Friday, August 26, 2011

The Gray Man of Pawley's Island

With Hurricane Irene heading towards the North Carolina coast, I started thinking about the famous Gray Man of Pawley's Island, South Carolina.  Please let me know if you hear of any recent sightings of this legendary apparition!

The Gray Man of Pawley's Island is one of South Carolina's most famous...and oldest ghostly legends.  Although there are many variations to the story, the most popular involves a tale of lost love. During the early part of the 19th century, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner fell in love with a young gentleman.  By some accounts, this man, who was well beneath the girl's economic station in life, had left the island in order to claim his fortune elsewhere.  His fiancee waited patiently for his arrival, knowing that they were to be married upon his return.

The young man, having claimed his fortune, was ready to now claim his bride.  He and his manservant raced from Georgetown to Pawley's Island on horseback.  For whatever reason, the young man veered off the road to take a short-cut through the swampy marshland.  Slipping into an unseen patch of quicksand, the young man, along with his horse, soon perished as the manservant tried in vain to rescue him.  It was the manservant who had to deliver the sad news to the man's fiancee.

The young girl grieved for a period of time, refusing to leave her bedroom.  In fear of her health, her father finally convinced her to get out of the house for awhile.  She took to the beach, walking along a path that she and her lover had spent many happy hours together.  As she was walking, the wind started to pick up, whipping around her.  She noticed a man in the distance, coming towards her.  She recognized the man, fully clad in gray, as her lost love.  The man approached, and warned the girl that there was danger coming...and that she needed to leave the island.

The girl raced home to tell her parents of the incident, and the family left that night for the mainland.  That next day, a hurricane swept through the area, leaving a trail of death and destruction.  The family was safe and sound at their inland home, and returned to find their island home still intact as well.

Documented sightings of the Gray Man have occurred since 1822, and allegedly happen before every major hurricane hits the area.  Witnesses to the ghostly apparition all describe a man clad all in gray, and wearing a hat low over his eyes.  He warns them to leave the island, and thus far, they do.  Not only do the witnesses find themselves safely inland to ride out the storm, but their island properties are also spared.

In 1893, the Gray Man appeared before the Lachicotte family before the "Sea Islands Hurricane," and again in October of 1954 when he appeared to newlyweds Bill Collins and his bride.  He was also spotted before Hurricane Hugo struck the coast in September of 1989.  Will Hurricane Irene become the latest chance for the Gray Man to make his presence known?

Photo from Haunted Lowcountry, which also has more details on the story!


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