Story of the Szetos
Exerpts from Chapter 1 of “My Father Shafei”
Historical records say: Situ family adopted their surname from the official title. The Situ family was most prosperous in Bianjing, and then migrated to the South China due to wars and chaos. According to the genealogy of Situ family in Chikan township of Kaiping county, Situ Xintang (司徒新唐), the first arrival from Situ family to this land, was born in 1324 and died in 1394. Since Yuan dynasty, the descendants of his and his cognation’s have gathered and lived in a dozen townships and scores of villages along the Tanjiang River(潭江) in Kaiping.
This family has an ancient folk legend. In Tang dynasty, Xue Gang, the grandson of Xue Rengui who is a great general, staged a rebellion against the ruler. The emperor ordered a family annihilation punishment. Before he ran for life, a fortuneteller told him to go south with a cockerel on his back and settle down when it crows. When arriving at the Chikan town in Kaiping county of Guangdong province, he heard the cockerel crowing, so he settled there and changed his surname into Situ because of its similar pronunciation with “Sitao”, meaning “abscond”. Even today, Situ family in Jiaodi Dam (means crow) 滘堤（叫啼) still worship Xue Rengui as their ancestor, and Hong Kong Situ’s Clansmen Association, together with Xue’s Clansmen Association, organizes a social gathering between Xue family and Situ family around the world every several years.
In the late Qing dynasty and early Republic of China, Kaiping and Taishan have become famous hometowns of overseas Chinese. Most young men in Situ family bided farewell to their beloved ones—parents, wife and children to seek a living in America and Southeast Asia; women were left alone and pass day by day in loneliness. Now about 30,000 people with the surname Situ live on the mainland of China while those that live in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and abroad also amounts to 30,000.