The first 5 families

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Mary and Herman Alberding were among the first five families to settle in what is now Cullman. (Cullman County Museum)

The city of Cullman is gearing up to celebrate its German heritage during this week’s Oktoberfest festivities, and while many are aware of the city’s founder, John G. Cullmann, some might not know that written stories of Cullmann’s arrival mention that he came with five families. Who were those five families? The Tribune asked Drew Green, director of the Cullman County Museum.

The first five families came in 1873 from Cincinnati, Ohio with Cullmann. According to an old Tribune clipping from 1939, “Cullmann had persuaded these five to be the first to pioneer with him in the hills of North Alabama.” The families were Mr. and Mrs. Christopher D. Scheuing and their son Fred, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Betz, Mr. and Mrs. Strahl, Mr. and Mrs. Reed, Mr. and Mrs. Alberding and Mr. Renie Von Lobstein. Lobstein is said to be of French descent and a bachelor.

From a 1939 edition of The Cullman Tribune:

Mr. Scheuing purchased quite a bit of property and built his first home on the corner of First Ave. West and Third St. (where old Alabama Hotel now stands) It was here that his first son, Christopher Columbus, was born, the second male child born in the colony.

The Cullman County Courthouse stands on property donated to the county for that purpose by Mr. Scheuing. He, C.D. Scheuing, established an undertaking business and livery stable. He was Cullman’s first embalmer and served as coroner for several years.

Mr. Betz became very much a leader of the colonies and was elected Cullman’s first mayor. Mr. and Mrs. Betz were the parents of the first child born in the colony-Louise, now Ms. M.L. Johnson of Tampa Florida. He was also tax collector, tax assessor and coroner at various times.

The Strahl family resided in the home where the Mackentepe Hardware business now stands. They soon moved on to Montgomery, Alabama.

Mr. and Mrs. Reed settled on the old Mahler farm. A pledge was made by John G. Cullmann to his immigrants, that the first male child born would receive a piece of property. This honor went to Christ., the son born to Mr. and Mrs. Reed and the property he received was later the home site of Bob Lee in West Cullman. They later moved to Birmingham.

Mr. and Mrs. Herman Alberding lived on the property which has been known as the Fred Boub home on Third Avenue West. Mr. Alberding was Cullman’s first tanner. Mrs. A;berding passed away and is buried here.

Renie Von Lostein became so dissatisfied that he returned to Cincinnati and the records show that he walked. Later on, however, Renie made Cullman his home and was married to Miss Gerves, a daughter of Joe Gerves who was the first machinist being sent here from Cincinnati to install the machinery in the Adam Dreher furniture factory, known then as Southern Novelty Works.

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com