Clayton Detweiler

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Clayton Detweiler is a fictional character in Scott Sigler’s novel Ancestor. He and his son Chris Detweiler, are life long residents of the Upper Peninsula region of Michigan and are considered Yooper's. Clayton currently serves as the resident caretaker of the Black Manitou Island facility for the Genada Corporation.

Character Background

Life Prior to Genada

Depiction of Black Manitou Island from the rear cover of the paperback print

Clayton has lived the majority of his life on Black Manitou Island. Before the residents and businesses were bought out by Danté and Magnus Paglione for the secret use of the Genada Corporation, Clayton managed the Otto Lodge. The lodge, which Clayton managed for 30 years, was a red brick mansion that had been in existence for over a century. A man named Phineas Muldoon owned it and it was his grandson, Kent that is said to have turned it into a hotel.

Spending as much time as he has on the island, Clayton has an intimate knowledge of the history of the climate, terrain and industry foflack Manitou Island. The following is a few of the statistics Clayton mentions in the novel Ancestor:

  • Stated that a typical winter produces around 250 inches of snow on the island
  • Explained that the abundant island rock called Petoskey stone is actually fossilized coral
  • Informed P.J. Colding about a 1965 storm that hit the Black Manitou Island area causing a freighter, named the Coronado, onto the shoals just beyond the shoreline
  • Showed Sara Purinam and Colding an old copper mine and informed them of the lucrative mining that occurred throughout the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
    • This leads him to reveal that the Black Manitou Island mine was closed after a cave in killed 27 men.
  • Stated the deer on Black Manitou Island had been there since 1948 when an ice bridge connected the island to the mainland allowing the deer to walk over from the mainland
  • Stated that 1968 was the coldest winter ever on Black Manitou Island, causing the mouth of the harbor freeze over
  • Informed Rory that Black Manitou Island once had wolves back in the sixties but they were wiped out by 1974

In the Employ of Genada

Genada Corporation Logo

Clayton’s intimate knowledge of the island and long career with the Otto Lodge is what makes him such an ideal employee for Genada’s Black Manitou Island facility. His less than accommodating demeanor is far outweighed by his impeccable ability to get the job – whatever that may entail – done as well as his versatility. When the Baffin Island operations needed to be moved to Black Manitou Island, Clayton and his son Chris were the first people to greet P.J. Colding and Sara Purinam. Clayton familiarized them with the island’s layout, residents and his responsibilities.

Clayton’s main contribution in the novel Ancestor did not occur until after the fateful flight of the C-5 that Magnus arranged after Dr. Liu Jiandan’s whistle blowing call was made to the CIA. The next morning after the flight, Clayton was out grooming the trails, when he stopped at Sven Ballantine’s home. There he learned of the cows from the plane and shortly thereafter found Sara and Tim Feely shivering in a snow bank. When he learned of Magnus’ failed plan to destroy the C-5, Clayton hid Sara and Tim in a church in the deserted Black Manitou town and equipped them with emergency supplies. Cautiously, Clayton made his way to the security room and overrode the secure terminal’s password protocols to call his son Chris. He instructs his son to go straight to the two survivors and get them off the island.

Magnus, realizing that Clayton became scarce the morning after the C-5's flight and that mansion was uncharacteristically messy, questioned Clayton about his whereabouts. When Clayton gave the excuse that he was under the weather, Magnus felt uneasy, but it wasn’t until Dr. Ruhmkorrf called that Magnus goes to Clayton’s home, where he finds women’s clothing and a lab coat, confirming that Sara and Tim were alive. Magnus returns to the mansion, waits for Clayton and then tortures him into divulging where the survivors are hidden. Clayton is further tortured when Magnus realizes that Clayton initially lied to him and subsequently reveals their real hiding place.

While Magnus makes his way toward the true hiding place, Clayton is rescued by P.J. Colding and Dr. Ruhmkorrf. After witnessing Danté Paglione and Bobby Valentine being eaten by the Ancestors, Clayton and Colding head out on a snowmobile to save the women at the church. Clayton ends up falling off the snowmobile and breaking his leg but as luck would have it, he is placed perfectly to retrieve the all terrain vehicle and rescue Colding, Sara and Tim. With [[Ancestor (creature)|Ancestor’s in hot pursuit, these survivors make it to the boat where Clayton’s son Chris is able to pull Clayton aboard and evade the creatures.



The character’s full name is Clayton Detweiler. The only nickname used in reference to Clayton was used by Sara Purinam. She affectionately referred to him as "champ".

Outward Appearance

At 66 years old, Clayton is physically described as having a bristly gray beard, bushy gray eyebrows, and thick gray hair usually kept combed straight back with an oily-wet look from the use of Brylcreem. He is also described as having deeply marked permanent wrinkles on his face a sandpapery voice. Clayton’s hands are described as being callused which can reasonably be assumed is a result of the manual labor he performs to maintain the Black Manitou Island facility. As caretaker of the facility, Clayton is frequently seen sporting a black Otto Lodge windbreaker in seasonable times of the year. Sara identifies Clayton to Colding as a Yooper or a person from the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan known for their thick and distinctive accent.


At first blush, Clayton can appear somewhat abrasive as he initially reflected a lack of friendliness and interest in newcomers to the island. He also displayed the tendency to blatantly reject people who tried to exert their authority over him. However, this is in direct juxtaposition with his uncompromising work ethic and love for the island that he called home for 30 years of his life.

Beneath the gruff outer shell, the reader learns that Clayton is actually a kind, thoughtful and dedicated person. The impetus of his less than welcoming disposition is his disdain for outsiders who have bought out the locals and treat his beloved island as their personal playground – namely for the Paglione brothers and for Genada. There are multiple examples of this dislike but the best example is displayed as Clayton tells Sara and Colding about an incident that occurred five years prior when Andy and Magnus came to Black Manitou Island and ran a “mission” which resulted in the extermination of all the deer on the island. This upset him because of the rich history behind how the deer came to be on the island. The one person who Clayton immediately befriends is Sara Purinam. This is because she grew up in the Michigan area and can emulate Clayton’s unique Yooper dialect. This endears Sara to Clayton and allows Clayton to slowly grow to like P.J. Colding.

Clayton is simple in his possessions as displayed by his home, which was described as a small log ranch house with a neat yard and potted plants hanging above the front door. He prized his experiences growing up and working on the island, most of which involved unlikely jaunts with high caliber celebrities. Although he spoke frequently of these forays, he does not convince many of their truth – even though, as we learn later in the novel, he has photographic evidence of some of them.


Clayton has a myriad of skills that makes him an effective and integral part of the management of the Black Manitou Island operations.

BV206 vehicle driven by Clayton

As the primary caretaker of the facility, Clayton demonstrates the versatility of performing mundane functions, such as janitorial duties around the lodge and mowing the landing strip, to more technical duties such as identifying and repairing issues with the phone lines after storm damage has occurred. He is comfortable handling vehicles ranging from a Jeep to a five ton fully amphibious Swedish military BV 206 all terrain vehicle, which he used mainly as a snowplow.

Furthermore, although his main responsibilities revolved around maintenance functions, Clayton acquired the ability to operate a complex security command center. This ability is demonstrated by his familiarity with overriding the communications system password protection protocols, which eventually assists in saving his life.

Of all of his skills, however, Clayton's single most important ability is his aforementioned intimate knowledge of the terrain and features of Black Manitou Island. This knowledge allows him to understand both the strengths and vunerabilities of the facility. During the course of the novel, Ancestor, his knowledge of the island allows him to hide Sara and Tim from Magnus' rampage. Also, it allows him to misdirect Magnus to an abandoned mineshaft, further buying time for his son to attempt a rescue.


Throughout the book, there are references to Clayton’s celebrity acquaintances he made while working at the Otto Lodge on Black Manitou Island. The following is a list of the celebrity acquaintances mentioned and confirmed:

Celebrity Revealed By Details
Rock Hudson Clayton
Clark Gable Clayton
Clint Eastwood Clayton The picture showed Clayton and Clint Eastwood holding up a huge steelhead trout and smiling
Marilyn Monroe Clayton Clayton said he had intercourse with her
Ernest Hemingway Clayton Clayton said he used to drink beer with him
Elizabeth Taylor Clayton Clayton said he had intercourse with her
President John F. Kennedy n/a Picture shows President Kennedy and Clayton together
Lana Turner Sven Ballantine Clayton mentioned that she came in only in the summer
Frank Sinatra n/a Clayton reminisces about he and Frank drinking Dean Martin under the table while Sammy had passed out. Had a memory of replacing Sammy’s glass eye with a ball bearing.
Charlton Heston Clayton Clayton remembers being taught to shoot an uzi by Charlton Heston back in the seventies
Dean Martin Clayton See Frank Sinatra entry
Sammy Davis, Jr. Clayton See Frank Sinatra entry
Paul Newman Clayton Has memories of Paul Newman getting stuck snowshoeing about file miles from the Otto Lodge. Since Paul hurt his ankle, Clayton remembers having to carry him back to the lodge.
Zsa Zsa Gabor Clayton Remembers making love to ZaZa at North Pointe on Black Manitou Island when she went crazy and stabbed him in the arm then made off with his Jeep. His memory goes on to explain that he had to walk 3 miles after she took his jeep to Sven’s home where he was stitched up.

See Also