Hurricane Florence, now a category 4 hurricane, is bearing down on the Carolinas. Mandatory evacuations are taking place up and down Carolina coastline. Residents fear for their homes, businesses, and towns, and what the high winds and ravaging flood waters might do to them. One thing they do not fear, however, is a ghost.
South Carolinians in particular actually hope to see the ghost known as The Gray Man. According to legend, the drab specter keeps the homes of those who spot him safe during dangerous storms.
As the story goes, The Gray Man is the spirit of a young man who lived during the early 19th Century. He was traveling from Charleston to see his fiancée on Pawleys Island in South Carolina in 1822 when he and his horse unexpectedly became caught in quicksand. Unable to escape, the man slowly sank in and drowned.
After learning of her fiancée’s tragic fate, the woman to whom the man was set to marry began to wander the beach alone, grieving. One night while wandering the beach the woman came upon a man dressed in gray. He was standing on the shore, staring out at the ocean. When he turned to her she was startled to recognize the man. It was the spirit of her fiancée. He informed her that the island she and her family was on was not safe and that they needed to leave. The next morning her entire family left for the mainland. Soon after a massive storm hit. When it was finally safe to return, the family came back to the island and were stunned at the devastation. Nearly everything was destroyed. Except for their home.
Since then The Gray Man has appeared before every major hurricane to hit South Carolina, each time saving the homes of the people he encounters. He is described as wearing gray clothing, including a long coat. Some even say he looks like a pirate. The legend is so well-known that there was even an episode of Unsolved Mysteries about the ghost.
Though the identity of The Gray Man isn’t known for sure, there are several theories. Some believe he is Percival Pawley, the man for whom the island is named. Others suspect he is Plowden Charles Jeannerette Weston (side note: that’s the most South Carolina name ever), an early resident who owned the home that currently operates as the famous Pelican Inn. Some even claim the man is Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the Pirate.
Whoever The Gray Man really is, hopefully, everyone on Pawleys Island sees him before Hurricane Florence hits.