The Jersey Devil, the supposed mythical creature of the New Jersey Pinelands, has haunted New Jersey and the surrounding areas for the past 260 years. This entity has been seen by over 2,000 witnesses over this period. It has terrorized towns and caused factories and schools to close down, yet many people believe that the Jersey Devil is a legend, a mythical beast, that originated from the folklore of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Others disagree with this point of view. The following text will show there is evidence to support the existence of an animal or supernatural bring known as the Jersey Devil. The evidence consists of the stories of the Jersey Devil's origin, the sightings of it, and finally, the theories on it.
There are many different versions of the birth of the Jersey Devil. One of the most popular legends says a Mrs. Shrouds of Leeds Point, NJ made a wish that if she ever had another child, she want it to be a devil. Her next child was born misshapen and deformed. She sheltered it in the house, so the curious couldn't see him. On stormy night, the child flapped it's arms, which turned into wings, and escaped out the chimney and was never seen by the family again. A Mrs. Bowen of Leeds point said, "The Jersey Devil was born in the Shrouds house at Leeds Point." 1 Another story that also placed the birth at Leeds Point said that a young girl fell in love with a British soldier during the Revolutionary War. The people of Leeds Point cursed her. When she gave birth, she had a devil. Some people believe the birth of the devil was punishment for the mistreatment of a minister by the Leeds folk.Edit
Another story placed the birth in Estelville, NJ. Mrs. Leeds, of Estelville, finding out she was pregnant with her 13th child, shouted,"I hope it's a devil". She got her wish. The child wad born with horns, a tail, wings, and a horse-like head. The creature revisited Mrs. Leeds everyday. She stood at her door and told it to leave. After awhile, the creature got the hint and never returned.
Burlington, NJ, also claims to be the birthplace of the Jersey Devil. In 1735, Mother Leeds was in labor on a stormy night. Gathered around her were her friends. Mother Leeds was supposedly a witch and the child's father was the devil himself. The child was born normal, but then changed form. It changed from a normal baby to a creature with hooves, a horses head, bat wings and a forked tail. It beat everyone present and flew up the chimney. It circled the villages and headed toward the pines. In 1740 a clergy exercised the devil for 100 years and it wasn't seen again until 1890.
There are many other versions of the legend. The legends say it was the 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, or 13th child, It was born normal or deformed, and the mother confined it to the cellar or the attic. Although there are many discrepancies in all of these stories, there are 3 pieces of evidence that tie all of the legends of the Jersey Devil's origin together.
'The first thing that ties the legends together is the name "Leeds". Whether the mothers name was Leeds or the birth place was Leeds Point, all of the stories include the name Leeds. Alfred Heston, the Atlantic County Historian, believes that the devil could be a Leeds or a Shrouds baby. He discovered that a Daniel Leeds opened land in Great Egg Harbor, NJ, in 1699. His family lived in Leeds Point. He also discovered a Samuel Shrouds, Sr. came to Little Egg Harbor, NJ, in 1735 and lived right across the river from the house of Mother Leeds. The 3rd fact ties in the Burlington story with the others stories. Professor Fred MacFadden of Coppin State College, Baltimore, found that a "devil" was mentioned in writings from Burlington as early as 1735. He also indicated that the word Burlington was used to was the word used to names the area from the city of Burlington to the Atlantic Ocean. This means that the name that is now used for the birthplace such as Leeds point or 'Estelville, could be the same place referred to in the Burlington Legend.Edit
apearances on populare cultureEdit
- The Jersey Devil appears in The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest episode "The Spectre of the Pine Barrens" voiced by Frank Welker.
- The Jersey Devil appears in the American Dragon: Jake Long episode "The Long Weekend" voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. It is depicted with the head of a moose with different horns as well as a moose's back legs, claw-like hands, the wings of an eagle, and the tail of a lion. It terrorized a city of wood sprites in New Jersey while Jake was on a camping trip with his dad.
- The Jersey Devil" is a season one episode of The X-Files, which revealed the creature as feral people living in the forest.
- The Jersey Devil appears in the Animal Planet cryptozoological series Lost Tapes.
- The Jersey Devil was the subject of investigation on the episode "Devil in Jersey" of the A&E show Paranormal State.
- In 2008, the History Channel program MonsterQuest filmed an episode in and around the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, centered on several recent sightings of the mythical creature, and positing the notion that the creature could very well be a great horned owl or other known predator bird. The episode entitled "Devils in New Jersey" was aired in February 2009 in the third season of the series and also featured The Devil Hunters