Jersey Devil

Jersey Devil, sometimes called the Leeds Devils, is a legendary creature or cryptid said to inhabit the Pine Barrens in southern New Jersey. The creature is often described as a flying biped with hooves, but there are many variations. The Jersey Devil has worked its way into the pop culture of the area, even lending its name to New Jersey's team in the National Hockey League. Some people think the Sandhill Crane (which has a 7 feet wingspan) is the basis of the Jersey Devil stories. The physical descriptions of the Jersey Devil appear to be mostly consistent with a species of pterosaur such as a dimorphodon. Some witnesses say that the Jersey Devil that haunts the Pine Barrens in southeastern New Jersey is a cross between a goat and a dog with cloven hoofs and the head of a collie. Others swear that it has a horse’s head with the body of a kangaroo. Most of the people who have sighted the creature mention a long tail, and nearly all of the witnesses agree that the thing has wings. But it doesn’t really fly as much as it hops and glides. Whatever the Jersey Devil is, people have been sighting it in the rural area in South Jersey since 1735, which, according to local legend, is the year that it was born.

Rather than some monstrous animal that was somehow spawned in the one million acres of pines that still remain some distance from the state’s cities and refineries, the Jersey Devil has at least a semihuman origin. It seems that there was a prominent family in South Jersey whose patriarch demanded a large number of heirs to carry on the Leeds name to future generations. While that might have been well and good for Mr. Leeds, when she learned that she was about to bear her thirteenth child, Mrs. Leeds decided that she had enough. She had grown tired of being continually pregnant to satisfy her husband’s ego. In a fit of rage, it is said that she cursed the unborn child within her and cried out that she would rather bear the devil’s child than give birth to another Leeds for posterity.

Visualizing the image of Satan, Mrs. Leeds decreed that she wished the child to be born with claws and fangs, fierce and wild as some vicious beast. The old legend said that Mrs. Leeds was granted her angry wish of revenge. The baby was born a monster with devilish fangs, claws, tail, and cloven hoofs, but the extremes of its viciousness soon eclipsed the borders of Leeds’s curse. The little monster ate every one of the other Leeds children and escaped out of the chimney to begin its reign of terror among the farmers and villagers of the region. For well over 200 years, terrified witnesses have claimed to encounter the Jersey Devil.

The most famous series of sightings occurred in January 1909 when hundreds of men and women reporting seeing or hearing the frightening creature. So many people refused to leave the safety of their homes that local mills were forced to shut down for lack of workers. As with so many of its kind, local folklore has it that the Jersey Devil serves as an omen of tragedy and war. According to some witnesses, the being was sighted just prior to the onset of the Civil War (1861–65) and again before the start of the Spanish-American conflict (1898) and World War I (1914–18). In addition to these encounters, the creature was seen flying over several other towns. Since the week of terror in 1909, sightings have been much less frequent. In 1951 there was another panic in Gibbstown, New Jersey, after local boys claimed to have seen a screaming humanoid monster.

A bizarre rotting corpse vaguely matching the Jersey Devil description was discovered in 1957, leaving some to believe the creature was dead. However, there have been many sightings since that time. In 1960, the merchants around Camden offered a 10,000 dollar reward for the capture of the Jersey Devil, even offering to build a private zoo to house the creature if captured. To date, the reward has been unclaimed. In 1991, a pizza delivery driver in Edison, New Jersey described a night encounter with a white, horselike creature.

In Freehold, New Jersey, in 2007, a woman supposedly saw a huge creature with bat-like wings near her home. In August of the same year, a young man driving home near the border of Mount Laurel and Moorestown, New Jersey reported a similar sighting, claiming that he spotted a "gargoyle-like creature with partially spread bat wings" of an enormous wingspan perched in some trees near the road. In January 23, 2008 the Jersey Devil was spotted again this time in Litchfield, Pennsylvania by a local resident that claims to have seen the creature come barreling out of the roof of his barn. Some skeptics believe the Jersey Devil to be nothing more than a creative manifestation of the English settlers.

The aptly named Pine Barrens were shunned by most early settlers as a desolate, threatening place. Being relatively isolated, the barrens were a natural refuge for those wanting to remain hidden, including religious dissenters, loyalists, fugitives and military deserters in colonial times. Such individuals formed solitary groups and were pejoratively called "pineys", some of whom became notorious bandits known as "pine robbers". Pineys were further demonized after two early twentieth century eugenics studies depicted them as congenital idiots and criminals. It is easy to imagine early tales of terrible monsters arising from a combination of sightings of genuine animals such as bears, the activities of pineys, and fear of the barrens. Outdoorsman and author Tom Brown Jr spent several seasons living in the wilderness of the Pine Barrens. He recounts occasions when terrified hikers mistook him for the Jersey Devil, after he covered his whole body with mud to repel mosquitoes.

Not surprisingly, the Jersey Devil legend is fueled by the various testimonials from reputable eyewitnesses who have reported to have encountered the creature, from precolonial times to the present day, as there are still reported sightings within the New Jersey area.

Many contemporary theorists believe that the Jersey Devil could possibly be a very rare, unclassified species which instinctually fears and attempts to avoid humans. Such elements that support this theory include the overall similarities of the creature's appearance (horselike head, long neck and tail, leathery wings, cloven hooves, blood-curdling scream), with the only variables being the height and color. Another factor that supports the cryptozoological theory is the fact that it is more likely that a species could endure over a span of several hundred years, rather than the existence of a single creature living for over 500 years.

(Sources : Encyclopedia of Unusual & Unexplained Things; and Wikipedia)
(Pic source : Wikipedia)
Jersey Devil Jersey Devil Reviewed by Tripzibit on 16:03 Rating: 5


  1. Thanks for posting this. One of my real-life best friends named Paul is from SE New Jersey, and he mentions this to me all the time. It's funny because my nickname for him is the Jersey Devil because he can come out of nowhere and be angry at someone or something! Hahaha.

    Yeah, it isn't too far away from being 300 years old if the legend of it is in fact true. Still, it is an abnormal creature of some kind which we don't know conclusively yet.

    Anyway, I'm going to send this link to my friend Paul so he can check this out! He'll enjoy and thanks for the great post as always my good friend!:)

  2. (zorlone) Yes, mysteries is always interesting :D

    (David Funk) I hope he doesn't looks like the creature, hehe...(just kidding)

    Sure, you can send this article to him. But, all the credits will be given to the authors not me. Happy day to u :)


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