The Terrifying Jersey Devil May Just be the Best Thing About the State

posted: 10/04/16
by: Sasha Brown-Worsham

In a state full of very strange things, it should seem a little surprising that the strangest of all is the legend of a cryptid who lives deep in the Pine Barrens and stalks local residents. But it is. The state is New Jersey and its strangest resident is a cross between a horse and a bat with some terrifying elements that make it entirely unique. They call it the Jersey Devil and the legend has been going strong for hundreds of years.

Legend has it that the Jersey Devil was actually born of a human woman by the name of Mother Leeds. She lived in the Pine Barrens in old New Jersey in 1735 when she fell pregnant with her thirteenth child. The family had neither money nor an enormous amount of love between the two parents and the pregnancy was an unwelcome one. According to the tale, she cursed the pregnancy and said she hoped the baby inside was born a devil.

Later, when the thirteenth baby was born, he seemed to be a normal baby boy and she forgot the curse. Soon after birth, however, the baby changed. He grew horns on his head and claws on his hands. He grew wings like a bat along with hair and feathers. His eyes began glowing bright red before turning on his mother and killing her. He tore the midwives limb from limb and then attacked and killed much of his family before flying up the chimney and out of the house.

Nearly 300 years later, people are still seeing the Jersey Devil (sometimes also called the Leeds Devil) and claiming they hear moans and shrieks coming from inside the remote area in Southern Jersey.

Between January 16 and 23, 1909, people across the Delaware Valley reported finding strange footprints in the snow. They were in fields and backyards as well as on rooftops. Panic ensued. Dogs refused to follow the scent to get to the bottom of whatever was leaving the tracks and the Barrens were forced to close when people refused to travel through the area to get to work.

Witnesses said something resembling a flying kangaroo attacked their pets and livestock. Though there has never been a week as terrifying as this one, sightings have continued into the present day and many Jersey kids are warned not to camp in the Pine Barrens and not to walk through alone at night.

Is this just a legend or something real that we need to fear? No one can say for sure. But as a New Jersey resident, I know I will keep my kids close and myself far from the Pine Barrens at night.

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