Col. John G. Cullmann descendant returns to Cullman

Lou Johnson gives Peoples Drug Co. items to Cullman County Museum

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Lou Johnson with the bust of his ancestor, Col. John G. Cullmann (Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Making his way south from his home in North Carolina, Lou Johnson, a descendant of Cullman’s founder Col. John G. Cullmann, visited the Cullman County Museum Friday ahead of the lighting of the Christmas pyramid. Johnson came bearing Peoples Drug Co. memorabilia for Museum Director Drew Green. The items were handed down from Johnson’s uncle, Stanley Johnson, who spent many years as a leader in the Cullman community. 

Peoples Drug Co. was a Cullman staple for decades and was located on the northeast corner of First Avenue Southeast and Fourth Street Southeast where Smith & Smith LLP is currently housed. Owners of the pharmacy over the years included Dr. B.M. Kinney, Dr. Hartung, Dr. O.W. Kinney and Dr. Albert Hoeppner. In 1916, Drs. Hartung and Kinney, with Dr. W. J. Cottingham, built the current building. 

Johnson presented Green with a wooden drawer that held the pharmacy labels for various medications and prescriptions, many of which were still in the drawers. A weight scale from Peoples Drug Co. was also given to the museum. 

Cullman County Museum Director Drew Green accepts historical items from Peoples Drug Co. from Lou Johnson, descendant of Col. John G. Cullmann. (Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune)

In keeping with his family’s long tradition of service to the community, Johnson is a retired law enforcement officer who lives just north of Charlotte, North Carolina. He fondly recalls visiting his beloved Uncle Stanley in Cullman in his youth and had already introduced his wife to the Busy Bee Café  on Friday before their visit to the museum. 

As Johnson toured the Cullman County Museum, he reflected on various items he remembered from childhood visits to relatives’ homes like the mantle clock and rocking chair in the Colonel’s replicated bedroom, which holds many of the founder’s authentic household furnishings. 

“My sister has the matching chair to this rocking chair,” Johnson said. “I have the Colonel’s rocking chair, which is rumored to have been seen rocking on its own over the years. Some might say it’s haunted. My wife said that if she ever witnesses it rocking in our house with no one in it, the rocker will be out of there,” he laughed. 

Johnson’s Uncle Stanley was the grandson of Julia Cullman Hartung, one of the Colonel’s nieces. Stanley Johnson was an integral part of the fabric of Cullman, playing a pivotal role in the origins of the Cullman County Historical Society and Friends of Frankweiler. He was principal of Cullman Middle School many years ago. 

Yearning for political democracy while under the authoritarian rule of Otto Von Bismarck in Prussia, John G. Cullmann entered the United States and founded the town of Cullman in 1873. Cullmann sought to offer the freedom associated with democracy to other German families and recruited many to join him in Alabama. More than 20 years after the town’s establishment, Cullmann died of pneumonia on Dec. 3, 1895. 

The Cullman County Museum is located at 211 Second Ave. NE and is open to visitors Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 

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