[*] The Jersey Devil is a creature that exists according to urban legend in southern New Jersey. It is said to look like a combination of a kangaroo and a goat, with bat-like wings. The “devil” part comes from the animal’s cloven hooves and forked tail, along with the fact that it is said to have a “blood-curdling” screech.
[*] There are over 2,000 individual reports of Jersey Devil sightings.
[*] Sightings of the Jersey Devil date back to the 1700s.
[*] The creature is sometimes referred to as the Leeds Devil.
[*] One story about the origin of the Jersey Devil is about a woman named Janet “Mother” Leeds from the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. According to Wikipedia, “The legend states that Mother Leeds had twelve children and, after finding she was pregnant for the thirteenth time, cursed the child in frustration, crying that the child would be the Devil. During 1735, Mother Leeds was in labor on a stormy night while her friends gathered around her. Born as a normal child, the thirteenth child changed to a creature with hooves, a goat’s head, bat wings, and a forked tail. Growling and screaming, it killed the midwife before flying up the chimney and heading into the pines. In some versions of the tale, Mother Leeds was supposedly a witch and the child’s father was the Devil himself. Some versions of the legend also state that there was subsequently an attempt by local clergymen to exorcise the creature from the Pine Barrens, or that the creature proceeded to kill local children.”
[*] In 1820, Napoleon’s older brother, Joseph Bonaparte, saw the Jersey Devil near his Bordertown, New Jersey home.
[*] In the early 1800’s war hero Stephen Decatur saw the Jersey Devil fly across the sky while he was checking equipment on a firing range. He claimed he fired a cannonball at the beast, hit it, and the animal kept going.
[*] In 1909 a Woodbury, New Jersey resident described an encounter with the Jersey Devil: “I heard a hissing and something white flew across the street. I saw two spots of phosphorus – the eyes of the beast. There was a white cloud, like escaping steam from an engine. It moved as fast as an auto.”
[*] In 1909 alone there were over 1,000 eyewitness accounts of the Jersey Devil.
[*] In 1927 a taxi driver was pulled over when he said the Jersey Devil “pounded” on the roof of his vehicle.
[*] One theory is that sightings of the “Jersey Devil” are actually sandhill cranes:
[*] Other people think the Jersey Devil is a Pterodactyl that has survived since the Jurassic Period.
[*] A third theory is that the Devil is a deformed child. This could make sense with the origin story and the first few sightings, but not all the sightings and definitely not with the span of hundreds of years of eyewitness accounts.