<Chinese headstone transcription



Transcribed by BeijingWang.

Other notes by BeijingWang and Dominic Monahan regarding these headstones:  "...First, keep in mind that the inscriptions are in column, not horizontal in a right-to-left format.  The rectangular tombstone was for a gentleman known as Guan Lei Gong whose home in China was Tang Mian Village, in the city of Yi Ning, Guang Xu province.  That tombstone does not give Mr. Lei's date of birth.  However, it does note that he died on May 20, 1903 during the reign of the Ninth Emperor of the Qing Dynasty.  Although the birth date of the Emperor and the term of his reign is noted on the tombstone, similar information is not provided for the deceased.

    At first I questioned the accuracy of Mr. Lie's death as falling on May 20, 1903.  However....the date was calculated  according to the Chinese calendar and not the Gregorian calendar.  In other words, May 20, 1903 is equivalent to June 14, 1903.

    The other tombstone with the arched top contained less information.  We do know that it represents the grave of Hua Wu Gong. (The word "Gong" on both of the tombstones is actually a reference to "admirable person or honorable gentleman").  Mr. Wu was from the village of Na Ma Guan.  The inscription on the right of the tombstone is difficult to understand, in part because the second character is difficult to translate.  ....it may have made reference to the Chinese society responsible for the expenses for burying the deceased.

    The notation on the web page (this site) regarding these two tombstones states that 'most remains (of the flood victims) were returned to China.'  This leads to a couple of more questions:  If the remains were returned to China, when did this occur?  I was told that a Chinese delegation traveled to Heppner in the late 1920s and conducted the appropriate disinterment of the remains of the Chinese flood victims.  However, if this is the case, why weren't these two graveyard markers removed?  Perhaps they were left there as a historical remembrance.  The other possibility is that the remains of those two individuals were not returned to China.  I was also curious as to who may have been responsible for erecting the tombstones and when they were placed in the graveyard.

    A census conducted in 1900 listed 13 Chinese males living in Heppner.  Whether or not this was an accurate count is not known.  My suspicion is there were several Chinese who were missed during the census.  I did a comparison of the names of those Chinese listed in the census versus the names of Guan Lei and Wu Hua and could not find any close similarities.  Of course, these two gentlemen could have been later arrivals and were simply missed in the census.  At least, though we have been able to put a name to two of the seven Chinese whose only historic acknowledgement to date has been the fact they were among seven Chinamen who died in the flood."

A big THANK YOU to Dominic Monahan and Beijing Wang for sharing this information!

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