The Story of Our V.P. Name
Since the Dutch pronunciation of Van Petten sounds more like "Van Patten"
(in English), 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. The Van Patten 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 from
Schenectady, NY 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 the Van Patten name of official records and
we are awaiting family updates to clearify the proper spelling of their family
and YES, it is Van Patton in SC.
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
Frederickse (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
adding -se, -sen, or -szen for a male.
An individual could also be known by his place of origin. For example, Claas
Frederickse 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
Petten 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
Vanderzee families - he is entered in many records as Albert Andriessen de
Noorman, meaning 'the Norseman'. Albert's sons and daughters took the
surname 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,
Vrooman 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)