Cryptid 016B, Jersey Devil
A.K.A. Leed's Devil
Location: New Jersey Pine Barrens, United States
Evidence: Countless sightings
Possible Population size: Most say one, but it is possible a entire species can exist. This may be a possible explaniation to the creature's longlivity.
My thoughts and theories:
Without a doubt, New Jerseys oldest, most enduring, and important pieces of folklore is the tale of the infamous Jersey Devil. For close to three hundred years now, Jerseyans have told tales of this mythical beast which stalks the Pine Barrens and terrorizes local residents. The recurring nature of this story begs a few of questions: Why have New Jerseyans embraced this legend so steadfastly, and above all others? Is there actually some sort of creature roaming the Pine Barrens of Southern NJ? And if so, what in Gods name is it?
There are many possible origins of the Jersey Devil legend. The earliest legends date back to Native American folklore. The Lenni Lenape tribes called the area around Pine Barrens "Popuessing," meaning "place of the dragon." Swedish explorers later named it "Drake Kill", "drake" being a Swedish word for dragon, and "kill" meaning channel or arm of the sea (river, stream, etc.).
The most popular version of the Jersey Devil legend begins in the 18th century when Deborah Smith from England immigrated to the Pine Barrens in southern New Jersey to marry a Mr. Leeds, who wanted several heirs to continue the family name. Consequently, the new wife was continually pregnant. After bearing twelve healthy children, she was dismayed to be pregnant with her thirteenth. She cursed the unborn child, declaring a preference to bear the Devil's child rather than another Leeds. Apparently, her wish was granted as the new child had cloven hooves, claws, and a tail. The horrific newborn proceeded to eat the other Leeds children and the parents, before escaping through the chimney to begin its reign of terror.
There are several variations of the Leeds tale, such as one claiming that when Leeds became pregnant with her thirteenth child, she remarked, "May it be a devil!" The belief that a deformed child was the work of Satan or a curse was still common during the 1800s.
Not surprisingly, the Jersey Devil legend is fueled by the various testimonials from reputable eyewitnesses who have reported to have encountered the creature, from precolonial times to the present day, as there are still reported sightings within the New Jersey area.
Many contemporary theorists believe that the Jersey Devil could possibly be a very rare, unclassified species which instinctually fears and attempts to avoid humans. Such elements that support this theory include the overall similarities of the creature's appearance (horselike head, long neck and tail, leathery wings, cloven hooves, blood-curdling scream), with the only variables being the height and color. Another factor that supports the cryptozoological theory is the fact that it is more likely that a species could endure over a span of several hundred years, rather than the existence of a single creature living for over 500 years.
Sightings of the creature still continue to this day, although fewer and further between. Prehaps the creature's long life has taken a toll, or prehaps the species is slowly going extinct. We will truly never know anything about this remarkable creature until it is caught or a body turns up.
This is the legend that was the catalyst of my obsession with the paranormal. I fell in love with the legend after a small personal experience took shape on night long, long ago. I believe I was about ten at the time. My sister was currently attending Kane University, a fairly average collage out in New Jersey. Every summer, my sister would invite my parents and I to spend a weekend or so with her (She had less classes during the summer). It wasnt close to the Pine Barrens, but it was close enough that my parents got the bright idea to stay in a small campground on the outskirts of the ol Pineys. Of course, one night I herd a sound that sounded similar to a shrill scream (It sort of sounded like the breaks of a train or a car breaking suddenly, but there were only dirt roads around and no train tracks nearby). It woke me up suddenly, and I know it wasnt just me, because my parents heard it too. The next morning, the campgrounds information desks shutters were open, and the inside was practically torn apart, There was a ice machine behind it that was knocked over, and best of all, hoof prints all around the outside. I overheard the owner and my parents talking, Sorry for the mess, that damn bastard through another tantrum again
said the owner, Who? asked my mom, The ol Leeds Devil
Take what you want from this, I didn't see the creature, so it's not only possible, but probable that it could have been a prank. Despite this, I do belive it exists, and above all else, I want to know more about it.
Cryptid Files: [link]