The Gray Man of Pawleys Island

As Hurricane Florence barreled towards landfall in the south strange murmurings of the Gray Man began to resurface. The Gray Man is an eerie spirit said to appear on the shores of a beach, particularly Pawleys Island, right before a historic storm. If you see the Gray Man, you should heed his warning and evacuate.

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As some people view Mothman as a warning of doom (instead of the harbinger of doom), the Gray Man is seem quite similarly. Although he is haunting and eerie to witness, he acts as a warning to those close to the coast in order to warn and protect them.

While there are a range of origin stories of who the Gray Man was before death, most people seem to settle on a tale of love lost.

This story takes place on Pawleys Island, South Carolina in the early 1800s. A young man is excitedly getting ready to visit his long-distance love. He has not seen her in some time because he has been out at sea. However, the day has finally come for their planned visit. She lives on the other side of Pawleys Island and decides that on this visit he will finally ask her for her hand in marriage. The young woman is equally excited as she busies herself cleaning the house, preparing for his arrival, and wondering if he’ll finally ask the question she’s been dying to say yes to.

He heads out on horse with a friend but the man is getting antsy and wants to get to his beloved faster. He decides to part with his friend to take a shortcut through the marsh while his friend decides to stay on the road.The shortcut proves useful for sometime but as the sun is setting his horse stumbles and he man is thrown violently into the marsh. The water, mud, and marsh all weigh him down and drag his further and further from the surface.

Hours later, the young women grows nervous when her lover doesn’t arrive. The next day, the news of his tragedy travels to her. She is devastated and decides to take a walk alone to help settle herself.

The walk settles her so much she begins to make evening walks a regular part of her evening routine. Weeks pass and she notices a man, dressed all in gray, standing in her usual path. Even from a distance she could tell there was something familiar in the way he stood. As she got closer and closer her breath was taken away - it was her lover’s face. But how was this possible? He had been dead for weeks. Approaching him even faster, dying to ask him how he had survived, he told her to leave the island immediately. It was not safe. He disappeared before she could even utter a word.

More distraught than she had been since that fateful night she rushes home and tell her parents what had transpired. Unwilling to hear reason she is determined to heed her lover’s advice, even if it was from beyond the grave. They decided to leave the next morning for the mainland.

And thank god they did.

When they returned a few days later the island had been devastated. There had been a hurricane. Only one home survived the storm: hers.

Ever since there have been reports of this somber Gray Man warning those on the island to head for the mainland whenever a big storm is on the horizon.

The Gray Man typically appears to 2-3 to people and rarely to groups. He seems to take a special interest in couples. For example, a young, newlywed couple were enjoying their honeymoon on Pawleys Island in 1954. Very early one morning during their honeymoon someone knocked on the door. They sleepily answered and were greeted by a man dressed plainly, although somehow out of place, in gray. He told them in an even tone they needed to leave the island because a deadly storm was coming. One look out the window showed a clear morning was breaking. Before they could question or contest he disappeared before their very eyes. Terrified and confused the couple left that day. Just a few days later, when they should have still been on the Island, Hurricane Hazel swept through the island ruining many homes and even killing several people.

In the wake of Hurricane Florence, several people have reported seeing the Gray Man themselves warning them to get away.

Rian Fontaine told Yahoo News, “It’s a story I heard growing up...I think everyone in the low country has heard the story, especially when hurricanes or tropical storms begin to form around our area. It’s always something you hear people bring up. He’s a friendly entity. … Not that it’s a good thing to see him, but when someone does claim to see him, it gives us locals an idea of what we’re dealing with.”

Whether you not you believe you see him or think your eyes are just playing tricks on you, be sure to heed the Gray Man in hurricane season.

The above image is from Hunter Desportes on Flickr. It is titled 127 Black and White (1964) Pawleys Island, South Carolina, ca. 1964 and liscensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)