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What is the Jersey Devil?

By Lependorf & Silverstein on May 19, 2014

New Jersey MythMost Americans probably associate the Jersey Devil with The Garden State’s NHL hockey team, but this iconic New Jerseyan was actually born out of a centuries old legend set in the mysterious and haunted Pine Barrens forest. As with most folktales, there are numerous versions of the Jersey Devil’s origins, however, each share the common thread that this nightmarish creature is not to be trifled with.

According to legend, in 1735, a woman named Deborah Leeds was pregnant with her 13th child. Some say the child was already cursed by the unlucky number 13 or that its mother invoked the devil during an incredibly painful and difficult labor. But when the child was born, he appeared to be a healthy baby boy before quickly transforming into a grotesque beast with bat wings, a forked tale, cloven hooves, glowing red eyes, and two sharp horns on top of its horse-like head.

The monster grew larger and larger in a matter of seconds and then attacked and killed its own mother. It clawed and lashed at the midwives, its father, and siblings, killing as many as it could before flying up the chimney and out into the darkness of the Pine Barrens.

The Jersey Devil would go on to terrorize locals, kill livestock, and drive visitors out of the woods over the next three hundred years.

Even today, it’s not uncommon for locals and tourists alike to claim to have seen the terrifying creature flying overhead or have heard its blood-curdling cry in the night. Many believe the creature acts as an omen of disaster.

Have you had any Jersey Devil sightings? Let us know in the comments or visit our Facebook page to share your stories.

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