Just 15 miles past Cambridge, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is a town so small it has already disappeared from most maps. Soon it could disappear altogether.
Smithville, an African American settlement that dates to the 19th century, had 100 residents a few decades ago. Today, four remain. Its historic Gothic Revival church, New Revived United Methodist Church, stands uncomfortably close to a marsh inching ever nearer to its wooden frame. Only a cluster of wetland plants separates the marsh from Smithville’s historic cemetery next to the church, where the town’s founding fathers and mothers — Wheatley, Wilson, Cornish — have been lovingly laid to rest.