The Migration to Bright Creek: Where Did Our Family Originate?

By Ted Marr G25


Basically, it boils down to four questions:

  1. What is our ancestor’s ORIGINAL ETHNIC ORIGIN? Is it HAN or GELOLU (a branch of Uyghur)? So, way back several thousand years ago, what were we? We could ask this question because the documents provide some level of the answer.
  2. Our Bright Creek MA Family Genealogy acknowledges that our Progenitor is Xiao Kuan, of whom we have a very detailed account of his life. He was from northern China and escaped the marauding Jin/Jurchen to take refuge in Ningbo area under the protection of the Southern Song Dynasty after the Song Emperor settled in Hangzhou. So, when and from which northern city did he start the southern migration? 
  3. When did Xiao Kuan, our progenitor arrived in the Ningbo area. And, at which village did he first settle? 
  4. Finally, our MA line started with Da You G6, who honored his father as the G1 of the new line. When and where did he resettle?  

1. Answer to the First Question: Our Original Ethnic Root

Documentary and scientific evidences are principally from our 1948 Genealogy, the 1935 Ningbo Census, other historical records on the internet, and DNA testing reports.  Today, we are fortunate to have a vast amount of historical data, powerful internet search capabilities, and scientific information to make an educated guess which might give us an answer that could give us a more accurate answer than our ancestors’ knowledge.

After all the documentary, scientific and anecdotal evidence are considered, we ask, “what is the very original ethnic origin of the Ma/Marr family?”. The short answer is we really do not know for certain; but, we may be able to get close to an answer based on all the factual evidence and logic. The following is my personal analysis and conclusion. 

Here is a quick summary of some of the possible options which these eviddences said regarding this question:

  1. Ethnic Han, Fufeng MA lineage: 1257 Edition Preface in the 1948 Genealogy, stated this option categorically, and then later on in the same Preface, the author equivocated. (File: 1.006)
  2. Ethnic Han, Fufeng MA Lineage: 1847 Edition Preface in the 1948 Genealogy also mentioned this possibility, but also equivocated. (File: 1.0024)
  3. Ethnic Han, FuFeng MA Linage: Migration document dated 1847 in the 1948 Genealogy (File: 1.0026).
  4. Ethnic Gelolu: 1933 Census report. Pages 990-992 of the 1935 Ningbo Census Report. Interestingly, the Census Report never mentions Fufeng MA lineage. Go to this page to see a longer discussion on this topic.
  5. DNA Tests – Meiling’s CRIGennetics DNA test: It mentions possible origin of Central China, but no Kyrgyzstan. The problem with “not include” is not necessarily a “negative” because in a DNA test, if the tester’s database of DNA markers is deficient, then the answer would be “not include.” If the CRIGennetics database does not include anyone’s DNA marker from a specific area, it will show up as “not include.” A sort of false negative. 
  6. Ted’s MyHeritage and AncestralDNA tests: The test result includes Kyrgyzstan area where the Gelolu originated. However, marker levels are quite small for both cases.
Meiling and Ted DNA testing from CRI Genetics, My Heritage, and Ancestral DNA

Both DNA tests also turn up a couple of exciting information not directly relevant to this issue. We have Vietnamese DNA. I believe that is because our mother, who was from the Sichuan 四川 area, near the west of China, may have some Vietnamese ancestors, or some of the Sichuan people might have migrated to Vietnam. The same is true of the Peruvian DNA match. Most likely, a long time ago, some of our ancestors migrated to Peru.

What strikes me as rather odd is the equivocal way this question got thrown around in the 1948 Genealogy documents. Over a period of at least 673 years, the ancients kept coming back and tried to justify that we are of legitimate ethnic Han, descended from FuFeng MA lineage. 

Let’s say it is unequivocal that we are 100% ethnic Han of the Fufeng Ma lineage, then why throughout this nearly 700 years, the issue kept coming up? Even from the earliest document of the 1275 Preface, it was equivocal. To me, it implies that there must be sufficient oral tradition and other anecdotal evidence to suggest that there is doubt that we are not of 100% Han descendants of the Fufeng Ma lineage.  It is natural to keep coming back to an issue because of the need to justify something, which in this case is to show ethnic Han legitimacy. So, the Ancients tried very hard to show that they are really Han. 

They need to show that they belong.  They are not outsiders; they are not foreigners; they are authentic Chinese of the FuFeng Ma lineage. This is essential given the fierce attacks and occupation by foreigners from the North. But, the oral tradition and anecdotal evidence keep getting in the way of making an unequivocal case. So, they had to keep coming back and made the case. Whereas the Census Report does not have this partisan bias. It asserts what objectively it gathered throughout a very long history of over one thousand years of Census Reports. And, it reports that our ethnic lineage is of Gelolu, an Uyghur tribe. 

The public 1935 Census Report paid zero attention that we were of the FuFeng MA line. Instead, it stated that we were off the Gelolu line. In fact, it categorically lumped all the MA families scattered around Ningbo as coming from the same Xiao Kuan, and by extension, they are all Gelolu descendants. The 1935 Census Report clearly embodies information and data from all the earlier Census Reports going back to the Tang Dynasty around the 7th and 8th Centuries. So, such information about our Gelolu origin could very well have been inherited from earlier Census Reports, many hundreds of years ago. 

There was always this underlying subtext within the family tradition that there is a suspicion that we are not 100% Han. Even Henry, my father once told me that many of our previous generations have “red hair” (meaning “brown”) and “big nose.” These are facial features from Gelolu Uyghurs. 

Given this evidence, I believe we could very well have descended from the Gelolu (or Karluk) Uyghurs in an area near today’s Sayub, Kyrgyzstan, about 50 miles from today’s Capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishok. Go to this page to see a longer discussion on this topic.

However, I cannot be completely certain because the three DNA reports we have received are not completely consistent. If more MA family members took DNA tests from other outfits, we might get more scientific clarifications.

2. Answer to the Second Question: The jumping off northern China city

So, did Xiao Kuan started his southern migration from Nanyang 南阳 or Bian Jing 汴京 (today’s Kaifeng 开封)? The 1948 Genealogy basically states that Xiao Kuan was from Bian Jing. It obliquely mentioned Nanyang, which is a city about 100 miles south from Kaifeng. In the 1935 Census Report, it mentioned both Bian Jing and Nanyang. 

Looking through all the evidence, I conclude that Xiao Kuan was from Nanyang 南阳 and not Bian Jing. However, Bian Jing’s citing is not necessarily a contradiction because Nanyang could very well be considered part of Bian Jing due to Nanyang’s proximity to Bian Jing (Kaifeng). A second reason is the timing. Xiao Kung left his northern homestead nearly 50 years after the Emperor escaped from Bian Jing, which was utterly destroyed by the Jurchen when the two older Emperors were shipped north to do hard labor. The population in Bian Jing was reduced to less than one-tenth. Xiao Kuan’s family would have no reason to stick around in a destroyed Bian for fifty years before they picked up and moved south. There are two possibilities. When the Jing barbarians attacked Bian Jing, the family migrated to Nanyang around 1125. Then, in 1163 Xiao Kuan was born. When He was 17 he migrated south. Another possibility is the family always resided in Nanyang. They would have avoided the Jin/Jurchen’s frontal attack in 1125.  Then, over time, the Jin/Jurchens may have started to spread out to other areas and created havoc for the residents in Nanyang. So, 53 years after the fall of the Northern Song Empire, Xiao Kuan emigrated south. Regardless whether the family always resided in Nanyang or escaped to Nanyang from Bian Jing, Xiao Kuan in all likelihood started his southward journey when he was 17 from Nanyang.

So, my vote is on Nanyang around 1179 CE.

3. Answer to the Third Question: Where did Xiao Kuan first landed in the Ningbo area

Throughout most of the Prefaces and the emigration documents of the 1948 Genealogy and in the 1948 Census Report, MaoShan 矛山 is the place where Xiao Kuan landed. Only occasionally, JianAo 建嶴 is mentioned.  JianAo 建嶴 is most often mentioned in association with many of the earliest generations’ burial sites and places where some of the later descendants migrated. 

So, my vote is MaoShan 矛山 around 1179 CE.

4. Answer to the fourth Question: Where and when did we start our line?

The answer to the where question is quite unequivocal. It is Bright Creek (or Hundred Beam Bridge) Village but it is sometimes also referred to by various other names. See this page for more details. It is also the name appeared on the title of the 1948 Ma Family Genealogy. The year of arrival at Bright Creek 光溪 by Da You (G6) is 1318 CE. The date is easily and accurately derived from Da You’s dates and the recorded account of migration. 

So, my vote is Bright Creek Village 光溪村 in 1318 CE.

5. Summary

My current tentative conclusion is based on my above reasoning. However, much more research would be required to bring certainty to a higher level.

Tang Dynasty, 7th to 9th Century, 
Possibly ~649
An enterprising UyghurPresent day Sayub
(near Bishok), Kyrgyzstan
Xian 西安
( or 长安ChangAn)
Tang Dynasty Capital
Northern Song Dynasty, 
10th to 11th Century
Ancestors of Xiao Kuan 孝宽 G1Xian 西安 or ChangAnNanyang
~1179Xiao Kuan 孝宽
Maoshan 矛山90%
8th Moon, 1318大有(仲守) DaYou (ZhongShou)
G6 at 48 Years
Maoshan 矛山Bright Creek Village (ZhengJinag Area)


Degree of “stated certainty about locations of “origin and destination” as appeared in the 1948 Genealogy.