Karel Lea and Greg Biggs, Founders of Clarksville Civil War Roundtable, Recipients of 2012 Heritage Lifetime Achievement Award


Karel Lea and Greg Biggs have been major participants in almost all of the American Civil War projects initiated in Montgomery County during the last decade. They founded the Clarksville Civil War Roundtable, which Greg currently serves as president, and Greg chairs the Inventory and Asset Development subcommittee of the Clarksville/Montgomery County Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. He has served as president of the Montgomery County Civil War Preservation Society and the Friends of the Fort Donelson Campaign. He was also the lead historian for the Fort Defiance Interpretive Center.

The Biggs’ influence in our understanding of the Civil War extends across the United States. Greg, sometimes co-authoring with Karel Lea, has written more than a dozen articles published in Blue and Gray Magazine (for which he has served as an associate editor), Civil War Regiments, Civil War News, and North South Traders Civil War.

They are sought-after speakers and have given more than 100 talks on 30 different topics to organizations in nearly half of the states in the U.S. In addition, Greg has conducted numerous tours, dealing mostly with the Western Theatre of the War, tracing the Fort Donelson Campaign, the Atlanta Campaign, and the Tullahoma Campaign.

One of Greg’s specialties is flags used by both sides. He has served as a flag consultant for museums in Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio, Alabama, North Carolina, and Texas. He is the text editor for the Flags of the Confederacy website, writes a regular column on flags for Civil War News, and is currently writing a book, Volunteer Banners: Tennessee’s Civil War Flags, for the Tennessee State Museum/University of Tennessee Press.

Karel Lea specializes in the effect of the war on civilians and has given a number of programs on the lives of women during the war.
As we approach the third year of the Civil War’s 150th anniversary, both Karel Lea and Greg Biggs are serving the county as knowledgeable resources about its heritage during this tumultuous period of our history.


Eleanor Williams, Montgomery County Historian, Receives 2011 Heritage Lifetime Achievement Award


The Arts and Heritage Development Council is pleased to award its 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award in Heritage to Montgomery County Historian Eleanor Williams.

Having served in this position since 1993, Ms. Williams has been active in increasing knowledge about our local history through authoring books, serving on historical boards and commissions, and presenting programs and dramatizations about Montgomery County’s heritage.

She is the author of four books on local history: Nineteenth Century Heritage (co-authored with Ursula Beach), Homes and Happenings, Cabins to Castles, and Worship along the Warioto. Other publications include A Child’s History of Montgomery County and Henrietta Heritage as well as work in the latest publication of Historic Clarksville: 1784-2004.

Eleanor currently serves on the Customs House Museum Board, Montgomery County Historical Society Board, Public Records Commission, Clarksville-Montgomery County Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Historic Preservation Committee, Service and Sacrifice Committee which honors local veterans, and Nannie Haskins Diary Committee.

In addition she has served on Friends of the Library Board, Montgomery County’s Tennessee Bicentennial Commission (which worked to restore the L & N train station) Montgomery County Millennium Commission, committee for the restoration of the WWI doughboy on Legion Street, and as president and publication editor for the Montgomery County Historical Society. Ms. Williams is a member of 13 patriotic and genealogical societies and a active member of First Baptist Church of Clarksville, having been married there 54 years ago this December.

She has gathered historic photos for various county offices, composed information for driving and walking tours of Clarksville, written numerous articles, spoken to innumerable community groups, and provided information to countless individual citizens. She is married to James Williams and they have two daughters, Gayle Moore and Donna Page; three grandsons and five great-grandchildren.


Randy Rubel, 2010 heritage award winner, works tirelessly to preserve Montgomery County history


The 2010 Arts and Heritage Development Council Lifetime Achievement in Heritage award went to Randy Rubel. In their nomination of him for this award, Clarksville Civil War Roundtable noted, “Randy is a tireless worker towards heritage preservation and deserves to be recognized for his services to his community.”

They further pointed out, “Randy’s passion for the Civil War, and Clarksville’s role in this pivotal time of our nation’s history, is unparalleled. Randy is a walking, talking, encyclopedia of Clarksville lore and goes out of his way to share his knowledge with others. Randy is eager to help any who ask — tourists, genealogists, Civil War researchers, and even the local tourism agencies — in his personal quest to see that our heritage is not forgotten.

“Randy has taken it upon himself to see that the grave sites of Civil War and other veterans are cared for and honored. No one has asked him to do this. No one pays him to do this. He does it because it is the right thing to do. He understands the value of these long gone veterans to the very fabric of our community and is a one-man maintenance crew when it comes to taking care of these men and women and their final resting places. Many would forget.”

In addition Randy has honored local veterans through his work on Faces of Valor and More Faces of Valor.

The Roundtable nomination concluded, “Randy has worked tirelessly to save precious sites related to our local heritage, ranging from Fort Defiance to Camp Boone. He knows this city intimately and is a strong proponent of sharing and preserving our heritage. We cannot think of anyone who deserves this more.”


JoAnn and Glenn Weakley earned the 2009 AHDC Heritage Award for establishing and maintaining Historic Collinsville


In 1974, JoAnn and Glenn Weakley began work on their dream of rebuilding the settlement of Collinsville. They opened Historic Collinsville to the public in 1997.

This living history museum features authentically restored log houses and outbuildings dating from 1830 to 1870. The settlement takes visitors from the earliest “first home” to the expansive big house on the hill with separate kitchen, living and sleeping areas. Each home and outbuilding has been painstakingly restored to its original condition and furnished authentically.

The Weakleys maintain these building and have recruited  a group of dedicated volunteers to keep Historic Collinsville open to the public for most of the year. They have also expanded the living history museum to include the Irby-Bumpus Wildlife and Native American Center.

The Weakleys also maintain an active role in the community.  JoAnn Weakley was a member of the founding Board of Trustees for the Clarksville Museum and later served as Chair of the Board. Glenn has successfully operated both the 100+ year-old family farm as well as additional acreage he has acquired since moving from Overton County to Montgomery County in 1952.


Community leader Riley Darnell Honored in 2008 for his lifetime contributions to preserving the city’s historical heritage


Secretary of State Riley C. Darnell has been a central catalyst in preserving the heritage of Clarksville and Montgomery County.

As Tennessee State Senate majority leader in the 1980s, Darnell lent his considerable support to obtain funds for adaptive reuse of historic Harned Hall as a high-tech classroom and office building. Also, Darnell was a robust supporter in launching the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center. When the museum’s success warranted its expansion, Darnell was instrumental in obtaining funding.

Secretary Darnell most recently was a major contributor to our community’s efforts to obtain a $2.2 million TDOT Grant to finance the establishment of the Fort Defiance Historical Park.


Dr. Howard Winn recognized in 2007 for his work in documenting and communicating the area’s local history


Thomas Howard Winn, APSU professor emeritus of history, has been actively involved in preserving the heritage of Clarksville and Montgomery County most of his life.

For more than 30 years, Winn has served on or headed the following heritage related efforts. Winn worked with the initial group to found the Clarksville-Montgomery County Historical Museum, later renamed Customs House Museum. He served as chairman of the Museum Planning Committee, 1981-82, and as chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Clarksville Montgomery County Historical Museum, 1983-1987. The museum opened in 1984.

Winn has served as president of the Montgomery County Historical Society from 1983-1986 and 2001-2002, was a member of the Riverwalk Commission 1987-90, chairman of the Main Street Clarksville Board of Directors (1983), a member of the Regional Historical Zoning Commission (1992-8), for which he also served as chairman from 1994-97.

Winn served on the Clarksville Bicentennial Planning Committee from 1983-84, and was vice-chair of the Homecoming 1986 Steering Committee. He was co-chairman of the “Save Harned Hall Committee” that saved APSU’s oldest building from demolition. It resulted in the adapted reuse as a high-tech classroom and office building, while saving the building’s original facade.

Professor Winn was awarded the Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Faculty Award for Public Service in 1993. He is principal author and editor of the exhibits at the Cumberland River Center. Titled “As the River Flows: A History of the Cumberland River,” this exhibit opened in 1999. Winn was appointed to head the Fort Defiance Park Project Commission, which secured a $2.2 million grant to establish a historical park in North Clarksville.

Winn has published numerous articles on the history of our area appearing in the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, Southern Quarterly, Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Encyclopedia of the War of 1812, Tennessee Conservationist, and American National Biography.

Winn has co-authored A History of Austin Peay State University, 1806-2001, researched and wrote chapters in Historic Clarksville: The Bicentennial Story, and coauthored Clarksville Tennessee in the Civil War: A Chronology.