Fuller Earle Callaway, a hardworking, hard-driving man, built a fortune on wit, sweat, integrity, and intelligence. He was one of 12 children born in LaGrange, GA, to Abner Reeves Callaway, a Baptist preacher. His mother, Sara Howard Callaway, was a dedicated wife and parent who died when Fuller was 8, and from that time Fuller was mostly on his own in his hometown. He farmed some, sold spools of thread after school, and eventually lived with an older brother.
At age 18, Fuller opened a store with $500 and thus began his triumphant career in retailing. In 1896, LaGrange businessmen encouraged the young man to take over an ailing cotton mill. From there, Fuller’s ebullient personality, energy, and capacity for making wise decisions led to a robust career. This included an ever-expanding complex of cotton mills and gins, as well as his involvement in banks, real estate, and insurance. By the 1910s, Fuller’s products were known internationally, and the schoolboy who once sold spools of thread had become a textile baron.
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