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Friday, March 17, 2006

Whence Botkinburg?

Nobody's quite sure how the town of Botkinburg, Arkansas, got its name. One theory has it that 19th-century German settlers named it for their hometown, but the only close matches in the old country are "Bad Driburg" and "Bad Iburg." Another theory states that it was named for a guy named Botkinburg.

He was a German doctor and teacher, some locals say, and back in the 1800s, parents would take their kids “to Botkinburg” for schooling. The name stuck.
Great theory, except that no one of that name seems ever to have lived in town. There was a William Boykin, but he was a farmer. And wasn't German.

Daniel Botkin is the only "Botkin" listed in Arkansas telephone directories, and thinks these theories sound plausible.
And one more thing about those theories, Botkin adds: Botkin isn’t a German name. It’s Russian and Anglo-Saxon, he says.

He’s right, according to houseofnames. com.

Botkin, the Web site says, “was a name given to a maker or seller of knives. The surname Botkin comes from the Old English word bodkin, which is also spelled bodekin, and refers to a short, pointed weapon or dagger.” [Link]

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