Over the years, there have been many different spellings of the Otteni / Otney / Ottney / Oatney name. Ten variations have been found to date. Besides the four spellings used today, earlier variations included: OTTNE, OTTENE, OTTINE, OTTINEY, OTTONI, and OATTNEY. However, the original German spelling, found on German records and signatures on early land transactions in the United States, was OTTENI. In fact, there are many families in Urloffen, Germany that still spell their name OTTENI.
The vowel ending of the original OTTENI name suggests that the origin is other than German. As German family lore endorses, and the spelling indicates, the name and family most probably came from Italy. From the German book "Heimatbuch der Germeinde Urloffen", the author writes that the Otteni family settled in Urloffen Germany about 1676 indicating a move to this area of Germany.
Most of people living in the United States today that spell the name OATNEY, OTNEY, OTTNEY and OTTENI descend from the same family in Urloffen, Germany.
Benedict Otteni, the progenitor of most OATNEY and OTNEY family members in the United States today, was born in Urloffen, Germany on 19 March 1793. Urloffen was the main settlement area for the Otteni's in Germany, however others lived in nearby Nussbach, and Renchen Germany.
The descendants of Benedict in the U.S. spell their name OATNEY and OTNEY. Benedict and family settled in mid Ohio in the early 1830s and raised 11 children. Many descendants still live in the Ohio area. Those family members using the alternate spelling of OTNEY live mostly in the Kansas area of the U.S. In most cases, the pronunciation is the same for either spelling.
Family members in the U.S. spelling their name OTTENI are descendants of Theodor Otteni (1844-1911) and his wife Theresia (Wörner) (1846-1927). They came to the United States from Urloffen, Germany in 1872. Theodor settled in the northwestern part of Pennsylvania and engaged in farming. He and his wife raised 12 children with many descendants still living in the area.
OTTNEY family members descend from Anton Otteni. Anton (1786-1865) and his wife, Barbara Schneider, also came to the United States in the 1830's. The family first settled in New York State but later moved to northwest Ohio.
The following is a quick graphic of how the families in the U.S. are related. (View with full screen)