Twelve miles off Maryland's Eastern Shore, three small islands - collectively known as Smith Island - pepper the Chesapeake Bay. Home to the tiny villages of Ewell, Rhodes Point and Tylerton, the islands are eight miles long and four miles wide with fewer than 300 full-time residents. Long visited by Native Americans, the tiny islands of the Chesapeake were mapped and named by Captain John Smith in June of 1608.
The original settlers were Corwallian via the mainland of Virginia and arrived in the last third of the 17th century. The first settlers attempted to farm but marshy conditions and tidal erosion made agriculture difficult. The island's economy shifted rapidly at the end of the 19th century to harvesting the bountiful seafood of the Bay and continues to this day, virtually occupying all able-bodied persons on the island. This lifestyle has preserved a way of life that's changed little in the last three centuries. Locals have an accent - a slight English lilt warmed by a Southern drawl....often called Tidewater English.