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Delmarva author explores Nanticoke Indian history in '1742'

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

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