According to the "House of Names" website, the ancient origin of the family "Harten" is Scotish or English ("The oldests members of this family were first found in Roxburghshire were they were seated from centuries ago, believed to be there before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D."), though the said earliest written reference found of the family "von Harten" and it's spelling variations date February 15, 1215, "a Frisian parish record of the marriage of Frey-der-Rechte von Harten". According to this source, Frey-der-Rechte did not have children of his own, but was forced to adopt a stranger who would be baptized Gjorg von Harten, a mercenary that would fight for the prussian and in 1238 become one of the 12 Knights of The Holy Roman Empire that were commemmorated at the Royal Chapel at Koenigsberg. Wisely, Gjorg believed in the fact that everyone should live at least 120 years, and supposedly lived himself from 1202 to 1347. Gjorg would have married Frey-der-Rechte's niece, so his offspring would continue with the old "von Harten" blood.
Some found variations related to a Harten surname are: Van Harten (Dutch origin), Von Harten, Hartin, d'Harten, Hardin, Hardon, Harden, and many others.
With the coming centuries, surnames tend to derivate various misspelling variations that could in some cases complicate the determination of its origin and/or meaning, being the worst case when it ends up being written the same way of another family name that already exists. This last case seems to be what happened to the family name "Harten".
Some "Harten" may also be a spelling derivation of the "de Hardene" old English/Scottish surname, that came from a subject called John de Hardene, whom rendered homage to King Edward in 1296. "Harden" is the name of a civil parish and village in West Yorkshire and an area north of Walsall, wich could have derivated the surname.
The name of the place Harden is a derived from the Old English words "hara", "hare", and "denu", or "valley".
"Harten" has several meanings in german, such as "hard, rigid, stiff, strong; hard boiled; firm, stable; tough, severe; sharp, harsh, rough ". "Harten" is also a word in dutch, that means "hearts". That could be the meaning of the supposed Frisian name.
Ancestry.com defines the Harten name meaning as: "North German: patronymic from Hart 1.Dutch: from a derivative of a Germanic compound personal name beginning with hard ‘hardy’, ‘brave’, ‘strong’.Dutch (van Harten): habitational name from a place so named near Renkum, Gelderland." See on: http://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=harten
The oldest member of a German/Dutch branch of a family "Harten" that I could find on the internet was Berend Harten, born in circa 1610, in Veldhausen, Neuenhaus, Lower Saxony, Germany. He could be related to the "Von Harten" clan, of suposed frisian origin, whom then would have had a branch with the simply "Harten" variation, although to Berend's family the last name likely simply derivated from the germanic personal name meaning "hardy".
Jan Hendrik Harten (1757 - 1809) moved from Germany to Rotterdam, and introduced a branch of the family to The Netherlands, where the family grew and became a large family. Some descendants had spread through the globe.
Hendrik Weijer Harten (1882 – 1943), descendant of Jan Hendrik Harten (1757 - 1809), moved from his home land Indonesia to work in Brazil, where he married Maria Souza Jardim (Then Maria Souza Harten, 1894 - 1952) and had 10 kids. Nowadays he has a large number of descendants, in which most of them keep the surname, through patrilineal and matrilineal lineages. He also had descendants that later moved to USA.