I was talking to Dad last night about family history. I was hoping that if I make it to China I could visit the Thom family ancestral village. I know it won’t be easy, being that I don’t speak Chinese, and it’s located in a pretty remote area. All I know is that it’s called Hoiping Changsha, but since spelling of Chinese place names is kind of inconsistent, it will be almost impossible to find through any English sources.

Anyway, I stumbled upon this site that has a detailed history of my family. I can’t describe the feeling, but when I saw my family name in Chinese in the top left corner, it almost brought me to tears. I’ve never seen my last name written in Chinese except for when my father wrote it for me years ago. My family came to Canada in the 19th century, so I’ve really lost track of my roots. The man who created the site had been on a similar journey to find his family’s village, and had a very difficult time of it, even though he speaks the local dialect. The maps he translated and provided for free may be useful in my own quest though.

For now, I’m just enjoying the history and information. Various legends have my ancestors traced back to the original Yellow Emperor who united China around 3000 B.C.E. The first actual Thom (譚 officially transliterated as “Tan”) took on that surname in honor of the destroyed State of Tan in 694 B.C.E. All of us are decended from him. It’s humbling to think of the span of years between then and now, and all of the things that have happened since then.

UPDATE: I just received email from Henry Tom, the man who created the site. I wrote him to thank him for creating it, and he wrote back, offering to research the location. If he can provide maps to show the location of my ancestral village, I can buy them for $50. That’s a very generous offer, so I’m taking him up on it. Maybe it won’t be so difficult after all.