It was still true in the years I stayed in Taiwan from 1970 to 1980. We did not have any words in our textbooks that mentioned the infamous 228 Incident that had affected so many families including my mom's.
Freedom of speech was rather recent for them. The Incident was recognized by the government only very lately - probably around mid 90's. I guess they have not adjusted themselves well for this freedom yet, that is why we sometimes see the news of the angry Taiwanese senators and MPs losing control of their temper punching, kicking, spitting at, and even biting one another outrageously in their Parliament.
Not long ago I googled Chinese websites for 228 Incident and was surprised and sad to see 黃伯虎 (Huang Bo-hu), my Grandfather's name, among the victims of the 228 Massacre. The website: http://www.228.org.tw/history228_area.php?id=48.
Although the article said in the chaotic days he was able to quickly gathered the villagers to form a self-defense team, Grandfather was not a politician. To Mom and her siblings he was a businessman. A very successful one, said Mom, and a born leader.
Grandfather was a lumber business owner. To this day my uncle, who is the only son of Grandfather, still keeps some huge and beautiful wood products that were passed down to him.
Grandfather also left behind hundreds of group photos. In almost all the photos he was the most prominent figure in the group. Too bad I could not show any cool samples here as those old and heavy albums are kept at my uncle's house in Taiwan. Uncle and his wife, my "a-kim" (舅媽) are like my parents. They took great care of me during the years that I went to school in Taiwan away from my dad and mom in Thailand.
See the only "group" photo that I have:
In case you wonder why they all dressed like Japanese:
The island of Taiwan was given to Japan in 1895 by the weakening Qing Dynasty.
See Wikipedia : Japanese Invasion of Taiwan (1895).
By the time this photo was taken, the people on the island of Taiwan had lived under the Japanese occupation for almost half a century - needless to say, under discrimination and heavy exploitation - although they would not have gotten any better off with the extremely corrupted Qing government.
With the Japanese occupation, the official language in Taiwan changed from Chinese to Japanese, but the language spoken at home was still Taiwanese. The Japanese language and its culture was taught at school. Many houses were of Japanese style. The children grew up feeling themselves almost like the Japanese - except that the "real" Japanese from Japan were more privileged in many aspects, including a better chance to get to a good university.
My mother was too young to feel this racial discrimination, but my father, who is ten years older than she, clearly remembered how he and his Taiwanese classmates had been badly treated by their Japanese teachers at school simply because they were the "locals".
On the other hand, towards the end of WWII, the Japanese started to conscribe the Taiwanese youth, both male and female: the males to fight and die "an honorary death" for the Japanese Emperor, the females to "serve" in the army, namely, to become their sex slaves.
Grandfather prevented the tragedies from happening on his older daughters by marrying them to good local young men. My mom was still a little child and was not in any "danger" of this sort. All my aunts have had good married life. Thanks to Grandfather's wise "decision"!
Decades of such exploitation during the Japanese occupation made those of the learned older generation in Taiwan determined to do their best to preserve their ancestors' language and cultural value. They taught Chinese to their children so as to let them keep some dignity and self-esteem. After all, China had been a much, much stronger country with richer cultural heritage than the barbaric "Wokou (倭寇)".
Sorry if what I wrote here sounded unpleasantly racist. I just reflected the general feelings of the local people in those days. If you had been them, who knows, you might have said something even more nastier!
Below: The Huangs' Family History Book, "黃端本堂家譜" (huang-duan-ben-tang jia-pu).
The book was about the ancestors on my mother's side.
It contained the works written, edited, and compiled by my "Sah jeg-ghong" (三叔公, or "Grand Uncle No. 3"; his names: 伯鸞公 or 黄式鴻 -- Bo-luan ghong or Huang Shi-hong; 1901-1980), his younger brother, my "Xi jeg-ghong" (四叔公, or "Grand Uncle No. 4"; his name: 黄仲圖 -- Huang Zhong-tu), and their father, 廷幹公 or 黃錫三 (Ting-gan ghong or Huang Xi-san; 1868-1929).
The 3 pictures: Left:
Sah jeg-ghong's father,
top-right: Sah jeg-ghong,
bottom-right: Un-teg gu.
In February 1981, a year after Sah jeg-ghong's death, his second son, Huang Yun-zhe (黄允哲), whom I call "Un-teg gu" (允哲舅 or "Uncle Un-teg"), with the help of other Grand Uncles and relatives, put all the writings together to a book to commemorate his late father.
A surprise: not long ago I googled this "黃端本堂家譜" (The Family Book of the Righteous Huangs) and found it among the collection of the national literary heritage! There was an authoritative review of the book and there were a few websites that copy-pasted the entire review. Wow!
I used to live with Sah jeg-ghong's family during the first few months after I had moved from my uncle's house in Taichung to Taipei in order to go to a girls' high school in that city. During that time almost all of Sah jeg-ghong's sons were already working in other cities or countries and did not stay with their parents. I remembered that Un-teg gu and his beautiful wife were in Congo, Africa.
For a long time I had thought that these jeg-ghong or 叔公 ("Grand Uncles") were my Grandfather's siblings that came from the same parents. However, upon closer study of the family history book, I found that although the numbers ran, some of them were not siblings, but were cousins who shared the same grandparents.
I am not used to the correct way of addressing them as "(a few times removed) cousins". To me, they were my jeg-ghong, which, in Taiwanese, means younger siblings of my a-ghong or 阿公( "Grandpa").
I call jeg-ghong's male children "a-gu" (阿舅), which means mother's male siblings. As for jeg-ghong's female children, I call them "a-ee" (阿姨 ). The two words literally mean "Uncle" and "Aunt".
Left: The ancestors on my mom's side
(huang-duan-ben-tang), which was the name of the house that they built and lived. I had visited this house a couple of times when I was in Taiwan.
The book said in the year 1783 the first generation of the Huang Family, 鼎公 or 和睦公 (Ding -ghong or Homu - ghong; 1732 - 1806) came with his two sons to Taiwan from Fujian province in China.
His older son, 泮水公 ( Pan-shui ghong; 1769 - 1836 ), who was the second generation, had 4 sons and a daughter. Pan-shui ghong's son, 仁哲公 (Ren-zhe ghong; 1816 - 1864), who was the third male child among the third generation, also had 4 sons and a daughter.
The oldest of the fourth generation, Ren-zhe ghong's oldest son, 時中公 or 敦厚公 (Shi-zhong ghong or Dun-hou ghong; 1839 - 1890), had two wives. The first wife had two sons and she died young. The second wife had 4 sons and 2 daughters.
In the year 1896, which was a year after the Japanese had "usurped" the island of Taiwan, the four males of the fifth generation -- excluding the oldest and the youngest ones who had died young -- moved back to what is now the township of 鹿谷(Log-gog in Taiwanese or Lugu in Mandarin), which was at the foot of the mountainous region near central Taiwan. It was the area their forefathers had stayed till the year 1877. With the help of the relatives who had remained there they built a traditional Chinese 匚-shaped courtyard wooden house and named it "黃端本堂" (Huang-duan-ben-tang) or "The House of the Righteous Huangs" (my own translation).
I found an article in Chinese that explained how the people in the past named their houses. I will explore it later.
This is the website: http://www.cjb2008.com/bbs/simple/index.php?t566.html.
( Remarks: Google translation of this article into English was AWFUL and it did not make much sense! )
The youngest of the four males, 廷琪公 (Ting-qi ghong; 1873-1900), was my Great Grandfather. The book said he was a learned man and was humble. Unfortunately Ting-qi ghong was not very healthy and had no children of his own. Great Grandfather died young, leaving behind a very young wife. My grandfather was an adopted child. I doubt if my mom ever knew who his biological parents were. She told me they said he was the son of some mediums, and was very smart since little. One thing was certain: Grandfather had spent his childhood years in the House of Huang Duan Ben. I believe he had also learned Chinese from his "Uncles", who had done their best in those days to preserve the Chinese cultural heritage.
I noticed a tendency in the records of this family history book: if a male sibling in a family did not have a child, especially a male child, then the oldest brother would let him "adopt" his second son to continue the family lineage. If the heir of the family died too young, the immediate younger brother would become the heir. This could be seen in the Huang Duan-ben Family History Book from the third generation on. My Great Grandfather, 廷琪公 (Ting-qi ghong), who was the fifth male in the clan, was made the heir of his Uncle No. 3， 德元公 (De-yuan ghong; 1852-1876), the second generation's third son. De-yuan ghong had only one daughter and no male children. Another example: my Great Grandfather's "Brother" No. 2, 廷翰公 (Ting-han ghong; 1864-1964), was made the heir of his Uncle No. 2， 可愛公 (Ke-ai ghong; 1844-1859), who had no family of his own.
Info on the part of the females or the wives that married to this family, or the daughters that were married and moved to their husbands' was very limited. Women were clearly far from being equal to men in those days. I am thinking of writing more about the women in the next part. I am also thinking of using excel table to make a genealogical tree....
Some pages from the Book with my notes:
Comments from my MTP (journal item no. 341)