This surname of VAN PATTEN is a Flemish, German and Dutch topographic name for someone who lived by a well or pond. The name was originally derived from the Old German word PFUTZE, and rendered in ancient documents in the Latin form PUTEUS. Other spellings of the name include PUTZ, VAN DEN PUT, VAN DEN PUTTEN, PUTTEN and PUTTER. Ancestors who originally lived near a spring or water well, which was a natural source of water in medieval times, were known in Germany as PUTZ. A spring of pure water might be worshipped and the place referred to as a holy place. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village in early times, has served to name many families. Surnames which were derived from ancient Germanic personal names have the same meaning in many languages. Dutchmen who have surnames from towns, cities or districts, are mostly distinguished by the prefix VAN. In the United States the use of capital and initial letters and spaces is optional with the particular family. The Dutch language is most closely related to Low German, and its surnames have been influenced both by German and French naming practices. The preposition 'van' is found especially with habitation names, and the 'de' mainly with nicknames. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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