Mary Ada Marshall

Mary Ada Marshall taken by Edwin Remsburg.jpg

Mary Ada Marshall, on the water front of Tylerton, Smith Island, MD, holding a Smith Island Cake with a tiny Maryland flag on top.

Credit: ©Edwin Remsberg /

Mary Ada Marshall, a local resident of Tylerton, Smith Island, Maryland, has been making Smith Island Cake for decades. In her interview below, Marshall recalls various facets about Smith Island Cakes.

“One of the things a woman would want to achieve before she got married was to be able to make a layer cake. It sorta became a challenge as to how many layers and how thin you could get them and who could bake the most layers on a cake.”

Marshall notes that that she “never did pay much attention to” the growing number of cake layers and that the “layers were baked individually – it just became something we learned to do pretty much on our own.”

"Most of the women on the island can [make the cake], there are some that can’t. Some never master it, some just don’t have the patience or the time or the want to. I take pride in what I do.”

"The Smith Island cake becoming the state dessert was absolutely overwhelming. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that something we baked here on the island would become famous. I guess it’s just the uniqueness of them.”

“It’s been a delight...we didn’t really think we had something special but evidently we did.”

Interviewed by Cliff Murphy & Elaine Eff, Mary Ada Marshall & Kristin Manzo provide a brief oral history of the Smith Island Cake. April 16, 2009, Tylerton, Smith Island, MD. Maryland Traditions records, Maryland Traditions Archives, Collection 120, Special Collections, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Baltimore, MD)

Smith Island Cake
Mary Ada Marshall