Friday, April 22, 2016

One and the Same

Perhaps it was last night's genealogical society meeting which inspired me with the presentation showcasing just what it means to do an "exhaustive search." I returned home, determined to search every possibility for confirmation of Clendening twins. Was it Harvey and Mansel? Or one and the same with both names?

Admittedly, if the two were combined in the person of one, it would make for an awkwardly long name. After all, I've already posited that Harvey Wilson Clendening was really the son of missionary Peachy T. Wilson, placed in the Chicago-area home of clergyman Thomas Clendening when the widowed missionary decided to return to India. I have yet to find any documentation indicating that Harvey was legally adopted, but it seems Harvey did adopt his surrogate father's surname—at least, if this was the same Harvey.

So, to add Mansel to the Harvey Wilson name that got appended to the new Clendening family identity would make a long name, indeed.

I had to go take a look.

Thankfully, discovering that H. Wilson Clendening had had a son whom he named Wilbur made the search somewhat easier. But the man's knack of switching given names, depending on document—or, perhaps, mood—was a frustrating factor. And really, who knows if "H" Wilson would be the same person as Harvey Wilson?

Yet, it didn't take long to discover Wilbur Clendening in the 1940 census. However, it wasn't in the town where he had been residing for the past decade—Sedgwick in Harvey County, Kansas—but in a location far from there.

Granted, on this enumeration day on April 8, 1940, it was most likely that Wilbur and his traveling companion were on their way to catch that ship to Honolulu, as we noticed yesterday. After all, they departed San Francisco on April 19. Still, the hotel they were staying at when they were captured on the census record seemed a little off the beaten track for a trip from Kansas to California: a town called Browning in Glacier County, Montana. Could they have made a slight northern detour to stop in and see about the elder man's missing brother, William Wilson?

The other interesting detail about this census snapshot was the name given to the census enumerator by Wilbur's father. We've already seen him give his name in census records as either Wilson Clendening or H. Wilson Clendening. Then, too, one passenger list showed him as Harvey Clendening. This census record, however, did the same switch we've already witnessed yesterday in the passenger list for the return trip from Honolulu. The census had him as "Mensel," likely an enumerator's attempt at capturing an uncommon name.

So, was Mansel one and the same as Harvey? I found one more record to clinch it: a city directory from back in 1900, listing a printer—and our Clendening man had listed his occupation that way in some census records—by the name of Harvey M. W. Clendening.

I'll buy an M for Mansel and a W for Wilson.

Even so, that only tells me Harvey Clendening is the same person as Mansel Clendening. It still doesn't assure me that either Clendening name was once that of a Wilson.

Above: Entry from the 1940 US Census for Mansel and Wilbur Clendening in Glacier County, Montana; courtesy


  1. If Mansel and Harvey are the same person - it would explain why we thought they were twins.. this search is so complicated!

    1. And...if that is so, it must mean that Harvey M. Wilson Clendening applied for a Social Security number twice. Remember, I have two different applications for him, done at two very different dates, each providing a different given name, and each receiving a different Social Security number. No wonder we think this search is complicated!


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