The gray man of Pawleys Island in South Carolina has walked the coastline for nearly 200 years. And much like the Gray man of Hatteras, his presence spells impending danger for the small island and the people who dwell there. It seems that while he is responsible for saving lives, he was unable to save his own...
There are several stories about the origin of the Gray Man, this is just one.
In 1822 a young woman was staying on the island with her family when she received word her fiancée was going to join her on the island after going to see his family. Delighted with the news, she had the servants prepare all his favorite dishes and decorate the house in anticipation for his arrival. When the time came for him to arrive, no one showed. For hours she waited for her love, only to be visited by the fiancées servant with tragic news.
As they were traveling down the road, her fiancée was in great spirits and challenged his servant to a race on their horses. They raced down the strand and when he saw a shortcut through a marsh, he decided to take it. Fate stepped in and caused his horse to stumbled, throwing it's rider off. When he tried to stand, he found himself sinking in quicksand. Despite his best efforts, he nor his companion were able to free him and the girls husband-to-be sank beneath the sand.
The news nearly drove the girl mad. She spent hours walking along the Pawleys Island strand. One afternoon she was out walking when she saw a man looking out over the water. As she got closer she felt her stomach tighten. She couldn't believe her eyes. When she got mere feet from the man, she was sure it was her love. Suddenly, a wave burst from the sea, enveloping him. When it had gone, so had he.
She told her family of what she had seen. They, of course, thought that losing her fiancée was starting to take her mind. That night, she had a horrific dream of being in a small boat in the ocean tossed by the waves. wreckage all around her. All the while, her lover stood on a dune, trying to wave her to him. When she awoke she was terrified. So her father took her and the rest of the family to Charleston to see a doctor.
That was fortunate. Within hours of their leaving, a hurricane struck the coast. When it was over, almost all the inhabitants of the North Inlet had died. Realizing that her love had returned to save her from a horrible fate, the girl returned to her normal self.
People still claim they see the Gray Man. In 1954 a grandmother on vacation with her family saw a man dressed completely in gray fade to a blur before fading away. The next day tornadoes ripped through the area. One person tried to chase the Gray Man only to have him disappear in front of their eyes.
So in you are on Pawleys Island in late September or October, keep an eye turned to the beach. And if you do see the Gray Man, heed his warning. and take shelter.