A Yankee in China- page 2 | People & Places | Smithsonian
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William Edgar Geil on the Great Wall at Luowenyu, June 7, 1908. William Lindesay had thumbed through Geil’s book The Great Wall of China, and was stunned by the photographs, particularly one showing Geil near a tower on a remote section of the wall. Lindesay had a photo of himself in that very spot but noticed that in his the tower was missing. (William Edgar Geil)

A Yankee in China

William Lindesay follows the trail of forgotten traveler, William Edgar Geil, the first man to traverse the Great Wall of China.


Lindesay visited Doylestown in June. There, he met John Laycock; assessed the donations to the Doylestown Historical Society; visited Geil's grave in Doylestown Cemetery and toured the Barrens — a 10,000-square-foot, Italian Victorian mansion complete with molds of the stelae at either end of the Great Wall on the exterior of the house and a replica of a Chinese pagoda in an adjacent property. He has been granted access to the Doylestown Historical Society's newly acquired collection and is planning an exhibition at Beijing's Imperial Academy to begin on October 16 and run until the end of the year.

"[I] certainly [hope] to gain recognition of William Geil's achievements," says Lindesay. "That's already been done here in China, but I hope I can make Americans aware that William Geil was the first man to make a journey along this magnificent structure."


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