Dr. William Edgar Geil


the Great Wall of China

Doylestown 2009

I returned to Doylestown with my brothers in May 2009 for the first-ever Exhibition on Dr. William Edgar Geil (1865-1925). It opened on Friday night, May 29, 2009. Joining us this time was my nephew Scott Laycock and John Emerson Viele. John is from the Emerson side of the family, that is, my grandmother's side, which traces to Ralph Waldo Emerson. I describe more about this in Return to Doylestown.

William Lindesay was not able to make it from Beijing, but was represented by Piao Tiejun.

L-R: Bob Laycock, John Laycock, Brad Laycock and Scott Laycock, Brad's son.

John Laycock and Piao Tiejun.

The William Edgar Geil Exhibition

William Edgar Geil Exhibition Opening Night

Making the Rounds...

While in town we returned to Doylestown Cemetery so John Viele could see the Geil gravesite. It was also our first chance to see the finished installment of the plaque that William Lindesay presented the year before from International Friends of the Great Wall.

Return to Doylestown Cemetery

We also made a return visit to the Barrens and the Pagoda, once part of the property but now parceled off when land was subdivided and a new street put in. I describe the Pagoda in Doylestown 2008.

Pictured here (L-R) is Brad Laycock, Scott Laycock, John Viele, John Laycock and Bob Laycock.

Tour at Doylestown Cemetery

After the rest of the family had left I remained in town a while longer and joined Tim Adamsky for one of the tours he leads through Doylestown Cemetery. You quickly realize there's a lot of history behind these markers — and as Tim explains, that history in contained in the dashes between the birth and death dates.

Here he is introducing the tour participants that morning to my grandfather, Dr. William Edgar Geil.

Tim Adamsky presenting the story of William Edgar Geil to participants in a tour of Doylestown Cemetery.

New Friendships

As I've written elsewhere in this section, my family and I value the friendships that have followed the events of 2008 and 2009. During our stay in Doylestown, we sat down with Piao Tiejun and at which point he presented a number of gifts brought from China. These included wooden cups carved to match a mural in Dr. Geil's study at the Barrens. There's a tiger and the quote, "One roar and the wind sprang up from the valley."

Piao also gave us a souvenir ticket from the 'Great Wall Revisited' exhibition that took place at the Imperial College & Temple of Confucius Museum in Beijing from October to December, 2008 (see Beijing 2008).

I filmed this video of Piao as he presented these gifts.

Piao subsequently married and in September 2012 he and his wife, Shu, visited David and me at our home in Cleveland, Ohio. My brothers, Brad and John, came to Cleveland as well for the visit. It was a great reunion. At one point, Piao showed us pictures and maps from a project he was working on. He had retraced Dr. Geil's trip along the Yangtze River in China rephotographing this journey the same as William Lindesay rephotographed the Great Wall.

Piao & Shu Visit Cleveland

Last, but not least, comes a great story — and an even bigger honor. Shu was pregnant when she and Piao visited in Cleveland in 2012. She had a boy, and later they had a second child, a girl. And this happy event always includes a challenge: What name should we give our new child?

To our absolute delight, they named their son Edgar after our grandfather. Later, when their daughter was born, she became Constance after our grandmother. I just have to believe the original Edgar & Constance are beaming with pride!

Pictures courtesy of Piao Tiejun

Pictures of Shu, Edgar and Constance in 2016.


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