An example of tracing a Gin family line

By way of example and as an encouragement to other Gin Family members interested in family history, we share with readers the journey of the Chin family of Melbourne in tracing its family line.  It took a number of enjoyable years for us to complete the project.  Perhaps the reward is we are honoured to find a direct link to Gin Sun Hall, our Ancestor who came from the Central Plain of China, to the Pearl River Delta located in Southern China in what is now the Guangdong Province.   In fact the researcher is the 27th generation after Gin Sun Hall.

For clarity and to demonstrate the methodology of tracking down a family line, we take a deliberate step-by-step approach.  This research was conducted by the Chinese Heritage Interest Network (CHIN) based in Melbourne in the State of Victoria, Australia.   As a side note, Victoria was and remains to be known by serious Chinese Heritage researchers as the "New Gold Mountain" ( 新金山 ). The original "Old Gold Mountain" ( 舊金山 ) is of course California, the USA.    In our journey of research, we were able to track down numerous Gin pioneers who went from the Siyi ( 四邑 ) Region, to Victoria, and contributed to the developments of the New Gold Mountain (1850 to 1901 and beyond).  For more information you are welcome to visit the CHIN Home Page.

Let the story be told  by the researcher, Mun Chin, with the reader's indulgence, in the first person ...

  1. In my younger years I was fortunate enough to be given a number of what I would consider now as heritage documents from my father.  It was written in Traditional Chinese -- fortunately something I learned as a child, and now relearning the language, as well as Simplified Chinese.  The documents included maps of my father's ancestral home and names of our forebears Generations 1 to 26.
  2. Armed with the hand-written script my challenge was to verify and locate the villages, towns, counties mentioned in the documents.   Not having been to the Ancestral Home and not having direct links with living relatives from the village, that was a real challenge.
  3. The real breakthrough came when in 1999 I holidayed in San Francisco, chanced seeing the "Gin Sun Hall Benevolent Association" (甄舜河堂) located at 747 Clay Street.  The folks there were most helpful and a particular old gentleman even knew my grandfather who worked in the United States during the early 1940s to late 1950s. I managed to source some research material which further advanced my research.
  4. The final breakthrough was when I attended the First World Gin Conference at Kaiping (開平), obtained great deal of information relating to the Surname, Gin (), paid homage to our ancestor, Gin Sun Hall (甄舜河) at his grave, followed by a visit to my Ancestral Home at Shek Hoi Heung (石海鄉) , Tung Num Shing (東南盛村), simply referred to by the locals as Shek Hoi, Tung Num Shing.  Importantly I obtained a copy of the 石海氏家譜,literally translated as the "Shek Hoi Gin Clan Family Register".
  5. Having the Family Register was great.  However the register was compiled using Simplified Chinese.   So there is still the challenge of relating the Simplified Chinese words with Traditional Chinese words.
  6. I started off with locating my father's Married Name/ Generation Name ()(廷本) on the Register.  Take note that Chinese of the older generation (including myself) have at least two names, sometimes more. (For more information on Chinese names, visit sites such as the Chinese Heritage Interest Network).   A person's legal name may not appear on the Register -- it is usually the Married Name conferred to the person by the Elders of the family or clan.
  7. Once the Married Name was located in the Clan Register, it became a methodical Trace Back. We display the start of a Trace Back page 84 below.   Note though, there may be gaps in the Register (i.e. missing records) or missing records from your private collection.   Thus to find the continuity, it does require careful search, sometime page by page.
  8. We also attach the entire list of the Chin Family of Melbourne, Family Line from Generation 1 to Generation 29, complete with working notes.

The exhilaration of a completed Family Line Chart is something only experienced by those enthusiasts in search of roots.  Others may view them as eccentrics or words much stronger (such as "nuts" ?).   But no matter, it is your life and your heritage.


Enjoy the challenge.


Example of Trace Back of the Gin Clan Family Register relating to the Chin Family of Melbourne

Start of the page where we located the Generation Name ()of my father, (廷本), my grandfather (明策) and other venerable names that were always listed on the Family Alter, viz. 墀興,吉泮...


Chin Family of Melbourne: Family Line Table

Generation Recorded Number of siblings House number 廣東 石海甄氏家譜 (卷二第三分册) Page Generation Name Simplified 1 Simplified 2 Traditional 1 Traditional 2 Cantonese 1 Cantonese 2 English Def. Word 1 English Def. Word 2
1 1 1 30   seun3 ho4 legendary ruler river; stream; yellow river
2 1 1 30   sai3 mau6 generation; world; era thick, lush, dense; talented
3 2 1 30   dak1 gu3 ethics, morality, virtue become solid, solidify; strength
4 2 2 30   si6 daat4 official; serve government arrive at, reach; intelligent; smooth, slippery
5 3 1 30   lin4 saan1 join, connect; continuous; even mountain, hill, peak
6 4 1 30/32   gwan1 yeung4 elder brother; descendants good luck, good omen; happiness
7 1 1 32   hak1 gung1 gram; overcome; transliteration respectful, polite, reverent
8 1 1 32   ji sin6 accumulate, store up, amass good, virtuous, charitable, kind
9 4 1 32   jung1 yu6 loyalty, devotion, fidelity relaxed, comfortable, at ease
10 3 1 32/34   ging2 yeung4 scenery, view; conditions "male" principle; light; sun
11 5 5 34   chyun4 seun4 exist, live, be; survive; remain trust, believe; letter
12 2 2 34   sai3 mei4 generation; world; era beautiful, pretty; pleasing
13 2 2 34   waa4 ngon flowery; illustrious; Chinese peaceful, tranquil, quiet
14 1 1 34/74   怀 waai4 sing3 bosom, breast; carry in bosom holy, sacred
15 2 1 74 hak1 ho2 yi6 may, can, -able; possibly right conduct, righteousness
16 3 2 74 siu6 jeuk3 continue, carry on; hand down; to join feudal title or rank
17 2 1 74 sing3 si6 holy, sacred; sage official; serve government
18 3 1 74/77 yin4 gei2 gei3 virtuous, worthy, good; able record, annal,historical account
?         hok6 sin6 learning, knowledge; school envy, admire; praise; covet
19 3 ? 1 & 2 77 hok6 jik6 learning, knowledge; school to unravel or unreel silk; to interpret, explain
20 4 4 77 man4 chou1 literature, culture, writing conduct, run, control, manage
21 1 1 77 jeung1 hap6 composition; chapter, section spread, disseminate; agreeable
22 3 3 77/84 seui1 wing5 soothe, appease, pacify; carriage harness long, perpetual, eternal, forever
23 1 1 84 gat1 pun3 lucky, propitious, good Zhou dynasty school; disperse; fall apart
24 1 1 84 chi4 hing1 hing3 porch; courtyard; steps leading thrive, prosper, flourish
25 2 1 84 ming4 chaak3 bright, light, brilliant; clear scheme, plan; whip; urge
26 5 1 84/98   dau2 naam4 Chinese peck; liquid measure south; southern part; southward
        ting pun2 court root, origin, source; basis
27 1       yu4 man4 if, supposing; as if; like, as literature, culture, writing
28 1     wai5 yip6 great, robust; extraordinary profession, business, trade
29       wan6 lung4 luck, fortune; ship, transport dragon; symbolic of emperor