A Nan Yue female warrior from the 6th century, perhaps little known until the article. Yes, very interesting. Another point that I think I mentioned previously, another cousin of my father was definitely a Sien by surname. I figured, as Fay Chee mentioned, that a clerk dropped the "i" by mistake so the name changed for my father. Please advise laohuaqiao, if you have heard of Sien as a more common name or is it just a variation of Sen/Sin/Xian?
Thanks Laohuaqiao, I noticed that the address that Choy Sen listed in the NYChinese Exclusion Act File was 13 Pell St, and then saw that it was the same address as the first Chinese Benevolent Society in 1900 before they moved to Mott St.
Perhaps he had a mailbox there or the building was converted to rental units after the relocation.
"The Lin Sing Association was established in 1900. Initially, the association rented the top floor of 13 Pell Street, Chinatown, New York as their headquarters. On June 26, 1925, after raising over 70,000 dollars, the association purchased 45-49 Mott Street and moved its headquarters to its current location in 47-49 Mott Street".
Hi twoupman, when I was doing research on Ancestry.com, I found that the surname Sen and Sin were both used by the same families.
Mara made this comment: "Love reading the siyi site. Found House of Chinn, which you might be familiar with. At the very bottom of names lists (in the first learning section) it has the name Cen. Is that possibly Sen, since Sen is not listed?"
Yes, I did see that on my first visit to "House of Chinn"and his site gives so much info- however, I don't know enough to even know. I hope laohuaqiao will comment on this. Thank you for pointing this out twoupman!
Yes, I did see that on my first visit to "House of Chinn"and his site gives so much info- however, I don't know enough to even know. I hope laohuaqiao will comment on this. Thank you for pointing this out twoupman (re your post:Could it be this surname Sin (冼) in Cantonese or Xian in Mandarin? twoupman houseofchinn.com)
I'm new to this whole Chinese family genealogy thing as well, only just recently really started to get into researching my family. I noticed that someone found the Chinese Exclusion Act database info for msen's grandfather, Choy Sen. Where do you live, msen? If you live in/around NYC, I highly recommend you go to the National Archives to check out the records. I was actually just there this weekend to look at my own grandfather's Chinese Exclusion Act case file. Though he came to the US through California, he had a brother (or maybe "brother" through paper sons, etc., who knows?) living in NYC who had sponsored his emigration and was taken in for questioning/interrogation before my grandpa was officially allowed to enter the country. The documents in my grandpa's file included a full transcript of the interrogation with his brother as well as a few letters and such between immigration agencies, etc. There was also a photograph of my grandpa taken when he first arrived. I was able to learn a lot about my grandpa's village and found out the names of his brothers, father, other relatives, etc. that we never even knew existed. Lots of new leads opened up! It's fascinating stuff and could definitely help figure out both the surname and village info. The final transcript had to be signed by the person being interviewed, possibly signed in Chinese, which would show the surname character. Also in the interrogations it seems like they asked a lot of questions about both the home village as well as surrounding villages/towns. Even though spellings may be different today, it could help narrow down where your family's village is located.
If you don't live in the area, perhaps someone else on the forum from NY might be able to go and take a look at it? If I had seen this sooner, I would have checked for you but I don't actually live in NY and was only visiting for a few days. They do allow you to make photocopies (for a fee) and they also let you take photos of everything if you're cheap like me and don't want to pay to copy pages and pages of documents. If you or someone else decides to go check it out, email them first with all of the info you got from the database listing, especially the box/file numbers. For physical documents, they need to screen them first and you have to make an appointment ahead of time so they can have time to locate the documents. It's definitely something to think about. Good luck!
Glad you found so much info within your grandfather's file including a photo, so many details for you and your family. When I think about the stress of coming here for all the ancestors, and then the interrogations, well, it must have been difficult but the beginning of a new journey. Well, I was born near NYC (Brooklyn actually) but moved to the Midwest over 20 years ago and will not be able to go back, for now. So yes, I will seek another way or some help. Thank you telling me this Kimmy because it may help solve the Sen family history.
msen, Among different Chinese dialects and even within the same dialect, there will be variations how a Chinese word is pronounced. Add that to the fact that there is no fix rule on transliteration from Chinese to English, to have many variations of the same Chinese surname is not unusual. Sinn is another transliteration of 冼. Lady Sinn, the 6th century woman warrior, could be an ancestor of yours.
Finding your father's Chinese name on his tombstone would confirm his surname.
FayChee, Back in the days of the Exclusion Acts, the Chinese often listed an association address as their mailing address for a very good reason. Since many came to the US under a paper son name and there was fear that the immigration dept. monitored letters arriving from China, they didn't want letters from relatives revealing their true identity to be sent directly to their residence. Letters sent to an association could not be traced by immigration to the actual receivers.
The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, as it is now called, is an alliance of 70+ NY Chinatown organization. Its president is chosen, alternately, from representatives of only 2 of regional organizational members, Taishan Ning Yeung Association and Lin Sing Association. Taishanese once made up an overwhelming majority of the Chinese in America, they belong to Ning Yeung Association. All others belong to Lin Sing. It does make sense that Choy Sen who came from Hok Shan belonged to Lin Sing and had his mail delivered there.
Laohuaqiao, thank you for explaining these little confusing items to us. Some things I can guess at, but I feel better when you clarify and confirm them.
For the time being, we have reached an 'ebb tide' for gathering more information on Ancestry.com. As soon as the ordered documents arrive by 'snail mail', we may get the ball rolling again on finding where Mara's dad is buried and her Ancestral Village.
Post by laohuaqiao on Mar 17, 2013 14:56:44 GMT -5
msen, I stopped by the Hok Shan Association in New York City Chinatown last week. They were not familiar with English translation of surnames, so they couldn't confirm whether Sen is Sin/Xian 冼 or not. In regards to Sin/Xian 冼 surname, they said it is not a very common surname in Hol Shan and over the years, meaning the last 30or 40 years, they knew of only one person with that name. I did see on a plaque on the office wall, listing donations to the association, one person with that surname.
Hok Shan Association bought a plot of land in Cypress Hills Cemetery, which you have mentioned, for their members. The association keeps a list of name of deceased buried within the plot, but they were not able to find anyone with Sen or Sin/Xian 冼. But, the list is handwritten and writings being worn out over the years the names are not very legible. The Consolidated Chinese Benevolence Association (CCBA) also bought land in the same cemetery. It is also possible that your father was buried within CCBA's plot of land. The third possibility is your father grave site was bought directly from the cemetery, rather than from the associations.
I don't know if Cypress Hills has compiled a complete listing of the names of the buried. It's worthwhile inquiring with the cemetery. In any case, by the time the weather gets warmer and you still have not made any progress obtaining information from vital records from NYC, I'll ride my bicycle over to the cemetery and check out the two associations' sites.
Finally, in the past the Hok Shan people in New York were known to be restauranteurs. I have some friends whose ancestors came from Hok Shan and their parents were inevitably in the restaurant business. Years ago, in NYC Chinatown there was a chain of restaurants with the word "Hop" in their names, the owners and staff were from Hok Shan. There is still a few of them in Chinatown. Hop 合 has the meaning together, to join, to fit. Your father is the the first case that I know of who came from Hok Shan and who might have worked in a Chinese laundry. I asked about that at the Hok Shan Association and they agreed, they knew of no one from Hok Shan in the laundry business. There may not be any significance in this, but I thought I'd mention it.
Thanks laohuaqiao for finding this info for me. For the past two weeks I have been checking the immigration records via Ancestry for any Sen or Sien persons who came from Canton and arrived in the USA, especially NYC. I did not expect to find any names because I had heard that they "jumped ship" so there might not be records. However, to my surprise there are many with those names from Canton over a period of many years, mainly from 1920's to the 1940's. Perhaps I should list some of those names but I don't know if they could be relatives or not. Next I have just continued to search for more info on the names and purchased one of the books listed on this site. It is "In search of your Asian Roots" by Sheau-yueh J. Chao. I donot see Sen, Sien, or Sin listed. Oddly enough though, in the Inroduction, the author thanks Professor Tansen Sen for editorial support. Also the name Sun is listed in the back of the book under 12 strokes. As far as restaurant business and laundry business - My father, Chuck Sen, definitely owned (or maybe leased) a laundry business and his cousin Jimmy Sien was a waiter for his whole life. I do suppose that it could have been that my father began doing laundry while on the ship coming to the USA and just continued that while his cousin stayed in the restaurant business. I will call Cypress Hills again to see if I can get more info, while I wait for the death certificate. Yes, let's hope that spring will soon arrive since here in the Midwest we still are getting sleet and light snow days. Thank you for checking to find these bits of detail and hopefully I will one day, soon, find the pieces to my family puzzle!
For anyone following this topic (finding grave and Ancestral village of Chuck Sen), I was able to acquire the Chinese Exclusion Act Immigration Files on Choy Sen, born in 1869, who was head of household in the 1920 US Census that also listed 2 boarders, Toi Sen and Chuch Sen.
I cut and paste the information that I thought was relevent to finding the Chinese characters for 'Sen', and a possible Ancestral village of which there are 3 listed at different times (Peung Leung, Hok Shan District; Ping Leung, Hok Shan District; and Ping Ning Village, S.N. District).
There was no mention of a Chuck Sen, but a Yee Sen and Lem Sen of Brooklyn NY, were listed as people who owed him money.
Per my Reply #29, the surname Sen is 冼 (as confirmed by the document posted) which in Cantonese sounds like 'seen" and closely approximates the original Sien that later morphed to Sen. This is not a very common surname. As to the village Peung Leung I believe it may be Pinglian/Pihng Lihn, 平连村, GPS: 22.560915,112.86973.
Twoupman, thank you for reviewing my post. I do see (now) that your post #29, looks like the 3 signatures. Chinese characters are still very difficult for me, and right now, I can only recognize the first character of Seto (Se). I still cannot recognize the second character 'to/ti'.