Owyang Family Returns to Roots using Internet (Part 1)

We’ve used the internet to find my family, share information, and now we’re planning a journey back to our roots
I wanted to share this personal project that I’m working on, it ties back to the web, as that’s how we all met and started to communicate (the web fosters community)

In a few weeks, I’ll be leading a group of 22 Owyang’s (or those related to Owyangs) back to China to our home town called Dai Lian (Big pretty mountain) (Update from cousin Michael: Mandarin spelling is Da Ling) in southern China between Hong Kong and Macau in the Pearl River Delta Area. The trip will be at least a week or longer, and we’ll spend nearly 3 days at our hometown.

The Internet as a Community Platform
This story is unique as we met primarily through the internet. A few years ago I created a website for my immediate family called Owyang.org. It was intended as an ‘intranet’ for my family but quickly other Owyang’s found me, it had a lot of google juice. Since I have a unique last name it’s easy to find others, imagine if our last name was ‘Wong’.

I created a Yahoo Group and I update the Wikipedia page. To date, there are exactly 100 members in this group and many have not met. Most know each other, or have traced each other via the family tree that exists (Beijing keeps accurate records). I’m able to filter out keep out folks that are not related. The internet has brought us together.

For many of the folks, this will be their first time seeing the home town DaiLian (where many Owyang’s are from) most of us are American-Chinese. I put “American” first as many do not speak Chinese anymore as we’re 3-5th generation. (as you know I’m 5th generation American).

We will use Social Media to record our Journey
We’ll be recording this journey on a group blog that I’ve setup (and will let you know) and will be publishing pictures to flickr as well as taking video.

For Owyang’s and Dailian, this is a big deal.

For me as a web professional this is a big deal, the web has helped me to bring together my family blood, and return to our roots.

The internet brings the world together, it’s a big deal.


  • Many if not most Owyang’s are from Dai Lian in Southern China (Update from cousin Michael: The Ouyang surname did not originate in the Southern China. Our common Da Ling ancestor moved to Guangdong province over 800 years ago, butthere were several generations before him.)
  • There is a written family tree that goes back hundreds of generations, it’s approved by Beijing
  • Jeremiah Created Owyang.org and updated Wikipedia pages
  • Jeremiah created a Yahoo Group for Owyang’s to find each other
  • A group of folks using the internet and email were able to assemble in real life a few years ago
  • New connections and information has been exchanged both in person as well as online in the Yahoo Group
  • Since then, we’ve decided to take a journey back to our roots in Dai Lian
  • We will record our journey using social media

Kickoff and Thank you Dinner
Kick Off Dinner in Bay Area

  • Jeremiah, did your peeps come to the US via Angel Island? I have a college friend who did what you’re doing and the stuff he dug up was fascinating.

  • J,

    That’s fascinating, buddy! I just did check out the slick website you’ve created and the wikipedia update. Nice.

    Wish you the very best on this ambitious project. Have a great trip to home and back! Can’t wait to see the pics.


  • Thanks Mario, it’s going to be great time, as I understand it this is the largest migration of my family back to it’s roots.

    We’re making history full circle.

  • Jeff

    My direct line (my grandfather’s grandfather) was here from China on diplomatic business from the Last Emperor of China. We stayed ever since.

    I know that other branches of my family unfortunately had to deal with Angel Island, and on my Mom’s side.

    As I understand it, it was no pleasant at all.

    Although far from perfect, I truly appreciate modern America.

  • this is awesome and gave me goose bumps thinking 1. about the experiences you all will share and 2. the true power of social media in our daily lives.

    Here is a resource you might find interesting it is a site that explores how to use digital tools and media to record and preserve spoken memories of family memembers (i met her at BlogHer this summer): http://www.familyoralhistory.us/news/

  • Bess

    Your Owyang root is very famous from the political history and literature history. You should be able to find sources of Owyang in history books. Many references are written in Chinese.

  • Daniela

    Thanks, this really is a unique moment in our family history. Many American families loose their roots after a few generations, we’re doing what we can to hold on and regain lost knowledge.

  • Bess, yup, as I understand there are some famous poets that carry the same family name.

  • This is just a fabulous story and it belongs in global neighborhoods.

  • Awesome! I’ll be excited to see this develop.

  • Bess

    Yes you are right. Your ancestors were famous writers. You are in the right line of business – blogging. We always know the Owyang belong to the classy sector.

  • Kit

    I am again awestruck at your commitment, perverance and passion to pursue what you care about.

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  • ou yang xiuling

    i was doing a search on my anchestral lines after my dad showed my some data on my family tree leading way back to ou yu shan. do you have the actual family tree?

  • Xiuling

    Yes, I did go and do have the tree. send me an email to discuss further.

  • Nathalie

    One of my mother’s grand mothers had the surname Ouyang. When my mom mapped out her family tree for me she wrote the surname as “Auyang” so I thought it was just one word but in fact it’s a two word surname. My mother’s grandparents from her mother’s side are from china. it’s cool that you are tracing your ancestors and finding so many relatives. if only i could do that with my mom’s grandmother. whether or not i am related to you i don’t know. i wish i could know. i am a second generation chinese american (my parents were immigrants to the u.s.) and growing up i did not have much interest in learning chinese. but now i have and i can read most of the chinese shown in news programs and and chinese learning books. it is my goal to be able to one day read my father’s genealogy book as i do not know who has the genealogy book in my mother’s family. i’m not really sure if her family has one.

  • Nathalie

    Great to hear from you, thanks for sharing!

  • Nathalie

    there was one post on one of your blogs about family books and how female daughters’ names are not included in the book. that’s just the same for my father’s book. and the females that marry into the family only get their maiden surname put in there. i think it’s ridiculous. i was kind of irritated there wasn’t a place for my name, date of birth, and origin of birth to be put in though there was one for my brother. like i never existed in that family or something.

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  • F. Ouyang

    Hey there,

    Another “Ouyang” here.

    Just found this website/blog by accident.

    Our family tree took a detour and branched out to Taiwan during the Qing Dynasty. Ouyang Kai was sent to Taiwan by one of the early Qing Emperor as the “commander-in-chief” of the imperial military forces in Taiwan. Our family is a direct descendent from that branch.

    Obviously, our branch took another detour into the US… And is now pretty mixed…

  • Jeff

    My direct line (my grandfather's grandfather) was here from China on diplomatic business from the Last Emperor of China. We stayed ever since.

    I know that other branches of my family unfortunately had to deal with Angel Island, and on my Mom's side.

    As I understand it, it was no pleasant at all.

    Although far from perfect, I truly appreciate modern America.

  • john Au-Yeung

    Hello People,
    I am an “Au-Yeung” from Hong Kong.
    I am curious out of all of the different spelling of our surname, which one comes first?
    Would you have a softcopy of the family tree? J.Au-Yeung

  • The spellings have come in many forms, I don’t know which has come first. It’s been a family discussion without ruling. I don’t have a soft copy, but if you get back to the village in ZhongShan, near Dai Liang (1.5 hours from you) you can see the heritage family books. Thank you cousin.

  • Do you have more info about Auyeung in Hakkaese family? I would like to join your Yahoo group, thank you!

  • hai, im ouyang from indonesia, i heard from my grandfather that his grandfather are from china..

    i would like to join your group..

  • auwcewie

    hai Jeremi, i am auw yang ce wie, i from indonesia too, my granfather is from fucien exacly cimoy state, i have 2 generetion hwo live in indonesia, hwo knows names “iniwaciau”, my printis was came from singapure at year 1905, went the holland nation concorde malayunesees kingdoms, my granfader was work for holland compeny for oil compeny exporation, until now our family stiil live and work in indonesia exacly at Borneo, East of kalimantan city of Balikpapan. Jeremy, i still have my family root (for altar of ensister), there is meaby have 30 names of the ensister before find to my granfader name. In this city we also have the organisation of “iniwaciau” as name Cimen Group (Hokkian tra from cimoy). oke Jeremy nice to knew each other family borthers and sisters arrond the world, astalasvista !!!!! viva the Ouwyang !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • AuwLily

    Hello, i’m from indonesia. I was born as a mix culture child in my family. My mother is indonesian and my father is chinese with surname Auw.
    Is it the same or different surname with auwyang?
    I want to know more about my ancestry but i cannot asking my father more about it since my father passed away 2 years ago.
    While i searched about Auw surname, i always directed to the surname Auw Yang.
    I dont know why. Maybe my surname is too rare 😐