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Gotta say, curling is not high up there on my sports to watch, mostly because I know nothing about it. So I was surprised to read a few days ago that curling started in Scotland.

Curlers in Scotland

1860: Curlers on the ice in Ayrshire, Scotland

Until early adulthood, I can’t say I’d even heard of the game. But other Scottish hobbies or traditions were not passed down, so why should I be surprised about this? My Scottish ancestors were only 4 generations back, yet while growing up I was never told about them.

It wasn’t until I got into genealogy that I discovered my Scottish heritage. I was almost shocked because other nationalities WERE discussed and taught to me as a child.

Odd WisconsinBut I digress. According to Odd Wisconsin, a part of the Wisconsin Historical Society’s website, curling’s roots started during the 19th Century in Scotland. It was brought over by Scottish immigrants. For a period curling nearly died out in America, but when ice-making was invented in the 1930s, it’s popularity was revived.

In Wisconsin it used to be played on the rivers. On New Year’s Eve in 1850, the first curling match supposedly was played on the Wisconsin River by “a reminiscing band of Scotsmen, full of nostalgia and perhaps of New Year spirits!”

Play started in DePere on the Fox River when Robert Jackson, a Scotsman, brought it over when he immigrated from Scotland in 1848.

By the early 1890s, the first granite stones were imported from Scotland. Modern curling stones are still made of granite from Scotland (Ailsa Craig, an island off the Ayrshire coast) or Wales (the Trefor Granite Quarry).

All of which makes me wonder, did my ancestors play curling in the Old World? If so, did the tradition carry over in the New World? Did they become too busy eking out a living to continue their old games? Or did they just become Americanized?

Curlers in Scotland

1853: Curling club in Perthshire, Scotland

You can read the whole Odd Wisconsin curling article here.