Cullman, Alabama, was founded by Col. John Gottfried Cullmann. Col. Cullmann, a German refugee who came to America in 1866. While working at a bookstore in Cincinnati, Ohio, he began formulating ideas of a special colony of working people, specifically a place for immigrants from countries such as his native Germany. He read about the vast unsettled lands in the South, and bought passage on a boat to Florence, AL. There he met with Governor Patton and presented his idea. The Governor furnished men and horses for him to explore available lands in North Alabama.

He finally met with Lewis Fink, the land agent for the great North-South Railroad (later the L&N), which had just built a line through the wilderness from Decatur to Montgomery. After a careful survey, he contracted with the railroad for 349,000 acres with the stipulation that Col. Cullmann would pay for all advertising of the land and other expenses incurred in bringing the desired immigrants to the area. Col. Cullmann found the area to be perfect for his dream colony. Col. Cullmann then went back north and began to advertise for colonists. In April of 1873, the first five families came by train to the spot where Cullman now stands. Each was allotted a plot of ground. The colony quickly grew, with American citizens and German immigrants moving to the area. In the middle of 1874, an election was held to incorporate the town. With 30 votes cast, there were 23 for incorporation and 7 against. It was also decided that the town would be called “Cullman” after its founder, but with only one “n.”

At that time, the Cullman area was part of Blount, Winston, Morgan, and Walker counties. A movement was started in 1876 to create a new county, but the idea was met with opposition from the other counties. In that day, an area was required to have a population of more than 9,500 before it could be considered for the creation of a new county. With the population requirement being met, Cullman County was formed in 1877 by the state legislature.

For the next 20 years, Col. Cullmann was instrumental in the growth of Cullman and Cullman County. He would bring in groups of settlers, sell them land, and then use that money to send back to Germany for more settlers. Between 1871 and 1895, Col. Cullmann brought more than 100,000 immigrants to the South from Europe and other parts of the United States.


Frankweiler, Germany, was the hometown of our founder, Col. John G. Cullmann. A permanent partnership was formed in 1987 between Cullman and Frankweiler. Since that time, there have been many visits between our two communities by members of the Cullman Friends of Frankweiler and Frankweiler Friends of Cullman groups. Frankweiler is situated on the eastern slopes of the Haardt Mountains, about 6 km north of Landau “The Garden Town.” It is a municipality in Sűdliche Weinstrasse district in Rhineland-Palatinate in western Germany.