Until John Smith's exploratory voyages of Chesapeake Bay in 1608 and 1609 opened the region to European settlement, the land belonged to the Piscataways, Choptanks, and other Algonquian peoples, as it had for thousands of years. Choice land on the eastern and western shores of the bay was snapped up by colonists and turned into large English farms. Providence, a Puritan settlement near the northern end of Chesapeake Bay, would be renamed Annapolis and replace St. Marys as Maryland's capital in 1694.

Map by National Geographic Society