Before our beautiful USA was a country the lower Eastern Shore of Virginia was inhabited by a community of people called the Nussawattocks and these folks were led by a man named Debdeavon (there are a least three ways to spell this great man's name) Actually it is very possible that this was not his name because the people native to the lower Eastern Shore had a belief that it was bad medicine to speak your name to anyone other than to those that were known to you and they often used aliases. Anyway, as the story goes, there was this young 13 year old boy named Thomas Savage that was traded by John Smith to the Powhatan indians in exchange for one of their young men. It sounds a little harsh, but it apparently was a pretty common practice back in the exploring and conquering days and it was kind of like a cultural exchange program, or at least that is how I like to think of it. So, Thomas was living with the Powhatans and he could speak both the native language and English. Thomas started going on trading trips on behalf of Powhatan the leader of the Powhatans and one of these trips brought him to the Eastern Shore of Virginia where he met Debdeavon. As the story goes things were pretty good for the native people here on the lower Delmarva, particularly down on its southernmost tip, it was considerably better than that of their counterparts across the Chesapeake in Jamestown. Farming was better here and there was more than enough game and fish not to mention clams and oysters. In fact, when the English arrived on the Eastern Shore they found "mountains" of clam and oyster shells. Debdeavon had so much food that he would trade with the Jamestown settlers for metal tools and other English goods. Thomas Savage facilitated several exchanges with Debdeavon the Emperor of the Eastern Shore the King of the Accomacs and the Nussawattocks Native American tribes.
Now you can get a picture of the young Englishman meeting Dedeavon who had a reputation for being a big guy, with a big heart, a big smile and who purportedly had a big giant laugh, so big in fact that the english started referring to Debdeavon as The Laughing King. No one knows what made him so happy but plenty of good food, good friends, beautiful land and who knows maybe some plant based medicines and you get a picture of big friendly guy that was really good to Thomas and all his English friends.
In fact In 1621 relationships across the bay were not so good. Powhatan had died and his successor Opechancanough was plotting an attack on Jamestown. He sent word to Debdeavon that he wanted him to send certain poisonous plants that grew here on the Eastern Shore to use against the English settlement. (see, that plant based medicine theory is not so far fetched) Instead Debdeavon warned Thomas Savage who warned the other colonists of an imminent threat.
Folks on the Eastern Shore loved the Laughing King so much they erected a monument to him that you can see on the green of the Northampton County Court Seat that reads:
"Laughing King of Accomacke
Emperor of the Easterne Shoare
King of the Great Nussawattocks"
A gallant warrior and a loyal
friend to the early settlers
of the Eastern Shore.
His timely warning to the colonists
of an intended uprising in 1621,
saved them from annihilation
in the massacre of 1622.
We honor the Laughing King today by naming our couples retreat in his honor on land he once lived, loved, and obviously laughed big, ate well, and was a good friend to all that he met.
The real inventors of Stand up Paddle Boarding