The Story of Our Name
Since the Dutch pronunciation of Van Petten sounds more like "Van Patten",
it is understandable that there is confusion in the use of the name.  Most, if not
all families used the
Van Petten spelling prior to the Revolutionary War. Van
spelling of our name after the American Revolution of 1776 came about
because of a possible clerical error.  Our patriotic fore-fathers were granted
Land Bounty Rights (free land) for their part in fighting the British but, a
Quartermaster or the Company Scribe misspelled the name as Van "Patten",
due to the way it was pronounced with the still heavy Dutch accent.  To
receive the land grants and benefits due them after serving with the Army of
the newly formed United States, they had to adopt the spelling as it was written
in the official company records.  Further confusion arose after 1800 due, in all
probability, to the similarity of the handwritten letters "
r" and "n", thus we now
have the
Van Patter families of Ontario, Canada and Iowa, U.S.A. (written by
Frances I. (Van Patter) Hindmarsh).

Recently, a new branch of the Van Patten family of Schenectady, NY has been
located in the Spartanburg and Greenville counties of South Carolina due to the
migration of Nicholas Viele Van Patten (1803-1889) who went south to make
his fortune in the milling industry.  Through this patriarch comes a whole new
family line; the
Van Patton family that records still to this day intermingle with
Van Patten name of official records and we are awaiting family updates to
clearify the proper spelling of their family.


The Dutch were much slower than the English in adopting surnames as we
know them.  
Patronymics ended theoretically under English rule in 1687 with
the advent of surnames. (the Engish needed last names for TAXation reasons)
Patronymics is the naming of children after the father's first name (because
they had no last name).

The most common Dutch naming custom was that of patronymics, or
identification of an individual based on the father's name.  For example
, Claas
(1641-1728) is named after his father Frederick Albertse
(abt.1610), who is named after his father
Albert Albertse (abt.1580), who is
named after his father
Albert (abt.1565).  The patronymic was formed by
-se, -sen, or -szen for a male.

An individual could also be known by his place of origin.  For example
, Claas
is now known as "Van Petten", meaning 'from Petten' (Petten).
Petten was a small fishing village on the north coast of Holland, the
Netherlands at the time of Claas' birth).  Now you have
Claas Frederickse Van
and you now know by his name that Claas is the son of Frederick and
that he came from Petten.  The place-origin name could be a nationality, as in
the case of
Albert Andriessen from Norway, originator of the Bradt and
families - he is entered in many records as Albert Andriessen de
, meaning 'the Norseman'.  Albert's sons and daughters took the
Bradt except for his son Storm, born on the Atlantic Ocean during the
families sailing to the New World.  Storm adopted the surname
Van Der Zee
(from the sea) and this is the name his decendants carry.

An individual might be known by a personal characteristic, for example
means a pious or wise man and De Witt means the white one.

Schermerhorn (pronounced Scare-mer-horn) is Dutch for a point of land at a
clear lake and was/is also a commercial town of note in Holland.

                                    (The basis of this was written by Lorine McGinnis Schulze)
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