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New book by Christopher Slavens is a deep dive into what historian C. A. Weslager called "the most important single event in Indian history on the Delmarva Peninsula."


Laurel, Del., September 6—Christopher Slavens announced the publication of 1742: The True Story of the Nanticoke Indians' Plot to Unite the Tribes, Massacre the English, and Take Back the Eastern Shore, a nonfiction account of the Nanticoke Indians and other Delmarva tribes from their first contact with English colonists through decades of bloody conflict and bitter concessions. A simmering resistance boiled over in 1742 when Nanticoke leaders invited the Choptank, Assateague, Pocomoke, and Askecksy tribes to a secret council in the vicinity of Trap Pond.

Although the plot was unsuccessful, Slavens says it had the potential to split and weaken the English colonies on the eve of King George's War and a decade before the better-known French and Indian War, changing the destiny of North America. He began researching the near-uprising in 2013, excited to discover that it had occurred near his home at Whaley's Crossroads, several miles east of Laurel.

"The plot of 1742 became intensely personal for me," said Slavens. "I was obsessed with learning everything I could about the neighborhood during the 17th and 18th centuries." He used a variety of sources, including eyewitness accounts, official correspondence, and colonial land records, to paint a detailed picture of the Nanticokes and their territory, particularly the Laurel area, which was home to one of the two Nanticoke reservations. The other was located at Chicone Creek, near Vienna, Md.

Despite the prominent involvement of the Nanticoke tribe, the book also traces the history of other local tribes, including the Askecksy or Indian River Indians, who lived in a 1,000-acre settlement on the southeast side of the town of Millsboro.

Previously, Slavens authored The Roofed Graves of Delmarva (2020) and Peninsula Roots (2022), and has published reprints of several historical works. He has served on the board of directors of the Laurel Historical Society since 2019, and is also a member of the Archaeological Society of Delaware and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Slavens will sell and sign copies of the book at the Nanticoke River Jamboree at historic Handsell on Saturday, October 14th. Later that day he will speak about the Nanticoke Indians of Broad Creek at a Laurel Historical Society dinner.

Paperback copies of 1742 are available via

Good news, everyone! Publishers Weekly reports that even after a record-breaking year in 2020, print book sales continued to climb in 2021.

"Led by the fiction categories, unit sales of print books rose 8.9% in 2021 over 2020 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. Units sold were 825.7 million last year, up from 757.9 million in 2020. BookScan captures approximately 85% of all print sales."

Read the full article.

- Chris

2021 turned out to be a rather unproductive year for this little book publishing operation. After I released three historical reprints last winter, my "real" job kept me busy enough through the spring and summer that I didn't work on any of my works in progress. Things slowed down a bit in the fall, and I resumed working on one project in particular. I hope to complete and publish it in 2022, but it's a big project, so we'll see. I'll say no more about it at this time, except that it will be about an exciting and little-known episode of local history.

I had my first experience with book returns this year. No, not the after-hours slot in the door of the library. The vast majority of books published in the United States are purchased by booksellers with the understanding that they can be returned for a full refund if they don't sell. Evidently a bookseller which had stocked a couple of dozen hardcover copies of Military Interference With the Election in Delaware decided they weren't going to sell -- or, more likely, an algorithm made the call -- and returned them. Unfortunately, I discovered after the fact that I had not required returns of this particular book to actually, literally be returned to me, so the bookseller destroyed the books, and I received an unexpected bill for several hundred dollars. This was a valuable learning experience for me, and I've updated the settings with the distributor so that future returns will, indeed, be returned to me.

A happier development in 2021 was the acquisition of twelve copies of Military Interference and three copies of The Roofed Graves of Delmarva by a number of public libraries in Delaware. I also provided copies of each book to the Delaware Public Archives. I was especially happy to see libraries putting Military Interference on the shelf, since it's such an important reference work. Most of the copies can be checked out, but some are held in noncirculating collections.

Looking forward to 2022, I'm hoping it will be The Year of the Book, at least for Bald Cypress Books. I expect to publish a couple more historical reprints, as well as a collection of articles I'd previously published on my old Peninsula Roots blog. When I look at my list of works in progress, it is conceivable that I could complete and publish two or three original books. If so, it will be a good -- but busy -- year.

To those who have purchased a book from Bald Cypress Books in 2021, thank you for your support. As we prepare to turn the page, I wish you all a peaceful and prosperous new year.

- Chris Slavens

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