Jersey Devil & Folklore
The New Jersey Pinelands is home to miles of pine trees and sandy roads, but it is also home to New Jersey’s most infamous resident... The Jersey Devil. Designated in 1938 as the country’s only state demon, the Jersey Devil is described as a kangaroo-like creature with the face of a horse, the head of a dog, bat-like wings, horns and a tail. For more than 250 years this mysterious creature is said to prowl through the marshes of Southern New Jersey and emerge periodically to rampage through the towns and cities.
[+ ZOOM] One interpretation of the Jersey Devil (c) PPA
The most widely held belief about the origin of the Jersey Devil is that Mrs. Leeds, a resident of Estellville, was distraught when she learned she was expecting for the thirteenth time. In disgust, she cried out, "Let it be the devil!" The story continues that the child arrived and it was a baby devil. The creature then gave a screech unfolded its wings and flew out the window and into the adjacent swamp.
Countless stories have circulated describing the Devils escapades, raiding chicken coops and farms, destroying crops and killing animals. His presence has been seen and felt by many in at least fifty different towns when he emerges from his natural lair in the Pinelands and wanders throughout Southern New Jersey, sometimes intriguing and sometimes terrorizing the residents. Posses were constantly formed to apprehend the Devil, but to no avail and at one point, as much as $100,000 was offered for the capture of the Jersey Devil, dead or alive. Several reports of the Jersey Devil's death also proved to be inconclusive and even the scientific community could not explain its existence.
Belief in the Jersey Devil is quite real and based on records of concrete occurrences. Reliable people, including police, government officials, businessmen and many others who so integrity is beyond question, have witnessed the Devil’s activities. To this day, people traveling down the Garden State Parkway or the Atlantic City Expressway reported sightings of “something” or tell stories of strange occurrences. Many continue to believe that the legendary being is still around disturbing the region and will continue to do so for generations to come.
NJ Historical Society
Elk Township's Jersey Devil Mythology
Courier-Post Brainstorm article
The Jersey Devil, by James F. McCloy and Ray Miller, Jr., Middle Atlantic Press. ISBN 0-912608-11-0
Tales of the Jersey Devil, by Geoffrey Girard., Middle Atlantic Press. ISBN 0-9754419-2-2
Phantom of the Pines: More Tales of the Jersey Devil by James F. McCloy and Ray Miller, Middle Atlantic Press, ISBN 0912608951