The story of the creation of Cullman County in the post Civil War South has been the subject of propaganda and myth that has gone far beyond Alabama. German immigrants from Cincinnati, Ohio, founded an agricultural community that traditional accounts credit with bringing about an agricultural revolution in what had been a frontier area, in the best traditions of innovation in the New South. The reality of Cullman County’s history proves more valuable to understanding southern farming than the rosy legends. Hard geographical and social realties clashed with the often impractical vision of colonizer John G. Cullmann. His Germans, with their traditional work ethic and willingness to experiment with such new products as wine and strawberries, did try, sometimes unsuccessfully, to make practical changes in southern farming. Far more families from neighboring Georgia answered Cullmann’s call, and they implemented the traditional southern cotton culture. Living among both groups were local white and black farm families from before the arrival of the Germans who also struggled in their own ways to survive. How these groups failed, succeeded, and remained outlines just how limited could be the success of even the best laid plans in what remained all too much a part of the traditional South.

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