|The road through Old House Woods near Mathews, Virginia|
First of all the name, Old House Woods may seem a bit strange, however for years in the middle of these woods off of Haven Beach Road, there was an old dilapidated house that stood for over a century and was subject of many ghostly encounters. As early as 1798 there have been eye witness accounts of strange happenings in and near this stretch of woods. Travelers on horseback have claimed that their horses were spooked and very fearful as they passed through these woods. Many say that some who entered the house seeking treasure or otherwise, were never seen again. Folks living near the woods would report that their children would return from playing there all day telling tales of seeing many strange things such as ghostly Revolutionary War soldiers, skeleton pirates wielding swords and strange glowing balls of light. Some of the tales prompted local residents to forbid their children from entering those woods, especially at night. The old house burned to the foundation long ago, but the eerie stories continue to this day.
A Favorite Hiding Place for Treasure
The first treasure that was lost according to legend, was that of pirates who were attracted by the allure of the marshy expanse of woodland off of Whites Creek, decided that it would be an excellent place to bury some of their treasure. So they tied up along the banks of the creek and buried their booty there in the woods. It is said that unfortunately for the pirates, they perished at sea in a terrible storm and was never able to retrieve their treasure. However, they return on occasion searching for their lost loot as you will see.
In 1651 after the Battle of Worcester in England, Charles II fled Europe and headed for Jamestown in the new found territories in America to hide. After a fierce storm, his treasure ship mistakenly ended up in the Whites Creek. Deciding to hide Charles' treasures there for safe keeping in that remote stretch of forest, they began unloading the chests from the ship when suddenly they were ambushed and robbed. The perpetrators buried both the chests and the bodies of some of the crew in the woods. However, they were captured and put to death. It is said that the treasure chests of Charles II are still buried somewhere in the woods to this day, guarded by the phantom crew that was buried with it. Many claim that sometimes at night the lanterns and sounds of the phantom robbers who returned for their plunder can be seen and heard in the night digging away in the darkness.
In 1781 during the Revolutionary War when General Cornwallis was fleeing the Patriot advance, it is said that they deposited a large stash of gold and silver coins and other plunder taken from civilians in the Old House Woods. They were never allowed to return to the area after they surrendered and it is believed that the British plunder is still hidden there today. Hence, the sightings of Revolutionary soldiers marching through the Old House Woods.
Long ago during the time when steam ships were taking over in the late 19th century, a fisherman reported that he was fishing just off of the entrance of Whites Creek when a full masted sailing ship appeared coming in from the Chesapeake Bay. Making no sound at all, it moved into the creek. The mysterious ship passed by him and sailed right up onto the beach... and across the shore road into the Old House Woods and it appeared to be floating above the ground!
There have also been reports of a phantom Spanish galleon in full sail floating partially above the trees tops as if they were water. Apparently, the phantom vessel rises out of the White River and sails into the trees. The ship would stop and ghostly pirates would pour over the side of the ship and down onto the ground. The phantom pirates have been seen roaming around as if searching for something and some have been spotted digging in certain spots in the Old House Woods. Many believe these are the pirates who died at sea returning to claim their hidden treasure.
Other Ghostly Entities
A ghostly spirit has been seen rising from the waters and wandering along the beach road. A woman in white known as the "storm woman" who wails when a storm draws near, warning those of impending danger. Another spectral inhabitant of the Old House Woods is the headless dogs. There have been many reports by visitors of the haunted forest that hear the sound of barking hounds. As the sounds grew near, to the horror of those witnessing it, headless black hounds would appear from the woods and begin to chase them out of the forest. Only to eventually disappear into the darkness.
Hunting for Ghosts or Treasures
Many of those who have attempted to find the treasures of Old House Woods have disappeared. Once a man entered the woods searching for the lost treasure and later his boat was found floating in the bay with relics in it from the past. However, the owner was never found. As previously mentioned, many who have entered the old house in the woods when it was still standing have never been seen again.
Today the stretch of forest known as Old House Woods is privately owned and they do not appreciate trespassers. So if you are looking for lost treasure or just want a glimpse of a spectral ship, phantom pirate, or a headless dog, you will have to stick to the public areas of Old House Woods or the road that passes through it. If you do enter these woods, you may never leave!