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The Gray Man of Pawleys Island



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Hundreds of people have reported seeing a ghostly figure during intense storms on Pawleys Island. Locals claim the appearance of the figure is a bad omen meaning the storm will be destructive but usually the people who witness the Gray Man are spared.

History Pawleys Island

Beach houses on Pawleys Island. Photo source: townofpawleysisland.

Pawleys Island is a small town located on an Atlantic Coast Barrier Island in South Carolina.

The earliest inhabitants of the area were the Native American Waccamaw and Winyah people who had inhabited the land for over 10,000 years. European colonizers moved in during the 1500s having a devastating effect on the native population causing many to die from introduced diseases or from starvation after their hunting grounds were seized.

It was established as a resort town in the early 1700’s when plantation farmers stayed there during the sweltering summer months to escape from mosquito borne malaria upstream.

Nowadays the town has a leisurely vibe and is booming with tourists during the warmer months.

The Legend of the Gray Man of Pawleys Island

There are a number of variations in the legend depending on who you ask but the common themes are as follows.

A young man and woman were in love and engaged to be married. The man had been working at sea for a long time and had finally come ashore in Charleston. He jumped on his horse and headed for Pawleys Island to be reunited with his love.

A big storm was approaching and the man decided to take a shortcut through the marsh just outside of Pawleys Island to try and get there faster.

Darkness began to set in and the man’s horse started becoming stuck in the mud and threw the man off. The poor lover became stuck in the mud and drowned as floodwaters rose.

The young woman was distraught over the death of her lover and would take regular walks on the beach of Pawleys Island to try and clear her mind and find some peace.

One day on one of her walks she came across a man dressed all in gray. As she got closer to him she recognized that he was her lost love.

Knowing her lover was dead and it couldn’t possible be him the woman questioned the man. He couldn’t answer her questions. He repeatedly told her to take her family and leave the island as a deadly storm was approaching.

Before she even had time to fully process what was happening the man vanished before her eyes. The woman rushed home and told her family what had happened.

In shock from the sighting they all gathered up their belongings and headed inland. A few days a later a powerful hurricane swept through the region leaving only one home on Pawleys Island untouched: the home of the young woman.

In other legends the Gray man is said to be the ghost of a local publican or even the founder of the community George Pawley himself.

According to local legend the Gray Man still appears on Pawleys Island in the days before a large storm. Some believe he is still searching for his love.

Legend has it the Gray Man will try to warn anyone he encounters to leave the island before a deadly storm hits and if the witness takes his advice their home will be miraculously spared from the storm.

Sightings of the Grey Man

Damage on Pawleys Island in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo. Photo Credit: Coastal Observer.

For some residents of Pawleys Island the Gray Man is more than just a legend. They have witnessed him for themselves!

Hurricane Hazel hit Pawleys Island in 1954 causing dozens of deaths and widespread damage. Several residents reported seeing a man wearing all gray walking on the beach just as the storm was coming in.

In 1990 Hurricane Hugo struck Pawleys Island causing the island to look like a warzone. A 16 foot storm surge powered over the island causing it to be cut in half. More than a hundred homes were destroyed in the storm.

One of the homes that was saved belonged to the Love family. Arney Love recalled to that his parents had gone down to their holiday home at Pawleys Island to board it up before hurricane Hugo.

After his parents had left Pawleys Island one of their friends was driving by and thought they saw Arnie’s dad, wearing all grey, out on the lookout. Once they heard Arnie’s dad had already left they realised it might have been the grey man that they saw. In the end the Love’s house was one of the few that were spared.

Another Frequent Pawleys Island visitor Melanie Moore Tanner described a similar story in a weather channel documentary. Tanner’s parents saw a a shadowy male figure dressed in all gray on the beach near their home just before hurricane Hugo. Their beloved family survived the storm which was especially luck since their insurance had lapsed just weeks beforehand.

More recently in 2018 several people reported seeing the Gray Man walking along the coast of Pawleys Island before Hurricane Florence hit. The hurricane caused $24 million in damage and caused 54 deaths.

If you’re ever out walking the beaches of Pawleys Island be wary of the Gray Man. If you see him you know its time to get out of there!

If you enjoyed this article you may also enjoy the story of the ghostly handprint of Francis Leavy or the legend of the Elmore Rider.

Further Reading:

The Gray Man of Pawleys Island by Sasha Yeager.

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Walking Sam: The Suicide Spirit of Pine Ridge




Walking Sam: The Suicide Spirit. Photo: Ranker.

In 2015 a spree of suicides took place in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Some believe these were caused by an evil spirit called Walking Sam.

Who is Walking Sam?

An artist’s depiction of Walking Sam. Photo: Ranker

Walking Sam is known by various names, including “Tall Man” and “Stovepipe Hat Bigfoot.” He is a towering figure standing at seven feet tall and has eyes but no mouth, sometimes wearing a stove-pipe hat.

When he raises his arms, people can see the bodies of his past victims hanging beneath him. Walking Sam is said to call out to teenagers and try to convince them that they are worthless, urging them to take their own lives. Some believe that he targets young people because they are more vulnerable to his manipulations.

According to Native American legends, Walking Sam is an ancient being closely linked to “Stick Indians,” who are dark and shadowy spirit entities.

Kids grow up hearing spooky stories about these evil forces that haunt reservations and try to lure unsuspecting victims to their doom. They’re always followed by a creepy cloud of death that just hangs around them.

If you hear whistling, it might be one of these Stick Indians nearby. But if you follow the sound, you could get paralyzed, hypnotized, or even lose your mind completely.

If you disrespect them, they’ll hold a grudge and seek revenge no matter what. Some tribes are so scared of them that they won’t even talk about them, so we don’t know everything about these beings. But Walking Sam is supposed to be one of the most powerful ones.

There are those who believe that Walking Sam represents the pain and trauma that the Lakota Indians endure on a daily basis. Given the deep spiritual connection that the Lakota people have with their land and heritage, some see Walking Sam as a physical embodiment of this suffering.

The Pine Ridge Suicides

A video telling the story of Walking Sam

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is located near the Black Hills of South Dakota and is home to the Oglala Lakota tribe. It’s one of the largest Indian reservations in the US. Sadly, Pine Ridge has a sad past as hundreds of Lakota Indians were killed during the Wounded Knee Massacre.

It’s one of the poorest counties in the US. In 2015, a number of young people committed suicide on the reservation, and some people thought that supernatural forces like the legendary Walking Sam were to blame.

From December 2014 to March 2015, there were a staggering 103 suicide attempts, with nine of them being successful, and tragically, none of the victims were older than twenty-five.

The majority of those who died had used hanging as the method of suicide. Although there had been other clusters of suicides in previous years, this was the largest. As the community struggled to understand and deal with the crisis, some looked to traditional Native American beliefs for answers.

Lakota children are raised hearing stories about “suicide spirits,” “stick people,” and shadow people who try to lure young people away from their homes at night. These stories may have evolved over time, influenced by the popularity of Slender Man, into the figure now known as Walking Sam.

Walking Sam Sightings

During meetings of reservation officials, one of the topics that often comes up is Walking Sam. These officials advise reservation members to avoid walking on the streets at night as it would be an ideal time for Walking Sam to approach his victims.

Several residents have expressed concern and requested the police to keep a lookout for Walking Sam. Many residents have reported seeing his shadow and have shared their encounters with the police. Some residents have even reported hearing whistling sounds coming from nowhere.

Have you ever seen Walking Sam? Let us know in the comments.

If you enjoyed learning about Walking Sam you might also be interested in Diao Si Gui: Chinese Hanged Ghosts or La Ciguapa: The Woman with Backwards Feet.

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Diao Si Gui: Chinese Hanged Ghosts




A Diao Si Gui or Hanged Ghost. Photo: Cryptid Wiki

According to Chinese legend, Diao Si Gui are the souls of those who took their own lives or were executed. These spirits may manifest as a body with a protruding, lengthy red tongue and attempt to persuade those who cross their path to join them in the world beyond.

The Legend of the Diao Si Gui

Diao Si Gui, or Hanged Ghosts can be created in two ways: when a person takes their own life by hanging or when they are executed by hanging as a punishment for their crimes.

The more prolonged and painful the death, such as by slow suffocation instead of a quick snap of the neck, the greater the likelihood of them becoming a Diao Si Gui.

These ghosts are said to haunt the vicinity of the location where they committed suicide and are often depicted with a noose around their neck, dangling feet, and long red tongues hanging from their mouths.

It is believed that one should avoid making eye contact with a Dio Si Gui as they may lure you into a hypnotic state and persuade you to hang yourself.

In some versions of the legend, if the ghost successfully persuades someone to hang themselves, that person becomes a Hanged Ghost while the original ghost goes free.

Other versions suggest that a Hanged Ghost is not limited to a specific location and can torment a person for days, gradually convincing them to take their own life. When the time is right, the ghost will appear to the person in a high place and lower a noose to them.

Stories About Diao Si Gui

In the Chinese Fairy Book by Dr. R. Wilhelm (1921), there is a story known as The Hanged Ghost, which tells the tale of a soldier seeking refuge for the night in an old, run-down temple.

While there, he witnesses a female ghost descending from the rafters, unaware of his presence in the shadows. Intrigued, he follows her to a farmhouse where he discovers the ghost urging a young mother and her child to hang themselves. The soldier intervenes, saving the woman’s life and causing the ghost to flee.

On his way back to the temple, the soldier takes the rope left behind by the ghost, but she appears on the road and demands that he give it back.

He refuses and wraps the rope around his arm, causing the ghost to transform and attack him. The soldier defends himself by flinging his own blood at the ghost, causing her to retreat. He continues his journey with the rope now part of his arm, unfazed by the encounter.

A video telling the tale of Diao Si Gui or hanged ghosts

Possible Explanations for the Diao Si Gui

It is possible that the legend of the hanged ghost came about as a way to help families come to terms with the unexpected suicides of their loved ones. It’s easier to believe that a loved one may have been manipulated in to killing them self by a spirit than it is to believe that they wanted to die.

Have you ever seen a Diao Sui Gui or Hanged Ghost? Let us know in the comments.

If you enjoyed learning about the Diao Sui Gui you might also be interested in the mysterious stain left behind by the body of Margaret Schilling or how the ghost of Teresita Basa solved her own murder.

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