The Gray Man: 200 Years Later

By Michael Maynor

We are at the end of October, but we have over a month left in the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. We have already had one major storm with hurricane Ian causing historic damage in Florida. Reports say Ian is the worst hurricane to hit Florida since the 1935 Labor Day hurricane slammed into the Keys with winds of 180 mph.

The Labor Day hurricane left a wake of devastation and claimed the lives of 485 people. Many veterans from the Great War were among the dead, as they had come to the Keys to work on a road construction project connecting the Island to the mainland. The deaths of these veterans angered a fellow World War One veteran and Key West resident Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway visited the three work camps and helped in the recovery missions after riding the storm out in his home. Papa’s involvement in the aftermath of the hurricane will have to be an article for another time because we have a ghost story to tell 200 years in the making.

Pawleys Island, South Carolina, is located 70 miles north of Charleston and 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach. The town is one of the oldest summer resorts on the East Coast, with homes in the historic district dating from the late 1700s to the middle 1800s. The Island is no stranger to hurricanes. Having taken hits from such famous storms as Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Before each storm, The Gray Man is reported to make his appearance before a storm hits the Island. Before a storm hits the Island, legend says a ghostly specter can be seen walking along the beach, a phantom known only as “The Gray Man.”

To tell the story of The Gray Man, we must travel back 200 years to September of 1822 when a storm referred to as ” The Great Storm Of 1822″ hit the Island. This storm was catastrophic, with the loss of life totaling 300 souls. Legend says The Gray Man was first seen before this storm and has appeared before every major hurricane that has threatened the Island since. Those who have taken his appearance as a sign to go ashore or leave the Island have reportedly had their lives and property spared.

The Gray Man’s identity and origins are still being determined. The most accepted legend is that he was a gentleman traveling by horse from Charleston to see his love when he and his horse got caught in quicksand-like pluff mud. The horse and rider lost their lives before reaching their final destination. The Gray Man was seen last in 2018 before Hurricane Florence.

is a native North Carolinian with a passion for the sporting lifestyle and all things Southern. He can't stop buying books and loves collecting old duck decoys. He seems ok, but deep down inside, he wants to be back in Africa on Safari. John 3:16