A friend sent me this quite a while back; I thought I should share it here.
----- > My grandfather's name was KOTTKE (my aunt > told me that a schoolteacher insisted that > they spell it KATTKE, and so it has been > ever since). I have traced a great many > families with similar names, hoping to find > a link and maybe even a common source somewhere. > There are several KOE-- variations: KOETKE, > KOETCHE, etc. These seem to originate in > Hannover (I have identified Ulzen as one > particular location). ----- Jerry, that schoolteacher may have had something there. :-) ----- I think we've spoken before on this whole thing and I again want to caution you that this is fun only. You'll not be able to do empirical research on these name deriviations. We can surmise and play games with these things but language works in funny ways and we can never be sure how and why some name is what it is. We can only talk about the possibilities. ----- Your name probably is very, very ancient in origin and really goes back to cave living and the use of clubs to fend off enemies. That is the name's linguistic origin, not your ancestry. :-) ----- The german Duden tells us a bit about the etymology of Keule (club) and Kate/Kote/Kotte (cottage).It's all from the same root and really means a hole in the wall or something similar. The root is really something bent in a round way like a club or cave entrance. Use your imagination to make the linguistic connection. Kaule/Ku(h)le means hole in the earth even today. So from this concept various words grew and among them was the concept of a hut to live in which was called various names in various areas but always from the same concept and root. ----- Kate started to be used in the north German area in the 17th century. This came from an earlier Kote or Dutch Kot and English cot. The meaning was literally something other than house as we know it. It was a cobbled together place of refuge from the elements. Often a stable or very primitive hut. In the 1600s this started to be more like a hut and eventually a small house. ----- So, whether you use Kottke or Kattke or whatever close similarity, you're always referring to someone who lived in such a place and became known by the place. The KE ending could well be of Slavic influence as the name Kot/Kote was changed under local influence. The origin though is definately north German or low German. I would not worry too much about bringing all these families together as surely they were many independent origins of your namesakes. -----