The Jersey Devil

220px-Jersey_Devil_Philadelphia_Post_1909

Photo from Wikipedia

What is the Jersey Devil?

According to Wikipedia, the Jersey Devil “is a legendary creature said to inhabit the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey. The creature is often described as a flying biped with hooves, but there are many variations.” (Wikipedia)

This devil is said to the haunt the woods of Pine Barren, New Jersey. So this is mainly where the name comes from. This particular creature has never been caught on film or captured. It is a fairly popular topic because it has been mentioned in books, on television, including the famous show “The X-Files.” Based on the sightings of the Jersey devil it has a horse-like face and horns. It walks on two feet which are said to be some kind of hooves. It’s body is kind of shaped like that of a kangaroos but it is also said to have giant wings. Some say it has a tail and some do not. There is some variation with people’s description of the creature but for the most part they are all pretty similar.

People say it eats small animals like dogs and chickens. It is known to leave disturbing hoove prints in the snow and have a terryfing screech that supposedly can be heard from the woods it inhabits. (Live Science)

Origins

The legend of the Jersey Devil has been around since the 18th century. The original story of how the Jersey Devil came to be has changed slightly over the years but for the most part has stayed the same. It goes a little something like this:

A woman by the name of Mother Leeds gave birth to her 13th child. She was supposedly a witch so she gave birth to the devil’s child on her 13th time of delivering. Not long after being born, the child started to turn into the Jersey Devil, the legend some people believe and fear. The newly turned creature supposedly took flight and killed a midwife in the process. It bellowed a loud, terrifying screech and disappeared into the woods. And that is how the Jersey Devil was born.

This story isn’t very factual. When there was research done into the story they didn’t find any evidence suggesting that the Leeds family participated in witch craft. But despite the holes in this story, over the past 250 years hundreds of people have claimed to have seen the Jersey Devil.

The legend of the Jersey Devil wasn’t always as well known as it is today. It’s popularity didn’t really spark until around 1909 when a few devil sightings happened in Philadelphia. This caused a business man to stage a hoax. (Live Science)

“He painted a kangaroo green, attached fake wings to the helpless creature, and had it exhibited to the public.” – Live Science

This inspired many more hoaxes and sightings for years to come. There are quite a few people that believe in the Jersey Devil but there is a lot of evidence supporting the fact that it is just a hoax. It’s physical features make it very unlikely that a creature like that exists. It biologically really makes no sense. There is the belief that people’s sightings are nothing other than deer or trees or whatever else could potentially take shape of something similar to the creature’s description. (Live Science)

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Photo from ABC News

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Photo from Play with Death

Sightings

In 1839, Joseph Boneparte who was the former king of Spain and the brother of Napoleon had leased a house in the country near Bordertown. He said, he saw the Jersey Devil while he was hunting game one day.

In 1909, a police officer by the name of James Sackville, said he saw the Jersey Devil. He said he was walking by an alley one night when a creature with wings jumped out of the darknes and released a terrifying screech. He said he fired his weapon at the creature but it did not stop it. It supposedly started flapping it’s wings and then disappeared into the night sky. There were many reported sightings that year.

In 1927, a cab driver reported that he saw the Jersey Devil. He said he was on his way to Salem when he got a flat tire. He pulled over to change it, got out of his car, and changed his tire. That is when he saw it. Supposedly, a giant winged creature started pounding on the hood of his car. He jumped back into his vehicle and took off. He said he even forgot his flat tire on the side of the road he was so frightened.

One sighting in 1960 got a decent amount of people’s attention. A group of people were supposedly terrorized by loud screeching noises. State officials investigated but there was no explanation found. Police posted flyers and made statements that the Jersey Devil was not real but this didn’t stop curious people from swarming to the area. Even Harry Hunt, owner of the famous ‘Hunter Brothers Circus’ offered a reward for the creatures capture. He offered $100,000 dollars because he wanted to feature the creature in his circus.

One of the more recent sightings was in 1993. A forest ranger by the name of James Irwin reported seeing some kind of creature on the road, blocking him. He said it was six-feet tall with horns and matted black hair. He said the creature held his gaze for a few minutes before it ran into the surrounding forest. (Prairie Ghosts)

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Photo from Deviant Art

The Jersey Devil is a popular legend. It has been investigated and studied but there is no evidence proving it’s existence. In fact, there is a lot of evidence against existence of the creature. But who knows, scientists say there are thousands of species still undiscovered. Whether or not you believe in the legend of the Jersey Devil, it is entirely up to you. If you’re ever in the woods in Pine Barren just make sure you listen closely. If you hear something screeching, you should probably run in the other direction.

 

Sources

 

Live Science

Benjain Radford

2013

 

Prairie Ghosts

Troy Taylor

2002

 

Wikipedia

March, 2018

 

 

 

 

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