Cursed Creature of The Pine Barrens -- The Jersey Devil

Cursed Creature of The Pine Barrens -- The Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil has some scary and comical features. Described as a creature with a goat/horse head, walking on two legs with cloven hooves, a forked tail and leathery bat wings. A face only a mother could love! It dates back to colonial times in the 1680-1700’s when it was known as The Leeds Devil. There are two possibilities leading to the origin story.

The folklore talks about “Mother Leeds” (which was most likely referring to Daniel Leeds). “Mother Leeds” was said to have had 12 children and when she became pregnant again with her 13th child, she was cursed because 13 is the devils number. When the child was born it morphed into the “The Leeds Devil” and hissed and slithered off into the woods. 

Daniel Leeds was a real person in the area in the 17th century and was accused of paganism for his interest in astrology, occultism, symbolism, natural magic, demonology and cosmology. He utilized these interests to write almanacs in direct competition with Ben Franklin (yes, THAT Ben Franklin) He had a boatload of kids but was not a very popular man due to his unpopular opinions (of supporting the monarchy) and being ostracized from the Quaker community. Ben Franklin joked about Daniel’s son Titan being a “ghost” because he mockingly predicted Titan’s death in his own almanac. The Leeds almanac also included their family crest with a wyvern on it.

This explanation didn’t stop the sightings however. From the late 1700’s to now there have been continued sightings of the Jersey Devil. It’s such a popular mythical creature that New Jersey even named their hockey team after them! 

Next time you’re out in Jersey, see if you can catch a glimpse of this elusive creature for us.

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