Thursday, April 14, 2016

New Jersey Haunted by Its Own Devil

It was described as resembling a kangaroo with the head of a goat, horns, leathery bat-like wings, small arms with clawed hands, cloven hooves and a forked tail. It would move quickly and announce its presence with a blood-curdling scream.

Legend has it that the New Jersey Devil first made its appearance in 1735, born of Mother Deborah Leeds as her 13th child. Mother Leeds was supposedly a witch and prophesied this child would be born as the Devil himself. Although born looking like a normal child, the entity quickly morphed into the aforementioned creature, killing the midwife before flying up the chimney and out into the woods. It would be seen circling in the air above many villages in what is now known as Atlantic, New Jersey. A clergyman exorcised the demon from the area in 1740 whereupon it was not seen for nearly 80 years.

A night photo claiming an image of 
the New Jersey Devil chasing after a deer.
In 1820, Joseph Bonaparte, elder brother of the French leader Napoleon, claimed to see the Jersey Devil while hunting on his Borden estate. Twenty years later, several livestock killings were blamed on the beast.

There have been several tales surrounding the Devil in the 20th century:
1909: Hundreds of claimed encounters with the Jersey Devil were posted in newspapers all over the state. These included the creature attacking a trolley car in Haddon Heights and a social club in Camden. Camden police fired at the creature without stopping it. Strange footprints in the snow and other sightings of the Devil were reported throughout the state, prompting several schools and businesses to close. The Philadelphia Zoo offered a $10,000 rewards for the creature's dung.

1925: A corpse matching the description of the beast was reported in Greenwich when a farmer shot the animal as it tried to steal his chickens. The creature defied formal identification.

1937: Downingtown, Pennsylvania residents reported seeing an unknown animal with red eyes that matched the description of the New Jersey Devil.

1951: A group of Gibbstown, New Jersey, boys claimed to have seen a monster matching the Devil's description.

1957: Another corpse was found with the features of the Leeds demon.

Despite the non-believers, it cannot be disputed that New Jersey Devils can indeed be found. They play for the National Hockey League, having adopted their name from the famous tales of the area's flying monster when they moved to Newark, New Jersey, in 1982.

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