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The Jersey Devil

To: alt.satanism
From: "Nancy" 
Subject: The Jersey Devil
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 22:59:55 -0500

The Jersey Devil, the supposed mythical creature of the New Jersey
Pinelands, has haunted New Jersey and the surrounding areas for the past 260
years. This entity has been seen by over 2,000 witnesses over this period.
It has terrorized towns and caused factories and schools to close down, yet
many people believe that the Jersey Devil is a legend, a mythical beast,
that originated from the folklore of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Others
disagree with this point of view. The following text will show there is
evidence to support the existence of an animal or supernatural bring known
as the Jersey Devil. The evidence consists of the stories of the Jersey
Devil's origin, the sightings of it, and finally, the theories on it. There
are many different versions of the birth of the Jersey Devil. One of the
most popular legends says a Mrs. Shrouds of Leeds Point, NJ made a wish that
if she ever had another child, she want it to be a devil. Her next child was
born misshapen and deformed. She sheltered it in the house, so the curious
couldn't see him. On stormy night, the child flapped it's arms, which turned
into wings, and escaped out the chimney and was never seen by the family
again. A Mrs Bowen of Leeds point said, "The Jersey Devil was born in the
Shrouds house at Leeds Point." 1 Another story that also placed the birth at
Leeds Point said that a young girl fell in love with a British soldier
during the Revolutionary War. The people of Leeds Point cursed her. When she
gave birth, she had a devil. Some people believe the birth of the devil was
punishment for the mistreatment of a minister by the Leeds folk.
Another story placed the birth in Estelville, NJ. Mrs. Leeds, of Estelville,
finding out she was pregnant with her 13th child, shouted,"I hope it's a
devil". She got her wish. The child wad born with horns, a tail, wings, and
a horse-like head. The creature revisited Mrs. Leeds everyday. She stood at
her door and told it to leave. After awhile, the creature got the hint and
never returned. Burlington, NJ, also claims to be the birthplace of the
Jersey Devil. In 1735, Mother Leeds was in labor on a stormy night. Gathered
around her were her friends. Mother Leeds was supposedly a witch and the
child's father was the devil himself. The child was born normal, but then
changed form. It changed from a normal baby to a creature with hooves, a
horses head, bat wings and a forked tail. It beat everyone present and flew
up the chimney. It circled the villages and headed toward the pines. In 1740
a clergy exercised the devil for 100 years and it wasn't seen again until
There are many other versions of the legend. The legends say it was the 6th,
8th, 10th, 12th, or 13th child, It was born normal or deformed, and the
mother confined it to the cellar or the attic. Although there are many
discrepancies in all of these stories, there are 3 pieces of evidence that
tie all of the legends of the Jersey Devil's origin together.
The first thing that ties the legends together is the name "Leeds". Whether
the mothers name was Leeds or the birth place was Leeds Point, all of the
stories include the name Leeds. Alfred Heston, the Atlantic County
Historian, believes that the devil could be a Leeds or a Shrouds baby. He
discovered that a Daniel Leeds opened land in Great Egg Harbor, NJ, in 1699.
His family lived in Leeds Point. He also discovered a Samuel Shrouds, Sr.
came to Little Egg Harbor, NJ, in 1735 and lived right across the river from
the house of Mother Leeds. The 3rd fact ties in the Burlington story with
the others stories. Professor Fred MacFadden of Coppin State College,
Baltimore, found that a "devil" was mentioned in writings from Burlington as
early as 1735. He also indicated that the word Burlington was used to was
the word used to names the area from the city of Burlington to the Atlantic
Ocean. This means that the name that is now used for the birthplace such as
Leeds point or Estelville, could be the same place referred to in the
Burlington Legend.
The origins provide some validity to the existence of the Jersey Devil, but
the sightings are the most substantial pieces of evidence. The sightings
have been divided up into 3 time periods, pre 1909, January 16-23, 1909, and
post 1909.
From the pre 1909 era, few documented records of sightings still exist. The
ones that do confirm the existence of the devil.
In the early 19th century, Commodore Stephen Decatur, a naval hero, was
testing cannon balls on the firing range when he saw a strange creature
flying across the sky. He fired and hit the creature but it kept right on
flying across the field. Joseph Bonaparte, former king of Spain and brother
of Napoleon, saw the Kersey Devil in Bordentown, NJ, between 1816 and 1839
while he was hunting. In 1840-41 many sheep and chickens were killed by a
creature with a piercing scream and strange tracks. In 1859-94, the Jersey
Devil was seen and numerous times and reportedly carried off anything that
moved in Haddonfield, Bridgeton, Smithville, Long Branch, Brigantine, and
Leeds Point. W.F. Mayer of New York noticed while visiting the Pine Barrens,
most of the locals would not venture out after dark. The devil was sighted
by George Saarosy, A prominent business man, at the NJ/NY border. This was
the last reported sighting before the turn of the century.

In 1903, Charles Skinner, author of American Myths and Legends, claimed that
the legend of the devil had run it's course and that in the new century, NJ
would hear no more of the devil. New Jersey rested easy with that thought
for 6 years, until the week of January 16-23. 1909. During this week, the
devil would leave his tracks all over South Jersey and Philadelphia. He was
seen by over 1,00 people. This was his largest appearance ever. It all
started early Sunday morning, January 16, 1909. Thack Cozzens of Woodbury,
NJ, saw a flying creature with glowing eyes flying down the street. In
Bristol, NJ, John Mcowen heard and saw the strange creature on the banks of
the canal. Patrol James Sackville fired at the creature as it flew away
screaming. E.W. Minister, Postmaster of Bristol,NJ, also saw a bird-like
creature with a horses head that had a piercing scream. When daylight came,
the residents of Bristol found hoof prints in the snow. Two local trappers
said they had never seen tracks like those before.
On Monday, the Lowdens of Burlington, NJ, found hoof prints in their yard

and around their trash, which was half eaten. Almost every yard in
Burlington had these strange hoof prints in them. The prints went up trees,
went from roof to roof, disappeared in the middle of the road, and stopped
in the middle of open fields. The same tracks were also found in Columbus,
Hedding, Kinhora and Rancocas. A hunt was organized to follow the tracks but
the dogs wouldn't follow the trail.
On the 19th the Jersey Devil made his longest appearance of the week. At
2:30 am, Mr & Mrs. Nelson Evans of Gloucester were awakened by a strange
noise. They watched the devil from their window for 10 minutes. Mr. Evans
described the creature they saw:

It was about three feet and half high, with a head like a collie dog and

a face like a horse. It had a long neck, wings about two feet long, and

its back legs were like those of a crane, and it had horse's hooves.

It walked on its back legs and held up two short front legs with paws

on them. It didn't use the front legs at all while we were watching.

My wife and I were scared, I tell you, but I managed to open the

window and say, 'Shoo', and it turned around barked at me, and flew away.2

Tuesday afternoon 2 professional hunters tracked the devil for 20 miles in
Gloucester. The trail jumped 5 foot fences and went under 8 inch spaces. The
hoof prints were found in more parts of South Jersey. A group of observers
in Camden, NJ, saw the devil. It barked at them and then took off into the
The next day, a Burlington police officer and the Reverend John Pursell of
Pemberton saw the Jersey Devil. Rev. Pursell said, "Never saw anything like
it before".3 Posses in Haddonfield found tracks that ended abruptly. In
Collingswood, NJ, a posse watched the devil fly off toward Moorestown. Near
Moorestown, John Smith of Maple Shade saw the devil at the Mount Carmel
Cemetery. George Snyder saw the devil right after Mr. Smith and their
descriptions were identical. In Riverside, NJ, hoof prints were found on
roof tops and also around a dead puppy.
On Thursday, the Jersey Devil was seen by the Black Hawk Social Club. He was
also seen by a trolley full of people in Clementon as it circled above them.
The witnesses descriptions matched others from the days before. In Trenton,
Councilman E.P. Weeden heard the flapping of wings and then found hoof
prints outside his door. The prints were also found at the arsenal in
Trenton. As the day wore on the Trolleys in Trenton and New Brunswick had
armed drivers to ward off attacks. The people in Pitman filled churches.
Chickens had been missing all week throughout the Delaware Valley, but when
the farmers checked their yards that day, they found their chickens dead,
with no marks on them. The West Collingswood Fire Department fired their
hose at the devil. The devil retreated at first, but then charged and flew
away at the last second.

Later that night, Mrs. Sorbinski of Camden heard a commotion in her yard.
She opened the door to see the Jersey Devil standing there with her dog in
it's grip. She hit the devil with a broom until it let go of her dog and
flew away. She started screaming until her neighbors came over. Two police
officers arrived at her house where over 100 people had gathered. The crowd
heard a scream coming from Kaigan Hill. The mob ran toward the creature on
the hill. The Policed shot at it and the devil flew off into the night. The
streets of Camden were empty after this.
On Friday, Camden police officer Louis Strehr saw the Jersey Devil saw the
devil drinking from a horses trough. The school in Mt Ephraim was closed
because no students came in. Mills and factories in Gloucester and
Hainesport had to close because none of the employees came to work. Many New
Jersey residents wouldn't leave their houses, even in daylight. Officer
Merchant of Blackwood drew a sketch of the creature he saw. His sketch
coincided with the descriptions from earlier in the week. Jacob Henderson
saw the devil in Salem and described it as having "wings and a tail"4. The
devil was only seen once more in 1909 in February.
Since 1909, the Jersey Devil has continued to be sighted by people all over
New Jersey. The number of sightings that have been reported to the
authorities has dwindled over the years. This could be attributed to the
fact that people don't want to be branded as crazy. Even though the number
of reported sightings has dropped, there's still a considerable amount of
sightings in the post 1909 era.
IN 1927, a cab driver on his way to Salem got a flat tire. He stopped to fix
the tire. As he was doing this, creature that stood upright and was covered
with hair, landed on the roof of his cab. The creature shook his car
violently. He fled the scene, leaving the tire and jack behind. Phillip
Smith, who was known as a sober and honest man, saw the devil walking down
the street in 1953. The characteristic screams of the Jersey Devil were
heard in the woods near Woodstown, NJ, in 1936.

Around 1961, 2 couples were parked in a car in the Pine Barrens. They heard
a loud screeching noise outside. Suddenly the roof of the car was smashed
in. They fled the scene, but returned later. Again they heard the loud
screech. They saw a creature flying along the trees, taking out huge chinks
of bark as it went along.
There have been other sightings since 1909, such as the Invasion of
Gibbsboro in 1951. The people there saw the devil over a 2 day period. In
1966, a farm was raided and 31 dicks, 3 geese, 4 cats, and 2 dogs were
killed. One of the dogs was a large german Shepard which had it's throat
ripped out. In 1981, a young couple spotted the devil at Atsion Lake in
Atlantic County.
In 1987, in Vineland an aggressive german Shepard was found torn apart and
the body gnawed upon. the body was located 25 feet from the chain which had
been hooked to him. Around the body were strange tracks that no one could
The sightings and prints are the most substantial evidence that exists. Many
of the theories on the Jersey Devil are based upon that evidence. Some
theories can be proven invalid, while others seem to provide support for the
Jersey Devil's existence.
One theory is that the Jersey Devil is a bird. Mrs. Cassidy of Clayton
thought it was an invasion of scrowfoot dicks. The scrowfoot dick is much
too small to be mistaken for the devil. Others believe the devil is really a
sand hill crane. The crane used to live in South Jersey until it was pushed
out by man. The sand hill crane weighs about 12 lbs., is 4 foot high, and a
wingspan of 80 inches. It avoids man but if confronted it will fight. It has
a loud scream whooping voice that can be heard at a distance. This could
account for the screams heard by witnesses. The crane also eats potatoes and
corn. This could account for the raids on crops. This theory doesn't explain
, however, the killing of live stock. It also doesn't explain why people
described the devil as having a horses head, bat wings and tail, all of
which the crane doesn't have.

Proffesor Bralhopf said that" the tracks were made by smoe prehistoric
animal form the Jurassic period"5. He believes the creature survived
underground in a cavern. An expert from the Smithsonian Institute had a
theory about ancient creatures surviving underground. He said the Jersey
Devil was a Pterodactyl. The Academy of Natural Sciences could find no
record of any creature, living or extinct, that resembles the Jersey Devil.
Jack E. Boucher, author of Absagami Yesteryear, has a thoery in which he
believes the devil was a deformed child. He thinks Mrs. Leeds had a
disfigured child and kept it locked away in the house. She grew sick and
couldn't feed the child anymore. It escaped out of hunger and raided local
farms for food. This doesn't take into account the incredible life span of
the devil. The child would have been 174 years old in 1909. It also doesn't
account for the sightings of ther devil flying.
Only a small amount of the sightings and footprints could be hoaxes. The
Jersey Devil has been seen by reliable people such as police, government
officials, postmasters, businessman, and other people whose "integrity is
beyond question."6 As for the hoof prints, even if some were hoaxes, There
is still no way to explain most of the tracks, especially the ones on roof
tops and tracks that ended abruptly as if the creature took wing.

The last theory is the most controversial one. Many people believe that the
Jersey Devil could be the very essence of evil, embodied. It is said that
the devil is an "uncanny harbinger of war"7. and appears before any great
conflict. The jersey devil aws sighted before the start of the Civil War. It
was alos seen right before the Spanish American War and WW I. In 1939,
before the start of WW II, Mount Holly citizens were awakened by the noise
of hooves on their roof tops. The Devil was seen on December 7, 1941, right
before Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was also seen right before the vietnam

The Jersey Devil's habit of being a forerunner to wars could be because of
his possible demonic origins. In 1730, Ben Franklin reported a story about a
witchcraft trial near Mt Holly, NJ. One of the origin legends say that
Mother Leeds was a witch. The devil's birth could have been a result of a
witches curse.

Other facts support the supernatural theory are the reports of the death of
the devil. When Commodore Decatur fired a cannon ball at the devil, it went
through him and he was unaffected.
In 1909, a track walker on the electric railroad saw the devil fly into the
wires above the tracks. There was a violent expolsion which melted the track
20 feet in both directions. No body was found and the devil was seen later
in perfect health. In 1957, the Department of Conservation found a strange
corpse in a burned out area of the pines. It was a partial skeleton,
feathers, and hind legs of an unindentifiable creature. The devil was
thought to be dead, but reappeared when the people of New Jersey thought
that this time his death was real. Each time he is reported dead, he
returns. Sometimes this year. The Jersey Devil will be 260 years old. It
seems the devil is immortal, which a supernatural being would be. Another
thing taht supports this theory is the incredible distances the devil could
fly in a short period of time. No animal could travel as fast as the devil
did in 1909 when he was sighted in South Jersey, Philadelphia, and New York
through out the week.

None of these theories can give a definitive answer to what the Jersey Devil
was or is, but the sightings prove there is something out there. Whether the
Jersey devil is a bird or a demon, is still left ot specualtion. The people
of New Jersey have definely seen something out there lurking in the Pine

"Let them hate,so long as they fear!"

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