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A Bit of My Family Genealogy

Updated on February 20, 2018
jackclee lm profile image

Jack is currently a volunteer at the Westchester County Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years.


Growing up in Taiwan for the first 10 years of my life, I knew very little about my ancestors. My mother would take us to visit some of her relatives that lived far from Taipei, usually on holidays and special occasions. The only thing I remembered was that they speak with funny accents and they have many servants and the house was a mansion in the countryside. They also have an automobile with a chauffer. I knew they were wealthy but didn’t understand how or why.

- Dec. 25, 2017


It was many years later that I learned who the man of the house was. He was an important General in the KMT regime of President Chiang Kai Chiek. As it turned out, my mother’s aunt was married to Yu Hanmou. She was his first of three wives. In those days, in China, a person of wealth and position are allowed to have multiply wives. The first wife is the most important and the head of the family. She was the matriarch. She always treated my mother and my brother and I well. On trips overseas, she would bring back giant blocks of chocolate for us to eat. She also was the source of funds that my father borrowed to come to the US to study his masters. She was our benefactor. My father studied and worked hard and paid back every dollar but it was her generosity that allowed this to happen. I only learned about General Yu’s accomplishments recently. He passed away in 1981 at age 85. Here is the wikipedia entry on his life. He was originally from Guangdong province and spoke Cantonese. That was the funny accent I heard.

An Encounter with Ernest Hemingway

Another Famous Relative

As it turned out, he was not the only famous general on my mother’s side of the family. Another uncle of my mom, was also a high ranking general. His name is Shangguan Yunxiang. He was a Kuomintang general from Shanghe County, Shandong. He passed away in 1969 at the age of 74. His accomplishments are documented on wikipedia.

© 2017 Jack Lee


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    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      12 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Jay, thanks for checking in. This multi-wives phenomemnon is not new. As in the old testament of the Bible, it was common practice. In the Chinese case, the first wife holds special place and is usually in charge of all domestic affairs. Even the children of the other wives have to call her “mother” while their own biological mother is called an “aunt”. As might expected, this has led to much strife in the household.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 

      12 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      "In those days, in China, a person of wealth and position are allowed to have multiply wives."

      Very interesting. I know a Muslim man in the US who has several "wives" according to Islamic rules, he just doesn't call them wives. Having multiple wives (should you want to do so) is just a matter of convincing the women it is OK.

      I would like to see Humanity move away from being Warriors to becoming Peace Officers. The difference is: Warriors plan on killing people in advance whereas Peace Officers plan to arrest without harm and without an intent to kill.

      Learn to Love Humanity more than your country because Human life is sacred.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      13 months ago from Norfolk, England

      It sounds like you come from a really interesting heritage. I love doing my geneology. It's so interesting to find out who your ancestors are.


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