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Historian Explores Clarksville’s Tobacco Legacy in Inaugural “Tobacco Talks” Program at APSU

Carolyn Stier Ferrell

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Local historian Carolyn Stier Ferrell will kick off a “Tobacco Talks” program series with a presentation on the history and importance of tobacco on Clarksville’s development at 4 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 13, in the Trahern Building on the campus of Austin Peay State University.

Ferrell will give an in-depth look at the ways in which tobacco growing and selling shaped Clarksville’s downtown silhouette, its wealth, and its culture. Discussing her presentation, she commented, “Hailed as the Dark-fired Tobacco Capital of the World, Clarksville owes its growth and emergence as a vital manufacturing city to the plant that came over the mountains from Virginia and North Carolina.”

She also pointed out that many businessmen from other countries and their families moved to Clarksville to be better positioned to acquire the region’s special dark-fired tobacco that gave the 30-county-area, including Montgomery, its name of the “Black Patch.” She noted these European families gave Clarksville a “cosmopolitan feel.”

A fourth generation Clarksvillian, Ferrell has authored ten books on Clarksville’s history, ranging over such varied topics as Occupied Clarksville during the Civil War to Clarksville’s Historic Dog Hill Neighborhood to In Search of Nannie Tyler, whose parents, when she died in 1885, installed at her grave her likeness in marble, which made national headlines when it was stolen in 1996 and later found in a Boston antique shop.

Those attending the Tobacco Talks will also have a chance to view “The Tobacco Hands/ The Habits of Mutuality,” a mixed media work by artists Cynthia Marsh, APSU professor emerita of art, and Marnie Powers-Torrey, University of Utah adjunct associate professor of art. Installed in the Trahern Lobby, “The Tobacco Hands” is made up of four 3-dimensional printed quilts, each telling the story of a tobacco-growing family living in Montgomery County.

Ferrell is a popular speaker for history and civic organizations and an entertaining tour guide through Greenwood and Riverview cemeteries and around downtown. Her “Tobacco Talk” is sponsored through a partnership between the Clarksville Arts and Heritage Council and APSU’s College of Arts and Letters.

It is supported by grants from the Tennessee Arts Commission and federal award number SLFRP5534 awarded to the State of Tennessee by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

For more information, visit apsu.edu/coal or follow Clarksville Arts and Heritage on Facebook.

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