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Third Tobacco Talk at Austin Peay examines the forgotten war in the Black Patch

Dr. Rick Gregory

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn.-- The Tobacco Talk series hosted by the Clarksville Arts and Heritage Council and the Austin Peay College of Arts and Letters takes an in-depth look, during their third program, at one of the darkest periods in Montgomery County’s history.  

Professional storyteller, Dr. Rick Gregory, will talk about the decade of tobacco wars in Montgomery and surrounding counties. Beginning at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28, in the Trahern Building on the APSU campus, this event is free and open to the public. 

Tobacco farmers in the Black Patch region of middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky rose in rebellion against the American Tobacco Company in the first decade of the 20th century, setting in motion one of the most violent eras in U.S. history from the Civil War until the Civil Rights movement. 

Gregory will tell the largely overlooked story of this dangerous struggle for economic survival fought between the Dark Tobacco District Planters' Protective Association and James Buchanan Duke’s American Tobacco Company, with area tobacco farmers caught in the middle. 

Gregory earned master’s and doctoral degrees in history from Vanderbilt University. His doctoral dissertation was entitled “Desperate Farmers: The Dark Tobacco Planters Protective Association, 1905-1915.” He is currently updating and expanding his research for a book about the Planters’ Protective Association and the Tobacco Night Riders that came out of it. 

In 1996 he co-authored the bicentennial history of Robertson County. In 2020 he co-authored the bicentennial history of Springfield, the county seat of Robertson County. His book, “The Bell Witch Legend: In Myth and Memory,” will be published by the University of Tennessee Press in September. 

Gregory lives in Adams on a farm bordering the Red River. He is a husband, father, grandfather, hiker, and river kayaker. 

Parking for this Tobacco Talk is available in the staff lot fronting Eighth Street.  

The series is sponsored in part by the Tennessee Arts Commission and by federal award number SLFRP5534 awarded to the State of Tennessee by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. 

For more information on this event or future Tobacco Talks, contact Austin Peay College of Arts and Letters Director of Communication Kara Zahn at zahnk@apsu.edu or 931-221-6446, or Dr. Ellen Kanervo, Arts and Heritage executive director, at Kanervoe@apsu.edu.  

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