comments from William Chiang on Xiapangu

Xiao Pan Gu |  周馥 Zhou Fu | Liu Bingzhang tree; 刘秉璋  | e

Xu ?? 

  • Xu Nai-Chang (徐乃昌,字积馀) Xu Wen-Da’s nephew; 兴办镇江大照电力公司 etc.   

Xu Wen-Da (徐文达 -1890 + Fu started career together, 字仁山) my maternal great grandfather 

  • Xu Nai-Guang (徐乃光, 字厚馀) Wenda’s 1st son, my grand uncle sold Xiao Pangu to Zhou
  • Xu Nai-Bin ( 徐乃斌, 字孝馀) Wenda’s 2nd son – my grandfather worked for Zhou Fu  
    • Xu Mou-Xing (徐慕邢eldest son of 徐乃斌 and my uncle; close friend w/ 周今觉 

Submitted on 2011/10/21 at 5:33 pm

Hi Irene,

Sorry for not seeing your message earlier.

Xu Wen-Da (徐文达, 字仁山): my maternal great grandfather:  (this link doesn’t work 2016.01.05 ), “徐文达和徐家大屋.” (徐文达和徐家大屋的故事) He and your gg-grandfather 周馥started their careers at about the same time and served with distinction over many years under Viceroys曾国藩and 李鸿章 in the Xiang (湘)and Huai (淮)armies during campaigns against the Taiping rebels. They worked their way up and became key high officials in the inner circle of the Zheng and Li administrations, and they became good friends. He most probably built Xiao Pangu when he was 两淮盐运使 with headquarters (衙门) at Yangzhou. (If you ever visit Xiao Pangu again, maybe you can check on the date of its construction.)

Xu Nai-Guang (徐乃光, 字厚馀): Wen-Da’s eldest son and my grand uncle: (this link isn’t work 2016.01.05. baidu on 徐乃光). He sold Xiao Pangu to the Zhou family a few years after his father died in 1890. As to whether the sale date was 1897 or 1904, I think the latter is more likely. Since he was the first Chinese Consulate-General in New York between 1894 and 1897, it is very unlikely that he handled the sale in 1897; he was for sure in NY in 1896 – see New York Times article of May 31, 1896  nyt pdf He (Hsu Nai Kwang) was mentioned as one of the guests at the Decoration Day celebration at the Grant’s Tomb.

The dedication of the Grant’s Tomb took place the following year, in April of 1897, and I think he was there, which puts him still being in NY in 1897. The Chinese delegation was supposed to have planted a cherry tree at the Tomb and dedicated a plaque in Chinese to honor Gen. Grant because he was a dear friend of Li Hung-Chang’s. If you happen to be in the neighborhood at Riverside Drive and 125th Street you might be able to find the plaque.

Xu Nai-Bin ( 徐乃斌, 字孝馀): my grandfather and Wen-Da’s second and youngest son. He worked directly under Viceroy Zhou Fu, who put in charge of many important tasks, such as, the planning, surveying, and land purchases for the construction of the Nanking-Shanghai railroad. When the Zhabei (闸北) district of Shanghai was to become a Chinese municipality, he was designated as the official in charge of its development, to oversee the demarcation of city limits, road construction, land apportionment for to the construction of the North Railroad Station, and the final construction work to connect the Nanking-Shanghai rail line to the Woosung-Shanghai rail line at the North Station. (The North Station is still the main railroad station of Shanghai today.) See (isn’t working 2016.01.05)  “清末闸北开辟“通商场”再探”… “1906年3月23日(光绪三十二年二月二十九日),两江总督周馥正式委派江西候补道徐乃斌会同上海道,设局办理闸北开埠“所有定界、筑路、造屋、设捕及召变铁路拨还地亩一切事宜”。When Viceroy Zhou became Governor-General for Guandong and Guanxi, 两广总督, my granduncle was transferred to work under him in Guangdong.

Xu Nai-Chang (徐乃昌,字积馀): Xu Wen-Da’s nephew; He was brought up by Xu Wen-Da and was one of the foremost book collectors of his time. He had business associations with many of the Zhou family members; for example, “又与南洋总督周馥之孙周美权、北洋政府财政总长周学熙、周叔韬(全国政协副主席)等,兴办镇江大照电力公司,任董事;同时任大生纱厂二厂厂长。继又发起组织中国水泥联营,其联营单位有上海水泥厂、中国水泥厂、启新洋灰公司(乃周学熙、周叔韬合办)”

Xu Mou-Xing (徐慕邢): eldest son of 徐乃斌 and my uncle; (isn’t working 2016.01.05) . He was very close friends with Zhou Jing-Ju (周今觉); they were both avid and famous early stamp collectors in China…“在北京时爱上集邮,此后乐此不疲。1926年加入中华邮票会,名列90号,积极赞助周今觉会长发展会务,被推举为董事,基金部、总务部、编辑部理事。””… 与周今觉君亦为戚谊.”

With all this information we can conclude that徐文达 and 周馥 were very close friends, and their close friendship filtered down to a number of generations. The sale of Xiao Pangu was a manifestation of that friendship; the Xu family chose to sell the residence-garden to the Zhou family instead to someone else.

For us Xu descendents, Xiao Pangu is a window to the larger family estate at Nanling, Anhui. What is left of that estate is just one wing of it, which as I being used as part of a hospital. The estate was badly damaged and pilfered by the invading Japanese armies, and a subsequent fire destroyed most of it. However, the Nanling 县government has designated the left-over parts of the estate as a preservation area.

As to the former Xu compound in Yangzhou at 41 古旗亭, I understand that it is still there and is now being used as a café. My mother was born there and grew up until she went to a missionary boarding school in Zhenjiang across the River.

I hope all this information gives you a broader perspective regarding the early history of Xiao Pangu and the man who originally built it. I hope you had a good trip to China this summer. Although we are at least one generation apart, and because of the past close friendship between the Xu and Zhou families, our acquaintance can be considered as being世交.



P.S. As to the dot next to the word 在 in 水流云在, my best guess now is that it is a punctuation mark, like a full-stop, to end the phrase.

Submitted on 2011/03/25 at 9:10 pm

Dear William,
Thank you so much for checking in and very pleased to meet you, and thank you for sharing. Before I started the genealogy project I knew little about Chinese history and couldn’t understand how the salt merchants could be so fabulously wealth. After all, a pond of salt cost only ¢99 and it would last for months if not year. Somehow I think I understood a little by now.
The link you provided here didn’t work and Hudong has very limited entry. Do start an entry on Wikipedia, I’d like to know more about your great grandfather, 徐乃光, 徐乃斌 .. and especially how/what/when/where/why they/he worked under Zhou Fu. It would benefit all of us!
Peter Crush, a friend of mine whom I met through my research is into trains, I’m sure he’d interested to know too or provide you some info as he’s been patiently doing it for me for years.
I’m going to China this summer and hope would visit the Xiao Pangu again. Please do share what you know about the garden. I definitely will visit Hefei and Hushang, the Yellow Mount, and the little villages of my ancestors. Is your great grandfather’s estate in Wuhu still there? I may stop by? Also is Xu residence complex at 古旗亭 in Yangzhou exist? I may stop by if I go.
Thank you for correcting me. Do you know why the dot is on the 在? There must be an anecdote?
More later ..
Have a great weekend

Submitted on 2011/03/24 at 10:09 pm

Thanks for the interesting report on your visit to the garden. I am very interested in your report, because it was my maternal great grandfather who originally built the garden.

When the garden was built, he was posted at Yangzhou as the Two-Huai Salt Controller (两淮盐运使), supposedly a very lucrative post. The garden’s design was a much scaled down version of his estate at Nanling in Anhui, near the city of Wuhu, his ancestral home. His estate at Nanling had ninety-nine and a half rooms with two garden complexes. The estate was shy of 100 rooms, because in those days only relatives of the emperor are allowed to have residences with 100 rooms.

Evidently my great grandfather and Viceroy Zhou were fast friends. The ownership of Xiao Pangu was transferred to Zhou seven years after his death in 1897 by his eldest son, Xu Nai-Guang (徐乃光), who had just returned after serving as the first Consulate General in New York. More on this can be gleaned from  (link isn’t working 2016.01.05) which you may have already known about.

As to the engraving over the pond, I think it should be read from right to left as was the custom in the old days. 水流雲在 would then mean “As the water flows, the clouds remain.” That would be more poetic and fitting for the enviromnent.

I am the grandson of 徐乃斌, Xu Wen-Da’s second son, who served under Viceroy Zhou Fu in many different official posts in Shanghai and Yangzhou regions, including the promotion and supervision of the building of the Shanghai-Nanjing rail line. My mother grew up in Yangzhou at the Xu residence complex at 古旗亭 and since 1950 had lived in the United States until her death in California in 2004.

I now live in Southern California and had lived and gone to school (NYU) in Manhattan for many years before moving west.

Love your lively website. Keep it up. All the best.

William Chiang
Sierra Madre, CA

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