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Mrs. Wilder's watercolour paintings ...


... Maingate seen from "outside" ...



... a unique gateway. Courtyard where Yengching people lived ...



... Crepe myrtle tree ...



... The moon gate ...



... The Hospital water tower ...



... The Hospital gate, closed and barbed wired ...



... Corner of the Hospital ...



... in the Hospital yard ...



... a little stream out of bounds ...



... bit of the wall where "black market" flourished ...



... a water tower ...



... the south end of "Main Street" ...



... a corner in the compound ...



... a bit of one of the residences (out of bounds) and the "Tingtze". ...



... entrance to residences (out of bounds) ...



... The "White Elephant" where sugar was exchanged for shoes, sheets for shirts etc.

... from Mitch and Lynda Krayton.
From Mitch & Linda Krayton,
July 2008,

We live in the greater Los Angeles community of Santa Clarita.

Several years ago, while attending an antiquarian book fair, we came upon the most incredible book that was the guest book of a The Camel Book shop in Peiping (Peking, Pekin, Beijing). We purchased this tome which is leather bound volume (apx 12"x18"x6"), corners of woven silk, has brass hinge fittings (missing the locking pin) and encrusted with many semi-precious stones. It was in the Grand Hotel de Pekin which was the largest and most modern hotel in the area and served as the major hotel for visitors of every rank and distinction.

The hotel was located inside the walled city (which have since been removed to make the ring road) and very close the The Forbidden City and Tienanmen Square. Also nearby was the Foreign Legation which came to be as a result of the Boxer rebellion.

The Camel Bell (aka The Camel Bells, The Camel's Bell) was owned by Miss Helen Burton. My wife and I are researching the life of this incredible person and hope to put our findings into a book. The more we research, more fantastic things we find out about the time, the place and the people she knew. Here is a bit of what we know...

Born in 1917 in North Dakota, her father and brother both rose in state politics. She wanted to venture off to exotic places. She wound up in Peiping looking for secretarial work and it turns out she was a bit of an artist and entrepreneur.

It was not long that she started her shop with candy, clothing, art and gifts of her design that she arranged to be made by locals.

People from all over the world stopped by and signed her guest book. Others did a lot more: drawing, painting and writing poetry. There are photos and holiday cards, too. Hundreds of visitors are here (we are trying to catalog them all).

She was very much the socialite and people would often stay with her in the city or at her summer home in the hills outside the city.

She never married, but did adopt 4 Chinese girls who helped her run the shop.

When the Japanese overtook Peiping, she was captured and wound up in Weihsien. Which leads me to find all of you.

There she was involved with a barter site that has been called The White Camel Bell or The White Elephant Bell. There was no money but I suspect her entrepreneurial spirit and her fearless willingness to bargain gave her the courage to set this up.

So to all of you who knew Miss Burton in Weihsien or the barter shop, we would be delighted to know your stories and your impressions of her. And if you have relics or photos of her or the shop, it would be a thrill to see those, too.

Thank you all in advance for making our quest so real and so interesting.

Mitch Krayton

Donald Menzi's interpretation of the Helen Burton puzzle.

The White Elephant Shop


... Village West of the Compound ...



... Our 9 x 12 living quarters ...



... Watch Tower built by the Japanese at the corner of the athletic field ...



... The Church ...



... Our noon bell ...



... Weihsien suburbs = out of bounds ...



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