In the summer of 1608 Captain John Smith began his exploration of the Chesapeake Bay. From Cape Charles he traveled up the bay to the Potomac River, continued as far as present-day Washington D. C., and then back down to Jamestown, Virginia. At one point he was very badly hurt by a stingray and had to return to Jamestown to be treated. It was during these two voyages, while looking for fresh water, that he came across a group of islands in the middle of the bay. He named them the “Russell Isles,” for a Doctor Russell who was then on board ship with him. This group of islands is known today as Smith, Tangier, and Watts Islands.
Tangier Island is about 6 miles below the Maryland-Virginia State line. In Virginia state records, all the islands below the state line were once known as the “Tangier Islands.”
For more information: Tangier Island Guide