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The Gray Man of Pawley's Island is the name given for a benevolent spirit that has been sighted on Pawley's Island, South Carolina for almost two centuries. While the ghost's identity is unknown, its motive is clear to those who live on the island: to save their lives and their homes from incoming hurricanes.
The Gray Man garnered supernatural intrigue after a couple named Jim and Clara Moore reported about seeing the Gray Man in 1989, just days before Hurrican Hugo hit. To date, the last known sighting of the Gray Man was in 2018 just before Hurricane Florence made landfall just north of the island.
According to local legend, the Gray Man is the spirit of a young man who in 1822, was engaged to be married to a beautiful daughter of a wealthy plantation owner. While traveling to Pawley's Island to visit his future wife just days before his wedding, the man fell into a thick marsh located on the outskirts of the island and drowned. A manservant, who was traveling with the man at the time, tried to save him, but it was too late. The news devastated the fiancee, who began to sink into a deep depression.
One night after trying to coup with the lose of her lover, she had a strange dream in which the spirit of her dead fiance visited her, and warned her to flee the island with her parents, implying that a hurricane was about to hit the island. The following day, the girl and her parents left the plantation as requested by her deceased lover. Upon returning to the island a few days later, they found that nearly all the residents had either died or fled from the hurricane, and that almost all the homes on the island had been destroyed, but miraculously, the family's plantation was unharmed.
Over a century went by, and sightings of a "Gray Man" began to pop up just before a hurricane hit. In all sightings, the Gray Man had warned particular residents to flee the island, and in all cases, those residents' homes were untouched from the incoming hurricanes.
Notable sightings of the Gray Man included in 1954 when he warned residents about Hurricane Hazel, in 1989 when he warned about Hurricane Hugo making landfall, and most recently in 2018 when he warned about Hurricane Florence's arrival.
It is unknown who exactly the Gray Man is the spirit of, but over the years several theories have been brought up. Among the following possible individuals the Gray Man could possibly be include:
- Percival Pawley, the island's namesake
- Plowden Charles Jeannerette Weston, an early resident who owned the home that is now Pelican Inn
- Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard
- The Gray Man has been featured on various television programs pertaining to supernatural mysteries, most notably on Unsolved Mysteries on October 31, 1990 (roughly a year after Hurricane Hugo hit), American Supernatural in 2014, and Mysteries at the Museum in 2019 (shortly after Hurricane Florence hit).