Next to Bigfoot, there aren’t many cryptid legends with the staying power of the New Jersey Devil. Famous for its connection to various people of some historical provenance, the Jersey Devil is one of the world’s oddest tales.
Said to be a mix between a horse and a bat, the Jersey Devil is among the weirder cryptids in the field. The origins of the legend point to witchcraft and devil worship, attributing the birth of the creature to “Mother Leeds” in the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey. Mrs. Leeds is said to have been a promiscuous woman of the night and upon the birth of her 13th child, she is said to have uttered the curse: “let it be the devil”. The story differs from telling to telling, sometimes claiming that the newborn infant transformed in front of the vile Mrs. Leeds, into a winged beast with the hooves of a cow and the head of a horse, whereupon it flew out the window screeching into the night. Other tellings purport that Mother Leeds abandoned the child, who thereafter grew fur and contorted into the form known as the New Jersey Devil.
Perhaps it’s most famous adherent is none other than Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, Joseph. He claimed to have seen a bizarre looking creature while hunting on his estate in Bordentown New Jersey and the sightings have been pouring in ever since.
The Jersey Devil has been blamed for any number of atrocities, from livestock deaths and mutilations, to strange tracks and sounds in the night. While the devil has been reported many times, no one has ever managed to snap a photograph, which does raise a flag or two in the sceptical mind. Regardless of the nefarious nature of the beast, locals have taken to the story like moths to a flame; they even named their National League Hockey Team the Devils.
Does the New Jersey Devil exist? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but one thing is for sure, its reputation will be here for a long time coming.