Chan Surname SIG

Chan China Roots Journal

This journal chronicles the trek made to:

  • Chan Family Heritage Village Temple where I put my grandfather’s name on the temple walls and secured the Chan Zupu for Guangdong
  • Tomb and Memorial of Chen Feng Tai, the Chen progenitor in Guangdong
  • Chen Mo Temple, the eldest son of Chan Feng Tai the progenitor of the Toishan and Chungshan region.
  • Mil Til, the Chan ancestral village to secure my jiapu as the first emissary from America in 117 years

This can also be used as an example of documenting your family history using techniques like photo layering, word wrapping, tables to create photo montages and more.

Photos: Chen Feng Tai – Chen Guangzhou Progenitor and his 7 Sons

From Chen historian, Gene Chin, from his presentation, “Chen Genealogy and Lineage”.

If your Chen family had its roots in Guangdong, it is likely you are descended from one of the seven sons of Chen Feng Tai. Once you can establish your village linage, sometimes through the generational poem to one of Feng Tai’s seven sons, then you have linkage to his father that is clearly documented to Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor … the first emperor of China.

Characters: Chan Surname – Traditional, Ancient and Stylized

Chen History Synopsis

With thanks to John Jue with for this contribution.

Chen is comprised of two Chinese word characters. The left radical represents an “ear;” while the right radical is a word for “east.” When the two radicals are combined to form our surname, it may be interpreted as “Listening to the East.”

Our roots were planted in the Far East in the land called “Middle Kingdom.” Shundi, who was the nine generation descendant of Huangdi, was the seminal primogenitor. The Kingdom of Chen was established by Chen Hugong in the inaugural years of the Zhou Dynasty. In a span of nearly seven hundred fifty years, the Chen clan grew during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese History. Confucius lived in the Kingdom of Chen as recorded in the classical text: Records of the Grand Historian.

A local Han Dynasty magistrate, Chen Shi, stood out as a “Beacon.” He served as a benchmark common ancestor for genealogy tracking. His direct lineal descendants were highly accomplished individuals. Some were advisers to Cao-Cao during the “Three Kingdom” turmoil. Others were military generals to Cao-Cao’s successors. Chen Shi is highly respected among Chen’s in China, Taiwan, and United States as well as other countries. The Chen Dynasty was established during the Southern and
Northern Dynasties period. It lasted a brief 32 years before the Golden Age of the Tang Dynasty. We
could not corroborate that our lineage included the second and third emperor, despite claims to the

A northern military-governor was exiled to Southern China in the Soong Dynasty. Chen Hu and his entourage crossed over the Yangtze River to Fujian. His descendant, Chen Wen, settled down as the primogenitor of Guangdong Chen’s. Three generations later, Chen Hui, who had seven sons, all migrated to different locations in the southern region called Guzhou; and the clan settled in an area of what is now Taishan.

The seven brothers were considered genealogic benchmarks for the Guangdong Chen’s. They were, as follows: Mo, Xuan, Ying, Kai, Run, Tu, and Ren. The four older sons held the equivalent of a doctoral degree as “Jinshi” by passing the imperial examination. We are descendants of one of these Chen brothers.


9 thoughts on “Chan Surname SIG”

  1. Hi Barbara,
    I personally cannot answer your question, but I know four people that may be able to shed some light.

    To help with research, what is your end goal with the is information? Can you elaborate with any more details on your question?

    Thanks you!

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed reading through this website and the Journal of your pilgrimage back Guangdong, China. It really does give me hope that I will be able to find my own missing Chinese link. Great work!

  3. Greetings. I am a 32nd generation descendant of Chen Feng Tai with roots from Huangcun Village, Taishan. Our Chan family was instrumental in preserving the Chinese Temple in Oroville, CA which includes the Chin Suey Sing Bak (Chen Zhongzhen)Temple. I really enjoyed reading your informative Chan Roots Journal. Great presentation. Hope to personally visit Huangcun someday.

    Can you tell me how to obtain a copy of Gene Chin’s Chen Genealogy and Lineage. I’m working on a Chan history project for my family.

    Thanks. Look forward to hearing from you.

    • Hi Kenneth

      I have the presentation Gene Chin shared with me regarding Chan genealogy. Prior to the pandemic, I ran the Chan surname special interest group and had the honor to present it. Some of Gene’s content is on this thread. A couple of things I can email to you are:

      1. Chan Family history charts (four scrolls) that Henry Tom showed us at the 2017 Chinese Genealogy Workshop going back to the Yellow Emperor. Because of the jaipu found detailed in my “China Roots Journal”, I was able to go back 27 generations to the third son of the Chan progenitor in Guangdong. Once you trace your linage back to this generation, the progenitors linage is well documented going back to over 2000 years BC.

      2. I designed my own Chan lineage chart on one page going from today, back to the Yellow Emperor.

      I’ll email you details. Thanks for your interest and support of the Bay Area Chinese Genealogy Group.

      Be well.


      • Hi Ron,
        Thank you for responding so quickly. It would be tremendous if you are able e-mail me the information. If the information given to me by my cousin and uncle is correct, I am descended from Chen Feng Tai’s first son Mo and my cousin from third son Ying so we may share some of the same roots. The generation count provided by my uncle may be off. Is there a way to access Gene’s content?
        Thanks for taking the time and effort to share the precious (and difficult to find) information. My family and I really appreciate it.

  4. Hi Ron

    Thank you so much for sharing your journal of your trip to China. I do find it both interesting and useful.

    I am a descendant of Chan Xuan (generation 1), a piece of information I got when I visited China in 2019, the second son of Chen Feng Tai. However because I do not have a family Zupu, I am from 1 of 4 lines of descendants from the 4th generation onwards that settled in my ancestral village of Shi Tou Cun. Missing for me is the 4th to 21st generation of my family. My questions are, do the genealogy books you bought in Nanxiong contain this linkage that I seek and, what info do they contain? My next trip to China, when situation allows, would be to Nanxiong/ Mei Guan.


  5. Hi Choi

    As I noted in an earlier post, I have four scrolls that trace Chan lineage from Guangdong back to the Yellow Emperor going back over 4000 years from Henry Tom. Henry is having a Chinese Genealogy Workshop, Jan 4 – 6, 2022. I posted details of this Conference on the BACGG site, you can find info here …


    At this conference you can perhaps get the resolution / direction you need from Henry, or at the roundtables where they have at least three subject matter experts on Chinese genealogy who read and write Chinese.

    Getting back to the Chan scrolls, if you can trace your linage to one of the seven sons of Chen Feng Tai, the Chan progenitor of Guangdong, Chen Feng Tai’s linage is very well documents back to Huangdi. That I can share. The trick is, to determine which of the seven son’s you derive and trace back to your specific family.

    The two books (zupu’s) I picked up follow Chan linage for all of Guangdong are very general, so probably does not have the resolution you need. But it may be worth a shot. Do you read Chinese?

    Let’s take this offline, and I can send you some material that may help in your research. Send a message, addressed to me, Ron Chan, at with a copy of our conversation and we can dig a little deeper 1 on 1.

    Best for the holidays,



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