Arterburn

  • 9 members

About us



The single most compelling research question for ARTERBURN descendants 
that remains unanswered:  If Peter Arterburn was of "East Indian" or South 
Asian (patrilineal) descentas historical sources attest and Y-DNA testing 
clearly supports (as opposed to Native American or African or European  
descent), then how did Peter come by the "Atterburn/Arterburn" surname?
Since there is no apparent history for "Atterburn" or "Arterburn" in Europe
or the British Isles, it seems unlikely that either spelling could have been
the actual form of an Old World surname.


And the corollary questions:   Was Peter the son of the "East Indian"
indentured servant, John Williamsas the name, "Peter Atterburn alias 
Williams," in Charles County Court records (1736) suggests?  Could

"Atterburn" or "Arterburn" represent the ancestral surname of Peter's

mother or the mother of his father, although spelled differently?

Did Peter simply adopt a new surname for some reason unknown

to us?


   The pronunciation of the "Otterburn" surname with its anomalous

   variations of spelling found in 19th-century English census records 

   are remarkably similar to the variations in spelling of Peter's surname

   as recorded in 18th-century public records of Maryland and Virginia.

   In 19th-century England, speakers of  English (RP) pronounced "ar"

   with broad A (as in "father") without the sound of "r" (non-rhotic),

   but supplied the "r" in spelling for common words of ordinary speech

   (as in "card" and "arse").  This speech sound of broad A could easily

   be confused with the sound of short O (as in "otter") and vice versa

   especially when names were spelled from vocalization, as illustrated

   by these examples of anomalous spellings in England and America 

   (see also Some Research Notes (7th ed.), pp. 29-46; pp. 61-70).  

   The "Great Vowel Shift" that resulted in English (RP) had begun in

   the 16th century, and also impacted the evolution of American

   English in Maryland and Virginia.

  

   The earliest spelling (1773) we have in Shenandoah County is of

   "Peter Otterburn" in Henry's record of baptism, which agrees with  

   the broad A sound heard in "Arterburn."  Some transcriptions of

   "Atterburn" (e.g., when not in an alphabetical list, originally) could

   just as easily have been transcribed as "Otterburn," since examples

   of cursive capitals "A" and "O" (without an upper loop) can be found

   that are virtually indistinguishable.  Broad A (not short A) was almost

   certainly intended for "Atterburn" in those instances where "A" may 

   have been originally rendered, although a deviation in spelling since

   a short vowel typically precedes double consonants.  Variability in

   grammar and spelling skills is abundantly evident in 18th-century

   public records and must be taken into account.  "Atterburn" (as

   transcribed) is found exclusively for Peter in Maryland and predom-

   inantly for both Peter and William in Prince William County, which

   suggests that "r" may not have been heard (as confirmed also by

   "Otterburn") in Peter's pronunciation, originally.


      Could there have been an unconscious bias that favored 

      A instead of O when personal names were spelled from

      vocalization, simply because the sound of broad A may

      have been more commonly heard in ordinary speech, 

      and also typically spelled more often than short O at

      the beginning of names, by those who heard Peter and

      recorded his surname?  Might Peter actually have been

      pronouncing "Otterburn" instead?

  

   The evidence is clear that Peter's patrilineal ancestors could not

   have been English (or Scottish) "Otterburns."   Could Peter's mother

   have been an "Otterburn?"  There is no history of "Otterburns" in

   the public records of colonial Maryland or Virginia, but there remains

   the possibility that Peter's mother might have been an indentured

   servant without any surviving documentary record.  Could the mother

   of Peter's father have been an "Otterburn?"  This also must remain

   a possibility, given the longstanding history of India's relations with

   the English and the East India Company, since 1600.


   What are we to make of the tradition of German ancestry reported

   by a majority of the descendants interviewed by Art & Jan Arterburn,

   or of the related claim of Swiss ancestry for the ARTERBURNS by a

   Shenandoah County historian?  Could Peter's wife, Sarah, or his 

   previous wife in Maryland have been the source of this tradition?

   Germans were the majority population in Shenandoah County, and

   Peter clearly associated with Germans (e.g., "Henry Speelman, John

   Woolf, Samuel Stover").  Some of the children of Peter and William 

   and their descendants intermarried with German and German-Swiss

   families  (e.g., Booker, Carrier, Houn, Smoote, Wey, Wolfe)  in

   Virginia and Kentucky. 

  

   The anomalous rendering of  "Peter Arturberner" (and "Arterbern," 

   once) in Shenandoah County was probably related, though more

   likely a case of imputed identity, given what we now know.  "Arter"

   and "Bern" and "Berner" are authentic Swiss/German surnames

   found in early southern Germany and northern Switzerland.  But this

   compound rendering apparently cobbled from the sound of Peter's

   name has no history as a surname in either Germany or Switzerland.

   Also, darkly complected Germans (e.g., "Black-Dutch") from southern

   Germany and northern Switzerland were present in northern Virginia.

   Peter's physical appearance and the fact that he was supporting in

   court a German, Henry Speelman (a name also found in Switzerland,

   incidentally), when this early spelling occurred (1774) might have

   suggested such an identity to the clerk who recorded his name.  

   (German long A (as in "hard") is very similar in sound to English

   broad A and English short O.)    The evidence seems clear that

   Peter's patrilineal ancestors were not German or Swiss.  However,

   Peter's support of Speelman and his apparent connections with

   other German families suggest some kind of German identity, 

   very possibly derived from Peter's wife, Sarah.


   "Arturberner" probably does not tell us anything about the origin

   of our surname, but does mark the beginning of the emergence of

   "Arterburn" as the predominant spelling found in public records of

   Shenandoah County. ("Arterburn" occurs only twice in Prince William

   Countyin Glassford's accounts, for Peter.)  Whether this particular

   spelling became the final form of our surname due in large part to 

   German-American influence and a family preference for a German

   identity is impossible to know for sure.  The origin of the tradition

   of our German ancestry and the origin of our surname are likely

   not related, otherwise.  




       The formulation, "Peter Atterburn alias Williams," has not been

       found subsequently in Charles County Court records.  Although
       earlier records that are available have not been searched, this
       entry (1736) may reflect Peter's (b. 1711, age 25) first court 
       appearance and a statement of Peter's bona fides as a free man 
       with standing before the court.  "[A]lias Williams" suggests that  
       the court may have relied on the previously adjudicated status  
       of John Williams in this court (1706/7), during which Williams 
       was declared free of his indenture, as surety for Peter's status.
       Once Peter's credentials were established before the court,
       there may have been no further need to declare this extended
       formulation in subsequent court records, which could explain
       its singular occurrence.
   
       We also have the account of John Gardiner pointing out his 
       (Nonesuch) property boundaries to Peter around this same
       time (1736/7), as attested in Peter's later court deposition   
       (1748).  Is this a clue that Peter may have been new to
       Nonesuchperhaps even to tobacco farming?   
      
       Johannah Hodgson had purchased John Williams' contract of
       indenture from "Mr. [Edward] Mann," who appears in court
       records of Talbot County, MD (search MSA online; also, see
       "Benjamin Guy alias Williams ... a freeman" in Talbot County
       Court, March 1730/1).  Could these be clues that Peter had 
       recently arrived in or returned to Charles County, and/or 
       that he might have had family ties in Talbot County?



Listed below are some resources that may assist further research:


                      RootsWeb/Marshall:  "Early Colonial Settlers of Southern Maryland and
                      Northern Neck Counties" (continually updated)


 
John Williams in Charles County Court  (12 November 1706,
              
       George Williams in Charles County Court (13 June 1733): 
        

"George Williams son and heir to William who intermarried

with a Pamunkey Indian Queen named Elizabeth of Prince

George's County ....  John Ward aged 75 deposeth that he 

has known George Williams a Native Indian from his infancy 

... son of the Queen of Pamunkey who was wife to an Indian


     [Note:  The terms "intermarried" and "Native Indian" 

     in contrast with "Indian" suggests that George Williams'

     father may have been an East Indian rather than a 

     Native American.  Could George Williams' father and

     John Williams have been one and the same?  Could

     George Williams' father also have been the father of

     "Peter Atterburn alias Williams?"  If so, might Peter 

     have adopted a different surname for some reason

     unknown to us?  Perhaps George's status as "heir"

     might have been a factor.  If Elizabeth was Peter's

     mother, this might explain the naming of the early 

     20th-century "Otterburn School" (Otterburn Precinct,

     today) to honor a "tribe of Indians" who had previously

     inhabited the area.  The school was located where 

     Peter's family is known to have lived in Shenandoah

     County, Virginia (in Warren County, today).  Perhaps

     this was not garbled local tradition resulting only from

     the memory of Peter's "East Indian" ancestry after all,

     but actually a reflection of local memory of a Native

     American ancestry for the ARTERBURNS, as well.  It

     might even be the case that family tradition about

     William and Nancy in which Nancy was remembered 

     as a "full-blooded Indian" might actually refer back 

     to William and Elizabeth instead.]


"called Mc [?] William the father of the said Geo. Williams ...

that 31 years ago George Williams and his parents lived

where Fran[ci]s Payne now lives ... John Gar[di]ner deposed

the Indians were forted in Cornwallis' neck about fifty years

ago ..."  (see Heinegg's complete transcription)

      
               (Underline, italics, and bracketed contents above added)             

      (Note:  Here we have John Gardiner of Nonesuch

      testifying in court in support of a land claim of 

      George Williams, whose family had lived in the 

      same community of Mattawoman (see below also). 

      If Peter belonged to this Williams family and had

      had a longstanding acquaintance with Gardiner,

      this could explain why we find Peter at Nonesuch

      in 1736/7.)


   "Received from Francis Payn[e], Peter Atterburn" (1744)
  
           
                "John Gardiner, age ca 72; mentions he has known
                Mattawoman 40 years then called St. Thomas' Fresh;
                mentions Old Indian Field ..." 

              
   "Francis Pain, age 29 years; mentions Henry Ward ..."

   John Ward ... mentions his father, John Ward, Sr.,
                dec'd, his Pamunkey land ..."



                      Who exactly was the "William Davis" who provided "security"
                      for credit with Glassford (see Dumfries Stores Index) for "Peter     
                      Atterbirn"— landlord, employer, benefactor, relative/in-law,
                      or some combination of these?

"William Davis" in Colonial Maryland and Virginia 


"William Davis" in the census of Dunmore County (1775)
in district #4 adjacent to that (#3) of Peter and William
(see Supplemental Notes, Appendix #7, p. 598)

"Henry Tanner" and "William Davis" in Charles County
                Court Records, March 1738/9 Court, Liber T#2, Page 537.

                    "Henry Tanner, age about 89, declares that about 
                     30 years ago, he lived on the Plantation now in the
                     possession of Thomas Stone ...."
                    
                   "William Davis, age about 70, declares that about 
                    40 years past, he remembers a bounded white oak 
                    which stood very near the place mentioned in Henry
                    Tanner's deposition ...."
              
                   (RootsWeb/Marshall ID:   I012916 and I009797)

"William Davis Arterburn" (1855-1931)   (see Cousins, p. 380)


What connection if any between "Presley Davis" and 
"Presley Arterburn," or "Elijah Davis" and "Elijah
       Arterburn," and Peter's "William Davis?


                      "Jesse Davis"  (RootsWeb/Marshall ID: I051076)

                      "Jesse Davis"  (RootsWeb/Marshall ID: I046252)

                         w.p. Nelson County, KY (adjacent to Jefferson County)

                      

                      
               

               Might Peter Arterburn's distinctive personal mark of three wavy 
               lines have reflected memories of his youth working as a sailor 
               or fisherman, or just nostalgia for an earlier life near the coastal  
               waters of the Chesapeake in Maryland, or of something else?
               
                              
                              "The wavy line is a common sign for water,
                              watercourse, water surface, and the sea."                             
                                (Symbols: Encyclopedia of Western Signs
                                and Ideograms / Carl G Liungman)

                              Tobacco Coast:  A Maritime History of Chesapeake
                                Bay in the Colonial Era / Arthur Pierce Middleton

                             "John Gardiner" (of "Nonesuch")  

                                (RootsWeb/Marshall ID: I047926)

                             "Captain John Gardiner," "mariner"
  
                                (RootsWeb/Marshall ID: I053395)                          

                                   


                       
 



Family Search:  Charles County, Maryland Genealogy

Family Search:  Talbot County, Maryland Genealogy


MSA:  County (Jurisdiction) Government Records

MSA:  Search the Maryland State Archives Online





Wikipedia:  Haplogroup R-M17  (R1a1)

Eupedia:  Haplogroup R1a

National Geographic Society:  Genographic Project

Smithsonian/NMNH:  Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation

Native Heritage Project:  East Indians in Early Colonial Records

Miss America 2014:  Nina Davuluri

ABC News:  Indian Ancestry of Princess Diana