The Horrors Of The Jersey Devil

Sure, your state may have an official flower, animal, and flag, but does it have an official devil? If you're from New Jersey, the answer is yes, as the so-called Jersey Devil has reportedly roamed the giant pine barrens since the early 1700s.

Birth of a Devil

As with most legends, it is difficult to tell what is true about the Jersey Devil, and stories vary by time and tell. For the most part, however, the legend of the Jersey Devil begins with a poor woman named "Mother" Leeds, who had 12 children and a dead husband. Upon learning that she was pregnant with her 13th child, she is said to have wisely cursed Akash, declaring that it would be a "devil". When the baby was born, everything seemed fine: 10 fingers, 10 toes, etc. However, in a matter of minutes, the baby grew into a deformed and fearsome animal, with feathers, claws and hooves and attacked. Many in the house before eventually blowing up the chimney and fleeing into the pine forest.

Jersey Devil Strip from 1909.

The Legend Grows

For the next two centuries, the animal was observed throughout the area, most notably by Joseph Bonaparte (Napoleon's older brother) in 1812, when he claimed to have killed the devil while hunting around Bordentown, New Jersey. had seen. Following the tracks on the ground that he claimed to have belonged to a donkey, Bonaparte claimed to have come upon a strange creature, whose face resembled that of a horse, but stood on two legs before flapping its great wings and raising it to the sky. was hissing at him. . It is believed that Bonaparte had never heard of local lore when he met this strange animal, giving credence to his story in the community.

However, it was not until 1909 that the Jersey Devil moved from local lore to full-blown folk tale as East Coast newspapers began reporting the sighting. It was all started by Navy Commander Stephen Decatur, who claimed that the monster had only been shot down by cannonballs, as if taken aback. Soon, hundreds of reports surfaced about strange footprints and bloody tracks that Bloodhounds refused to follow, and began to be seen, even all the way, in Philadelphia. Either this creature acted too fast, or the collective imagination of the field did.

3-D printed, hand-painted miniature model of the Jersey Devil from the board game Fairsome Wilderness.

The Truth About Jersey Devil

While it is easy to hide such stories, there may actually be some truth to the legend of the Jersey Devil. There was actually one Deborah Leeds in the area at the time, and she actually had 12 children, although there is no record of a damned 13th. She was married to Japhet Leeds, whose father was Daniel Leeds, publisher of a farmer's almanac, who dealt extensively with astrology. Such things were decried as the occult by the nearby Quaker community, who banned the almanac, making it difficult to find a wide readership.

After Daniel Leeds' son, Titan, took over the publishing business, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin – not wanting a rival for his own poor Richard's almanac – jumped at the chance to connect Leeds to the extraterrestrial world and thereby discredit him. Gave, even going so far as to claim that the younger Leeds had died and continued publication from across the grave. It didn't help that Leeds had a wyvern emblem in his family crest that actually resembled the description of the Jersey Devil. Sightings are rare in modern times, but if you're ever in New Jersey, be sure to keep an eye out for any feathered, kangaroo-sized creatures with clove hooves, as the devil may still be lurking around the terrifying Pine Barrens Is.

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