The Jersey (Leeds) Devil
sometimes called the
Leeds Devil, is
a mythical creature/cryptid  that allegedly makes its home in
the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey, United States. It's often
referred to as a winged biped with hooves. The detailed description,
that of a kangaroo-like creature with the head of a horse or goat,
bat-like leathery wings, horns, taloned hands, cloven hooves and a
bifurcated tail. It's said to be extremely quick and the possessor of a
As part of today's popular culture the
Jersey Devil has been featured in movies and on television, has lent
its name to New Jersey's professional hockey team and is the nickname
of the 177 Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard.
are a number of possible origins for the Jersey Devil legend, the
earliest dating back to Native American folklore with the Pine Barrens
and surrounding environs being referred to as “Popuessing,” or
“place of the dragon,” by the Delaware Indians.
early Europeans in turn called the area “Drake Kill,” “drake” in Middle
English meaning dragon, and “kill” (kille in Middle Dutch) meaning
water channel, riverbed or creek.
For most New Jerseyans, however, the legend begins in 1735 with Mother
Leeds  who, finding
she was pregnant for the13th time, stated that the latest was the work
of the Devil. The child born normal was said to have suddenly morphed,
taking on the appearance of a creature with a goat's head, hooves
instead of feet, wings and a forked tail. After killing the midwife, it
flew up the chimney circled the area and disappeared into the Pines.
Alleged sightings and things that go bump:
1820 Joseph Bonaparte, the Emperor Napoleon's elder brother, is said to
have seen the Jersey Devil while hunting at his Bordentown, New Jersey
In 1840/41 a number of livestock attacks, accompanied by tracks and
screams, were blamed on the Jersey Devil.
In 1870 a Long Beech fisherman claimed to have seen the Jersey Devil
serenading a mermaid.
early 1909 widespread newspaper reporting of claimed sightings/attacks
from South Jersey to Delaware led to mass panic and the closure of
factories and schools. Also during the period, purportedly and perhaps
tongue in cheek, it's reported that the Philadelphia Zoo posted a
$10,000 reward for the monster's droppings.
In 1951 a group of
New Jersey boys claimed to have seen a creature resembling the Jersey
Devil near Gibbstown, Gloucester County.
In 1978 two boys ice
skating, allegedly saw two red eyes glowing in the dark.
They claimed it was the Jersey Devil.
A number of people have
claimed to have heard but not seen the Devil, pointing out strange
tracks that seemingly start out of the blue then go nowhere.
view it as little more than a boogeyman story, a scary tale told around
the campfire to frighten the gullible in the dead of night.
and author Tom Brown, Jr. having spent several seasons living in the
wilderness of the Pine Barrens, recounts occasions when panicked
backpackers mistook him for the Jersey Devil after sighting him
slathered with mud to help repel mosquitoes.
Jeff Brunner of
the Humane Society of New Jersey believes the Sandhill Crane with its
wings. stick legs and loud screech to be the basis for many Jersey
stories, adding, “there is a lack of hard evidence and no explanation
of the devil's origins that doesn't require belief in the supernatural.”
 The word “cryptid” was devised by Manitoban John E. Wall and first
used in the International Society of Cryptozoology Newsletter, Summer
1983. It basically refers to creatures that are hypothetical, presumed
extinct or for which there is insufficient proof to establish their
existence with absolute certainty.
“Mother Leeds” is believed by many to be Deborah Smith (possibly an
English immigrant) who married Japhet Leeds, a New Jersey native, in
1704. The story goes (with variations) that having already given birth
to 12 children and while having difficulty giving birth to the 13th she
invoked the Devil's name in a cry for help. Giving credence to the
story, the family's home was in Leeds Point, Galloway Township,
Atlantic County, an area on the eastern fringes of the Pine Barrens
noted for numerous Jersey Devil sightings.
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