By his written account, the English Captain John Smith, a leader of the Jamestown settlement, was the first European to sail the Potomac, reaching Little Falls just north of Georgetown. His goal was to chart the Chesapeake Bay — and to record habitable lands, natural resources, and native settlements. While his entourage was greeted with a volley of arrows downriver, in this part of Maryland he was shown hospitality by the local tribes — the Tauxenants, Mayaone (Piscataway) and Nacotchtank. English colonists traded with Indians here throughout the 1600s. However, violent conflicts occurred as the colonists increasingly encroached upon Indian lands.
"Regaine therefore your old spirits, for return I will not, if God please, till I have... found Patawmek (the Potomac River), or the head of this water you conceit to be endlesse."
-Captain John Smith
Native Politics Along the Potomac River
As he sailed up the Potomac, Captain Smith recorded the sites of native villages, making note of the local power structure and identifying the location of "Kings howses." In this area, the locals were beyond the authority of Powhatan, leader of the powerful chiefdom that dominated Jamestown and much of tidewater Virginia. The most powerful individual here was the chief or Tayac
that lived along Piscataway Creek, just south of this site. This Tayac ruled the "metropolis of Pescatoa (Piscataway)" as well as other allied groups including the Nacotchtanks, Pamunkeys, Nanjemoys, Potapacos, Yaocomacos, and, perhaps the Tauxenents on the Virginia shore.