Members of the Chen family clan in Chiayi County are organizing a large gathering on Lunar New Year’s Day to commemorate their forefather, Chen Li-hsun (陳立勳), who came to Taiwan with the Ming Dynasty warlord Koxinga (鄭成功) more than 350 years ago.
Said to be one of the Koxinga’s most trusted generals, Chen settled in Houjue Village (後堀), a hillside community in what is now Lutsao Township (鹿草) in Chiayi County.
According to the township’s records, most of Lutsao’s residents are descended from Chen.
Almost all 75 households in Houjue Village have the surname Chen, because few outsiders have settled in the township.
The village has an “Ancestor Worship Hall for Chen clan of southern Taiwan” (南陳宗祠), built more than 260 years ago.
It was refurbished in 1986, and is now a public institution, open for ancestral worship ceremonies, public gatherings and festive events.
The worship hall is dedicated to Chen Li-hsun and his wife, and prominently displays their portraits. It also enshrines Matsu, the goddess of the sea, and Royal Lord Chih (池府千歲).
There is an imperial flag base, a royal grant from the Qing Dynasty court on the hall’s plaza, for banner displays to salute the Chen clan’s three Jinshi (進士), academics who achieved top honors in the Chinese imperial court mandarins’ entrance examinations.
The hall also features a stone tablet inscribed with the history of the Chen ancestors’ pioneering efforts and settlement in the area.
The Chen clan association of southern Taiwan organized an ancestor worshiping event and banquet two years ago, which was attended by nearly 400 members. It was not repeated last year.
A number of clan members decided to hold the event again this year on New Year’s Day on Sunday to commemorate the history of the Chen clan in the county and to discuss details of starting a national benevolent organization of Chen clans.
The main organizer of the activities, Chen Shui-sheng (陳水盛), a 10th-generation descendant of the general, said that “since settling in Taiwan, Chen Li-hsun’s offspring have thrived through 14 generations. The family branches are flourishing in many places around Taiwan.”
“The Chen clans are divided into three groups, based on where Chen Li-hsun’s three sons lived. I hope to see descendants from all three groups gather here for the event,” he added.
Chen clan members can contact Chen Shui-sheng on 0937-577-892.