Written by Cameron Steer
In researching the rich history of Scots involvement in the growth of the game of Soccer here in America, I came across the founding fathers of the game, the Kearny Scots, based in New Jersey. However, the depth of Scottish heritage in Kearny doesn’t just stop at soccer, in fact the generations of Scots who have settled there and raised their families in the town have created a profound sense of community interlaced with Scottish traditions and history.
Kearny, New Jersey is a town with a rich Scottish heritage. Located in the northern part of the state, Kearny was founded in 1867 and named after General Philip Kearny, a Union Army officer who fought in the American Civil War. However, the town’s history stretches back much further, to the early 17th century when Scottish immigrants began settling in the area.
The first Scottish settlers in Kearny were members of the Caldwell family, who arrived in 1668 and established a farm in the area. They were followed by a wave of other Scottish immigrants, many of whom were attracted by the fertile land and abundant resources of the region. These early settlers brought with them their strong sense of community, their love of education, and their pride in their Scottish heritage.
Throughout the years, Kearny has maintained a strong connection to its Scottish roots. The town is home to a number of organizations and events that celebrate Scottish culture, including the Kearny Scottish American Club, the Kearny Kiltie Band, and the Kearny Highland Games. The Kearny Highland Games, held annually in August, is a day-long event that features traditional Scottish music, dancing, and athletics, such as caber tossing and stone throwing.
Pipers Cove has made a reputation for itself as a center for high quality kilt hire and piping supplies John Nisbet from Musselburgh, Scotland who founded the business with his wife, sadly passed away in 2019, his son Collin is now the head of bagpipe sales. Pipers Cove contribute enormously to the Tartan Week Celebrations in NYC as Collin now heads up the Tunes of Glory mass band for the NY Tartan Day Parade. Kearny used to be famed for having some of the best fish and chips for miles at the old Argyle Fish and Chip Restaurant which was a beloved local eatery in Kearny, New Jersey. Established in 1971, the restaurant had been serving up delicious seafood dishes for over 50 years. At Argyle, diners could enjoy a variety of fresh seafood options, including fish and chips, shrimp, scallops, and lobster. The restaurant also offered a selection of non-seafood dishes, such as burgers and sandwiches, as well as a variety of sides and desserts. In addition to its indoor dining area, Argyle had a charming outdoor patio, making it a great spot to enjoy a meal on a nice day. With its tasty food and friendly atmosphere, Argyle Fish and Chip Restaurant was a staple of the Kearny community. Unfortunately they had to close their doors in 2019 so the community has lost its most traditional fish and chip shop!
Lucky for seafood lovers, there’s a plethora of seafood restaurants around the area, no doubt also inspired by the Scottish heritage of the town. Among these restaurants is Hook and Reel Seafood Bar is a popular seafood restaurant located in Kearny, New Jersey. Established in 2018, the restaurant has quickly become a local favorite for its fresh, delicious seafood and friendly atmosphere. At Hook and Reel, diners can enjoy a variety of seafood dishes, including oysters, clams, lobster, and crab, as well as non-seafood options like burgers and sandwiches. The restaurant also has a full bar, with a selection of craft beers, wines, and cocktails. In addition to its indoor dining area, Hook and Reel has a spacious outdoor patio, making it a great spot to enjoy a meal in the warmer months. With its delicious food and welcoming atmosphere, Hook and Reel Seafood Bar is a must-visit destination for seafood lovers in Kearny and beyond.
Kearny is also home to the historic Kearny Presbyterian Church, which was founded in 1869 by Scottish immigrants and has served as a center of worship and community for over 150 years. The church, which is located on the corner of Kearny and Belgrove Avenues, features a distinctive Scottish-style steeple and stained glass windows.
In addition to its cultural and historical significance, Kearny’s Scottish heritage has also had a lasting impact on the town’s economy. The town is home to several businesses that are owned and operated by descendants of Scottish immigrants, including Kearny Bank, which was founded in 1884 by a group of Scottish businessmen.
Overall, Kearny’s Scottish heritage is an integral part of the town’s identity and has played a significant role in shaping its history, culture, and economy. From its early settlers to the present day, Kearny has proudly celebrated and preserved its Scottish roots.