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Thursday, March 28, 2024

The Jersey Devil

I don't like to go off bigfoot topics very often on here. But with my recent post on the Pine Barrens and sightings of bigfoot there, some questions and confusion on the Jersey Devil have occurred. So, today we relate some history of the Jersey Devil and stories of encounters with it and other more recent experiences that could be either it or bigfoot-related.
The Jersey Devil overall is described as a flying biped with hooves. There are variations on this theme, as you follow the story through the years. One of the more common says it is kangaroo-like, or wyvern-like, with the head of a goat, leathery bat wings, horns, small arms with clawed hands, cloven hooves, and a forked tail. It is said to move quickly and give a "blood-curdling scream".

The legend originates with a woman called Mother Leeds with 12 children. When she discovered she was once again pregnant, she declared the child the devil, thereby cursing it. In 1735, the woman gave birth. As soon as the child was born, it transformed into a monster and killed the midwife. It then flew up the chimney and disappeared into the Pine Barrens.

Another version claims the child first killed its mother, then the midwives (plural), and broke into another room to kill its father and as many of its siblings as it could before leaving for the woods.

Mother Leeds, in yet another version, was said to be a witch and the father of the child was the actual devil.

Some legends tell of clergymen trying to exorcise the monster from the woods and others talk of it killing local children.

Prior to 1909, the "monster" was referred to as the Leeds Devil or The Devil of Leeds. The name could have come from either the family name or the name of a local town, Leeds Point.

Some have traced the story to a woman named "Deborah Leeds" and say that she is "Mother Leeds" from the legend. Deborah was married to Japhet Leeds, who listed 12 children in his 1736 will.

January 16 to 23, 1909 was the Jersey Devil "flap". Newspapers published 100s of claimed encounters from all over the state. Among them were: it attacked a trolley car in Haddon Heights, attacked a social club in Camden, was fired at by Camden police with no effect, left footprints in the snow, closed schools, caused people to stay home from work, and generated many sightings of the creature. Vigilante groups and groups of hunters searched the Pine Barrens in hopes of finding and capturing or killing it. Rewards for the capture of this creature caused some hoaxes, one of which was a live kangaroo fitted with fake wings.

The Sandhill crane is credited by some to be responsible for the creation of the Jersey Devil. The reason? Because there were no photographs, no bones, no hard evidence, and no offered explanation of the creature that didn't include some belief in the supernatural.

A later description of the Jersey Devil is given with it having the body of a kangaroo, the head of a dog, the face of a horse, large leathery wings, deer-like antlers, a forked reptilian tail, and claws.

A 1972 sighting was reported. An upright figure, taller than a man was seen crossing a road. It also had thick haunches similar to a goat, a nearly human-looking torso, and a huge wooly head.

Other later stories of alleged Jersey Devil experiences resemble those experienced with a bigfoot.

One young person was camping alone. Around sundown, he was returning to his camp when something began following him back to the site. Once he got back, the creature began circling the campsite while the camper made supper and tried to settle for the night. After around 2 to 3 hours, everything became quiet and he assumed his visitor had left. Crawling into his tent, he began to settle down for the night. Suddenly there was a heavy foot stomp right behind his tent. He was ready to try and flee out of the tent when whatever it was began screaming. The volume was comparable to that of a horn from a large truck. It screamed several more times, then stopped. The camper remained frozen in his tent the rest of the night. In the morning when he finally emerged, he could see no tracks in the pine needles around his camp.

A second encounter was a young woman who visited the area three times on school-sponsored canoe/camping trips. Every time she was there, her canoe was followed by something "heavy-footed". She would hear branches snapping and every  10 minutes or so she would hear "deep beastly growls".

A man told of how one night he could hear screams coming from deep in the woods. His dog ran out into the woods towards the sounds. As the screams drew nearer, the dog came running back to the porch, tail between its legs. The frightened dog refused to leave the porch. The dog would not ever go back into the woods, not even with his master.

In 1981 a man from Howell Township told of seeing a 6 ft. tall creature with a furry body, huge three-toed feet, and large teeth.

There are stories of ghosts, of haunted ponds, of creatures that roam through the Pine Barrens. Is there a Jersey Devil? Why not? Is Bigfoot there? Why not? Is there room for ghosts and many different "monster creatures"? Of course.  Many "things" have been seen and heard in those woods. And many more will be. Good luck to those who go in to investigate. I'll listen to your stories; I'll look at your photos. Let the legend continue. I'm waiting.


"I'll spark the thought; what you do with it is up to you."
"Those that know, need no further proof. Those that don't, should not demand it from others, but seek it for themselves."

This Post is By TCC Team Member Nancy Marietta. Nancy has had a lifelong interest in the paranormal and cryptids. Nancy is also a published author and her book, The Price of War has been met with great reviews.

[Please Note: Sadly Nancy passed away on the first of January, 2022. We will continue to honor her and her research by sharing her work. RIP Nancy. -Thomas]

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