Modern Day Family

The Splingaerd Diaspora

Descendants of Paul Splingaerd are Scattered Across the Globe

Anne Megowan’s thirteen years of digging for information about Paul Splingaerd rewarded her not just with information on her great grandfather, but also with the discovery of fellow Splingaerd descendants across the globe. There are four lines of descendancy: of Paul’s 3 sons, only Alphonse and Remy had children. Of Paul’s daughters, only Pauline and Lucie had children. Paul’s 4 oldest daughters became nuns, one died in infancy, another died of cholera as young girl, and two remained childless after marriage.

2009 Lanzhou Reunion

In 2009 a reunion of  Paul Splingaerd’s descendants met on the centennial anniversary of the “First Iron Bridge Across the Yellow River”. Here are some highlights:

bc1-smallerThe biggest event of the year was the August trip to Lanzhou, China. It was a memorable one. Along with seven other descendants of Paul Splingaerd, the subject of my book, The Belgian Mandarin, Anne was invited to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the “First Iron Bridge Across the Yellow River” that Paul had proposed for the city of Lanzhou. Today it is known as Zhongshan Qiao (Sun Yatsen Bridge). We were given the unexpected honor of being conferred honorary citizenship to the city. The televised event in front of dignitaries, drummers (not as many as at the Olympics, but quite impressive), a full orchestra, and fireworks, made us feel quite special.

2008 Ottenburg family reunion

2008 Ottenburg Reunion

A reunion at Paul’s statue in Ottenburg in November 2008 brought together family members from South and North America, Europe and Asia.

Here are some links to this wonderful event:

Paul’s Children: Our Forebearers

Of Paul and Catherine Splingaerd’s 13 known children, only 4 had children. They were Alphonse, Remy, Pauline (Muller) and Lucie (Paternoster).

Paul family tree shortlist The graphic above was provided by Christian Goens


Descendants as of June 2008 The graphic above was provided by Christian Goens

  • Alphonse SplingaerdAlphonse Splingaerd – 1877 – 1943.  Paul’s eldest son, known in China as Lin Ah De,   Married Anna Colette Chang of Lanzhou. The surname has been lost in this branch as female offspring dominated.The known surnames now associated with Alphonse Splingaerd are Keet, Cox, Laheurte, Roth and Nadeau.
  • Remi SplingaerdRemy Splingaerd – 1879 – 1931. Paul’s middle son married Anna Zhang of Lanzhou, the niece of Alphonse’s wife.  The surname Splingaerd has been carried down in Remy’s family, but the only male grandson, Jean-Pierre Splingaerd (Peter), only son of his only son, Joseph, has only produced a daughter, Tamara (Tara), so this may mean the end of the line in the genealogical sense.  The new surnames introduced by the predominantly female descendants of Remy are:  Agostini, Appoloni, Bertossi, Biesel, de Brouwer, Bourgéry, Caffroni, Gaspard, la Cava, Mavel,  May, Megowan, de Micheli, Olds, Ollivier, O’Neil, Pourbaix, Powell, Regout, Rose, de Royer, Zamuner. (It is Remy’s granddaughter who wrote the biography of Paul, The Belgian Mandarin.)
  • Pauline Splingaerd Pauline Splingaerd – 1883 – 1946. Paul and Catherine’s ninth child married textile engineer Jean-Jacques Muller in China. They returned to Belgium after WWI. This branch can be found predominantly in Belgium and France. Pauline’s children have introduced the new surnames of Jannsens and Jacob.
  • Lucie Splingaerd "Nei Nei"Lucie Splingaerd – 1885 – 1983. The 11th child of Paul and Catherine married Albert Paternoster. To their own patronymic, they have added Anglani, Latartara, Fresia, and Van Hecke. Lucie’s descendants live in Venezuela, Madrid, Italy and Belgium
  • A branch of the Lin (Chinese transliteration of ‘Splingaerd’) family continues in Taiwan and Shanghai. We’re awaiting more information on these relatives.
    Yu Shenng Lin
    Yu Sheng Lin.
    Little is known about this cousin, but his son, Dr. Mathias Lin, was a respected principal, professor and translator of Italian and Latin musical works into Chinese. His wife and daughters live in Taiwan.

Here is a compilation of the whereabouts of Paul’s progeny based on research by Christian Goens and Anne Megowan (as of October 10, 2016)

Europe 158
Belgium 45
France and Monaco 38
United Kingdom 17
Italy 21
Portugal 2
Spain 4
Switzerland 31
Americas 106
Canada 1
Ecuador 2
USA 67
Venezuela 36
South Pacific 38
Australia 32
New Zealand 6
Southeast Asia 11
Idonesia 2
Malaysia 2
Singapore 5
Thailand 2
Middle East 7
United Arab Emirates 4
Turkey 3
Far East 22
China 16
Japan 3
Taiwan 3
Total World 344

If you’re a descendant of Paul Splingaerd and think you may have been excluded from our family count, we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with Anne.