Perhaps the most frequently told ghost story in Georgetown County is that of the Grey Man.
According to numerous documented accounts, he appears on the beach at Pawleys Island prior to hurricanes. Everyone who has seen the Grey Man says that he warns them to leave the island.
Residents who are wise enough to heed the Grey Man's warning always find their homes undamaged after the storm. Encounters with the Grey Man have taken place before every major hurricane that has struck the island for more than a hundred years.
The Grey Man is unquestionably a permanent resident of Pawleys Island, but what causes this kind spirit to warn unsuspecting residents of approaching danger? The answer may lie in one of three different accounts that exist about the origin of the Grey Man.
According to one legend, a young woman was walking the windswept, lonely beach not far from her parent's Pawleys Island home. She was in mourning for her childhood sweetheart who had recently died in a tragic accident on the island.
Her love had returned to Georgetown by ship after an absence of several months. He was so eager to see his beloved fiancee that, rather than wasting one more precious moment away from her, he took a shortcut across previously untraveled marshland.
With his faithful manservant riding a short distance behind, the eager fellow and his horse came to a sudden stop and began to sink rapidly into a patch of deadly quicksand. His manservant watched in horror, unable to help his young master, as the young man and his horse disappeared into the mire. When the young woman heard of her finance's tragic death, she was heartbroken.
After the funeral, she took to walking the stretch of beach where she and her beau used to stroll in happier times. This particular day was windier than most, but it suited her recent mood. She was alone with her sadness in the whipping wind, with the ocean crashing by her side.
Suddenly, a figure appeared ahead. As she walked closer, the young woman could have sworn it was her finance. With no fear, she walked toward him. "Leave the island at once," he said. "You are in danger. Leave the island!"
Then he disappeared.
The young lady hurried home to tell her father and mother about the strange, unsettling experience. Upon hearing their daughter's strange story, her parents immediately began making plans to leave Pawleys Island for their inland home. They did not know what danger they were fleeing, but they did know that their daughter was a sensible person and not prone to flights of fancy.
The family left Pawleys Island before dawn the following morning. That night, as they lay sleeping in the safety of their inland home, a fierce hurricane ravaged Pawleys Island. The hurricane destroyed most of the homes on Pawleys Island, but the home of the young woman's family was undamaged.