New Jersey is one of the oldest states in the United States. The state went from being founded in 1787 with a population of a few hundred thousand to a population of around nine million in the 21st century. Because of such a large population and hundreds of years of history, it isn’t surprising that the state is home to unknown activity. The legend of the New Jersey Devil was born in the 1700s.
The New Jersey Devil is a cryptid that is often spotted in the New Jersey Pinelands area. The New Jersey Devil was reported to cause destruction in dozens of towns. This cryptid killed livestock, crops, and animals that roam the woods in southern New Jersey. Even after the destruction that the cryptid caused, it was never captured. Eventually a bounty of a hundred thousand dollars was placed on the head of the New Jersey Devil, and many attempted to capture it. None of them succeeded, so the existence of this cryptid has yet to be confirmed.
The New Jersey Devil is often described as flying with large wings that resemble the wings of a bat. The cryptid is reported to walk with two legs that look like a kangaroo’s leg. It has a head like a horse, and horns that are similar to a goat. The New Jersey Devil has a pointy tail. The tail is described as being the tail of a demon.
Many of the people that reported encountering the New Jersey Devil had nothing to gain by lying about the situation. Police officers, farmers, business owners, and even politicians claimed to have spotted the cryptid. Ever since the first sighting of this creature, the reported encounters haven’t slowed down. Some critics say that if it was real, then it would have been captured by now. That is not necessarily true because animals that are small in population are difficult to find. There were new animals that were discovered in the previous decade which means it is not impossible for new animals to be discovered. Other than the bounty, the government invested little into finding the New Jersey Devil.
Origin of the New Jersey Devil
According to legend, there was a woman named Mrs. Leeds that lived in Estellville. She gave birth to 12 children. Soon she would discover that she had a 13th child on the way. She was furious when she discovered the news. Mrs. Leeds cursed her baby by chanting, “Let it be the devil!” When she gave birth, the baby came out looking like a youthful version of what would become known as the New Jersey Devil. The baby creature spread its wings before flying into the swamp, never to be seen by her again.
Did the New Jersey Devil exist?
First, we should see if Mrs. Leeds, the alleged mother of the New Jersey Devil, existed. Since Mrs. Leeds lived during the 18th century, it is difficult to find her public records. Jane Miller Glenn is a direct descendent of Mrs. Leeds. Even at 75 she remembers her mother dressing her up as a devil for Halloween as a family tradition referencing her ancestor Mrs. Leeds. Glenn still has the picture of her wearing her devil costume hanging on the wall. The family is known for being related to the New Jersey Devil in their hometown, and the legend doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
Even though public records are difficult to find on various members of her family, it is proven that her family lived in the United States for centuries. The Leedses left Europe to emigrate to North America in the mid-17th century. Eventually the family would own 1000 acres of land. The great grandfather of Glenn was the first mayor of Atlantic city. According to the public records that we have, there isn’t anything that disproves the legend of Mrs. Leeds giving birth to the New Jersey Devil.
The legend of the New Jersey Devil continues to spread around not only New Jersey, but throughout the United States. There have been reports of people encountering the cryptid in the 2010s. Do you think that the New Jersey Devil is real? If so, what do you think its origin is? Have you seen the New Jersey Devil?
Writer, C. O. L. T. S. H. A. W. S. (2019, November 1). The Devil You Know: How Leeds descendants see their Jersey Devil relative. Press of Atlantic City. https://pressofatlanticcity.com/news/local/the-devil-you-know-how-leeds-descendants-see-their-jersey-devil-relative/article_d129aa12-cf96-53aa-8ba7-d76c970fabbc.html.
Phantom of the Pines: More Tales of the Jersey Devil by James F. McCloy and Ray Miller, Middle Atlantic Press, ISBN 0912608951