ARCHIVES: The 'Rotan Encyclopedia'

A listing of Rotton / Rotan / Rattan/ Roden/ Rhoden Names in South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Illinois, and Missouri from 1701-1901


The following notes are arranged as a name-line, rather than a timeline. The entries are arranged alphabetically by first name. The research was gathered over the last two decades and the work is documented. The goal of this project was to identify the connection between people named Rotan (and its many variations and surnames allied to Rotton/Rotan/Rattan/Roden/Rhoden families) during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the Southern United States. The truth is that I wanted to learn the origin of William Rotton/Rotan (1762 North Carolina-1841 White County, Tennessee) and these notes are directed toward that goal.

No names are listed that appeared in Edgefield County, South Carolina, because those people were proven to be unrelated to this goal long ago. Therefore, this is not a listing of every Rotton name or its variants in the Southern United States.

There are many examples of intermarriage among these descendants and their allied families. We are all more kin than we thought.

Please feel free to place any or all of these people in proper order and report any errors I have made for correction.


A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  F  |  G  |  H  |  J  |  K-L  |  M  |  N  |  O-P  |  R  |  S  |  T  |  V-W


It is little bits and pieces of information strung together that eventually separate one anonymous historical character from another who has that same name. After years of work on people with this surname and all its variants, it was a small notation written down years ago that isolated William Rotton/Rotan (1762-1841 White County, Tennessee) from a field of many other men with that same name who were connected to just as many other men named John Rotton.

On 08 March 1790, Wm. Rotten witnessed a deed for Wills [Wells] Griffith, the father of Dan Griffith, who later married Margaret Rotan, daughter of William Rotton/Rotan (1762-1841). It was the county that was significant. It was Spartanburg County, South Carolina. [Spartanburg County/District, South Carolina Deed Book B:339-340]

On 12 May 1791, "John Rotton, Sr., and William Rotton, Sr., brothers of South Carolina" sold 300 acres of land to Edward Ballanger of Spartanburg District/County, South Carolina. John Rotton received the land in "Mechlinburgh [Mecklenburg] County, North Carolina" from Governor William Tryon of North Carolina as a grant at an unknown date. [To determine the date of this grant, one must consider the dates that Mecklenburg County existed before the survey and the years that Tryon was governor. Those years were 1765 through 1771. It is a fact that the men known as John Rottan, Sr., and William Rottan, Sr., were brothers and they were sons of Richard Rotten (1720s-by 1772),. Next, we must determine if William Rotton, Sr. was the father of William Rotton (1762-1841), who settled in White County, Tennessee, after living in Barren County, Kentucky. [Spartanburg County, South Carolina Deed Book B: 533-534]

To understand the 1791 deed, it is important that the researcher understand the history of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and the history of the Carolina colonies. Although the southern part of the old proprietary colony organized itself as a royal colony in 1719, the lawless northern portion was not separated formally from the southern region until 1729, when that area also became a royal colony, known as North Carolina. However, no official boundary survey was made between the two colonies until 1772. During the 43-year period from 1729 until 1772, the boundary between the two colonies was not clearly defined.

A part of that undefined area was known as Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, which had been formed in 1762. In 1768, Mecklenburg County was divided to create Tryon County, North Carolina. Tryon County existed until 1779, when is was abolished to form Rutherford and Lincoln counties in North Carolina. However, Tryon County, North Carolina, from its formation in 1768 until the border survey of 1772, included all or portions of the South Carolina counties of Spartanburg, Cherokee, York, Lancaster, Greenville, Laurens, Union, Newberry, and Chester. That is, all or parts of the area included in the above named counties were in North Carolina before 1772. [For more details, see Gaston-Lincoln Regional Library System, online, accessed 05 November 2004; also The State Library of North Carolina, online, accessed 05 November 2004] Spartanburg County, South Carolina, was created in 1762 from Anson County and Anson County was created in 1750 from Bladen, which was created from New Hanover and Bath counties. Bath had been discontinued in 1696, but New Hanover was created in 1729 from Craven County, that old Carolina royal county that spread across parts of both Carolinas. [The Handy Book for Genealogists, 7th edition, edited by George B. Everton, Sr. (Logan, UT: The Everton Publisher, Inc., 1981), 209-216; 253-260]

Another important deed was executed on 02 October 1772, when "John Rottan and Sithana, his wife of Craven County, sold to "James Martin of same" 250 acres of land with William Rotten as one of the witnesses. This John Rottan had inherited the land from Richard Rotten, who was granted it on 11 February 1756. The record states that John Rotten "has good, sure and indefensible estate of inheritance in fee simple" [filed in Fairfield County, South Carolina Deed Book B: 232; I must give credit to Dorles Repass for showing me this record; although, I had it in my notes, I had never compared it with other notes to place the Rottan men in Craven and Spartanburg counties of South Carolina.]

The importance of this deed is that it identifies this John with a wife named Sithana, or Sythana, as the same John Rottan in Barren County, Kentucky, with a wife who had the same unusual name. This record ties the Rottan men of Barren County, Kentucky, to Spartanburg County, South Carolina, where they lived earlier.

— Researcher: Julia Cauble Smith