The Gray Man (ghost)

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The Gray Man
CountryUnited States
RegionPawleys Island, South Carolina

In South Carolina ghostlore, the Gray Man is a ghost reportedly seen on the coast of Pawleys Island, South Carolina that warns residents of coming severe storms and hurricanes. Although there are many variations of the legend, most say the Gray Man was first seen in 1822, three years before the town government was incorporated. The last reported sighting was just before Hurricane Florence hit in 2018[1] and previously just before Hurricane Hugo hit the area in 1989.[2]

History and legend[edit]

Legend holds that the Gray Man is the ghost of a young man traveling from Charleston to see his fiancée in 1822.[3] On the way, he and his horse were caught in quicksand-like pluff mud in the marshes before Pawley's Island, and died. His spirit has haunted the shore nearby ever since, looking for the girl he loved.[2]

The legend appears to have first entered print in Julian Stevenson Bolick's book Waccamaw Plantations, published in 1946,[4] and was repeated more elaborately in his 1956 book of ghost stories.[5]

The Gray Man got national attention just after Hurricane Hugo when residents Jim and Clara Moore were interviewed on the television show Unsolved Mysteries, which aired in 1990.[6] They told their story about seeing the man on the beach and how he disappeared when they waved. Their house was spared in the storm while the homes of their neighbors were heavily damaged.[2]

The Weather Channel aired a series in 2014, American Super/Natural, that devoted an entire episode to the Gray Man.[7]

People who have allegedly encountered the spirit have credited him with saving them or their homes. Either they have come ashore or left the area and returned to find their homes and belongings unscathed by severe storms.[2] He has been described as a man wearing gray clothing, a long coat, dressed "like a pirate," and sometimes as having no legs.[2]

Further reading[edit]

  • Carmichael, Sherman (2012). Legends and Lore of South Carolina. The History Press. ASIN B008VSDA7S.
  • The Return of the Gray Man, by Julian Stevenson Bolick (Jeptha, Inc.)
  • Ghosts of Georgetown, by Elizabeth Robertson Huntsinger (John F. Blair)
  • More Ghosts of Georgetown, by Elizabeth Robertson Huntsinger (John F. Blair)
  • Down By the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community, by Charles Joyner (University of Illinois Press)
  • Heaven is a Beautiful Place: A Memoir of the South Carolina Coast, by Genevieve C. Peterkin (University of South Carolina Press)
  • The Old and New Legends of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina-Tales of the South Strand by Christine Vernon (Self-Published)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "As Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast, 'the Gray Man' warns Pawleys Island".
  2. ^ a b c d e "Gray Man: Pawleys Island's local spirit is among state's best known ghosts". Coastal Observer Pawleys Island, SC Thursday, July 19, 2012., Jackie R. Broach. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  3. ^ Thomason, John (February 27, 2020). "The Ghosts of Georgetown County". Oxford American. No. 108 (Spring 2020 ed.). Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  4. ^ Bolick, Julian Stevenson (1946). Waccamaw Plantations. Georgetown County, S.C.: Jacobs. p. 86.
  5. ^ Bolick, Julian Stevenson (1956). Georgetown Ghosts (South Carolina Low Country).
  6. ^ Unsolved Mysteries. Season 3. Episode 7. October 31, 1990. NBC.
  7. ^ "Haunted Hurricane Island". American Super/Natural. Season 1. Episode 2. October 12, 2014. The Weather Channel.