NOTE: We here at Paranormal Georgia Investigations are saddened by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey and are urging our followers in the path of Hurricane Irma to evacuate, if necessary, and to most definitely stay safe. If you haven’t already, you can help those survivors of these storms by donating as little as $10 to The Red Cross’s Hurricane/Tropical Storm Relief Fund. You can either click here to donate or call 1-800-REDCROSS. You can also call the previous number to find open shelters in your area if you are affected. Please, everyone, stay safe.
I spent many summers during my childhood buried in the sands of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. My parents would stuff the back of our sky-blue Honda Civic full of luggage, beach chairs, umbrellas, and food, and we would drive the eight hours south for a week of sun, sand, and family. My mother’s family rented the same cottage every year–The Shell–and all 15 of us would take up every bed and cot, stuffing our faces with mayonnaise sandwiches and sugar cookies, the adults doing everything possible to keep us cousins well-fed and protected from sunburn. Those weeks are some of my fondest memories.
A year after I married, and 14 years after my mother’s family had a falling out and we stopped going to North Myrtle Beach, my husband, parents, and I rented The Shell and invited a few friends come with us and help create some new beach memories. We had an amazing time, except for the last day when we found ourselves stuck inside the cottage as the outer bands of Hurricane Edouard made the waves tall and rough and pushed the tide nearly to the lower steps of the cottage. That day, we spent time exploring the shops up and down the coast and eventually ended up at Pawley’s Island, a favorite hang-out of ours. It was there I discovered The Gray Man while visiting a local art gallery. They had several artists’ renditions of the ghost along with brochures telling his story.
The Gray Man of Pawley’s Island, it is said, is a benevolent ghost and one only experienced during times of grave danger to the coast of South Carolina. Legend says that if a dangerous hurricane is bearing down on Pawley’s Island, that The Gray Man will appear, as a harbinger to warn residents and vacationers to flee the island. First sighted in 1822, three years before Pawley’s Island was incorporated, many think the ghost could be Percival Pawley, the first European settler to develop plantations in the area as early as 1711. Others think The Gray Man could be the spirit of Plowden Charles Jeannerette Weston, the original owner of the house on Pawleys Island now known as the Pelican Inn. After a lifetime of service to his beloved state and home, some feel that Plowden still protects it as The Gray Man. And even more feel that The Gray Man could be the spirit of Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.
Regardless of who The Gray Man is, the legend says that if you heed his warnings and leave the island before a major storm, that your property will remain unscathed. Whether that’s true or not, the last report sightings of The Gray Man were just before Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Pawley’s Island residents Jim and Clara Moore claimed to have seen a man on the beach who disappeared when they waved to him. They immediately realized who the man was and left the island before Hurricane Hugo struck. Their home was spared any major damage while the homes of their neighbors suffered heavy destruction.
The Gray Man has been described as a man wearing gray clothing, wearing a long coat, dressed like a pirate, and sometimes having no legs. With the 2017 hurricane season already producing two deadly storms, anyone living in the paths of these horrific tempests would do well to heed the advice of The Gray Man and escape at all costs, whether he shows himself to you or not.