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April 11, 2013

Blogging From A to Z April Challenge Day Ten: J is for Jersey Devil


The Jersey Devil is perhaps one of the best-known cryptids in the United States. The creature draws in quite a few tourists to New Jersey's Pine Barrens as people who are curious about the legend attempt to sneak a peek of it. In fact New Jersey's hockey team, the New Jersey Devils, is even named after the Jersey Devil. But what makes this cryptid so fascinating?

To start off, the creature has been spotted by so many people, some of whom were famous for their time. Witnesses include Napoleon Bonaparte's older brother Joseph, Commodore Stephen Decatur and hundreds of people throughout the 1800s and into the Twentieth Century.

The legend of the creature's origin is interesting, to say the least. The story goes that Mother Leeds was expecting her 13th child, and 13 being an unlucky number in her mind said that her last child would be a little devil. It was rumored that Mother Leeds was a witch and had slept with the devil, which is why when the baby was born it looked nothing like a human. Before anyone could catch it, the baby killed the midwife that delivered it and then flew out of the house through the chimney. Talk about gratitude...

Other people claim the Jersey Devil has been around since well before Mother Leed's time. Apparently Native American stories tell of an ancient creature that roams the Pine Barrens, calling the place "Popuessing" or "the place of the dragon." Swedish settlers called the creature a river dragon. 

Exactly what the creature looks like depends on who claims to have seen it. it has bat-like wings, cloven hoofs, a goat-like head and a forked tail. Some witnesses claim it has glowing red eyes. Most people have seen it flying through the sky, including Commodore Decatur's men, who fired upon it with their artillery but missed. The Jersey Devil has even been seen flying over Philadelphia and other large cities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

What is the Jersey Devil? That's the question everyone wants to answer. Some people claim it is just a legen that has caused people's imagination to run away with them. Other people claim it is people misidentifying a Sandhill Crane, which are common in the area. Other people think it might be a creature that is leftover from the age of the dinosaurs. And then there are those who think it is supernatural, perhaps even a real demon or some other vile creature, which explains why remains have never been found.

12 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I remember the X-Files even had an episode where they pursued the Jersey Devil.

Steven said...

Alex, ah yes, Season 1. I remember when it first aired...

Lexie C. said...

I LOVED X-Files, but I don't remember that episode. I haven't heard much about this creature so this was really interesting!

Valerie said...

I'm from Jersey... I've always wanted to camp out in the Pine Barrens to try to get a glimpse of the Jersey Devil!

Hugs!

Valerie Nunez and the Flying Platypi

Steven said...

Lexie, like I said, the episode was from the first season so that might be why. Glad I educated you on something new!

Valerie, I think camping in the Pine Barrens would be fun just because it seems so remote. I grew up camping in ultra-remote areas of New Mexico and Colorado. To me it's not camping if there is a toilet or outhouse.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Makes you wonder what creature really inspired the legend. A giant bat?

VR Barkowski said...

Fascinating. Thought I'd seen all the X-Files, but I don't remember the Jersey Devil episode. He's sort of like a Northeastern flying Sasquatch. And the legend lives on.

~VR Barkowski

Steven said...

Diane, there are quite a few theories about various sightings. And yes, a bat has been proposed more than once.

VR, I am like an X-Files oracle :)

Julia King said...

Interesting creature. The picture you posted is sort of cute, especially the head and the short stubby arms and hands. The bat wings, though give it a creepy air.

Steven said...

Julia, I don't think I've ever heard or read anyone call the Jersey Devil cute on any level. Maybe someone should make some stuffed animal versions of the creature? That would make for an interesting toy to give to kids...

Heidi Mannan said...

Hmmm, very interesting.

Sandra Tyler said...

Would love to use this J in the A-Z special edition of the Woven Tale Press. (http://woventalepress.com)

please email me at sandratyler@me.com referencing this url.

Thank you,
Sandra