Guardian of Cullman’s history, Elaine Fuller

Cullman County Museum

“We were honored to induct Elaine into the Alabama Tourism Hall of Fame in August,” said state tourism director Lee Sentell.  “She has been a tourism leader for Cullman, north Alabama and our entire state for the last three decades.”

CULLMAN – Cullman County Museum Curator, Elaine Fuller, might just have the corner on awards lately. In September 2015, she was inducted into the Mountain Lakes Hall of Fame for her efforts in encouraging tourists to visit north Alabama. In August 2016, she was inducted into the Alabama State Tourism Hall of Fame at the Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Orange Beach. The award was bestowed on Fuller for her tireless efforts to promote tourism, for her work in making Oktoberfest one of the largest attractions in this area and for her dedication to making the Cullman County Museum a destination for 10,000-12,000 people annually. State Tourism Director, Lee Sentell, presented the award.

Perhaps her greatest achievement is not one that has been recognized as an honor as of yet. She would certainly win, if it were.  That award might be called, “Easiest Job Transition” and it would be awarded to Fuller because when she started this job, she only intended to fill in for the museum curator for a couple of weeks. However, what was intended to be a short-term, part-time job… turned into a  31- year career for  Fuller, who is still hard at work, making sure that things run smoothly at the Cullman County Museum.

“When Margaret Farr asked me to fill in because she was in the hospital, I agreed,” Fuller recalled.

After Farr’s sad and untimely passing, Cullman Mayor Jack Sides called Fuller into his office and asked if she would consider taking the job full-time.

“When I agreed, he handed me two boxes of slides taken on his trip to Germany. I was to make a presentation of them, and we didn’t even have a computer at the time,” she said.

Over the years, Fuller has had the opportunity to see and do many things that have greatly impacted the preservation of much of Cullman’s rich history. In one instance, she was part of a group who buried a time capsule containing information pertaining to historical events from 1873-1973. The capsule was sealed in a rock container designed and made by Frank Schwaiger. Fuller was responsible for collecting the material enclosed in the capsule, which is scheduled to be opened in 2073.

The museum was opened in its present location in 1975. Home to many authentic pieces of Col. Cullman’s furnishings and belongings, the museum also boasts one of the oldest pieces of antiquity in north Alabama, the Harris Rocker Stamped Pot, the museum’s most prized possession, which dates back to between 450-600 A.D.

According to Fuller, the museum’s most popular display is the extensive Civil War collection. “We also have a video filmed on the site of the Battle of Crooked Creek,” she said.

In the aftermath of Oktoberfest, one which, by the way, eclipsed all past Oktoberfests in revenue and attendance, Fuller and her staff are already gearing up for the busy holiday season just ahead.

“There is always something going on here,” said Fuller. “We always say that every day is different at the Big M!

“We have two churches that meet here now, one on Wednesday and the other on Thursdays,” said Fuller. “The Nimble Thimble group meets here every second Friday, and the Sew and Rip It Club on the third Friday of each month. Two events have recently been rescheduled or canceled. The regular Friends of Frankweiler meeting has been moved to January, and author Charlotte Thomas March’s reading and book signing has been indefinitely postponed due to illness in the family,” Fuller explained.   

Fuller and her staff are abuzz with excitement about the 2019 Alabama Bicentennial. Staff member Drew Green has been appointed by Cullman Mayor Max A. Townson as the local chairman for the event.

“The event will kick off in March 2019,” Green explained. “But we are already planning and getting ready for it. The Bicentennial will be celebrated in several places throughout the state, including Cullman.”

Visiting the Cullman County Museum is always a treat, even if you’ve been before, there is usually something new to see or some event or display that is being showcased. It is one of Cullman’s jewels, thanks to Elaine Fuller’s dedication.

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