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The Jersey Devil

Updated on March 5, 2017

The Legend of the Jersey Devil

Deep in the Pine Barrens of South Jersey lives a creature that has brought fear and mystery to the region since the 1700s.  This creature is known simply as the Jersey Devil.

It is described in most accounts as having a horse's head, a long tail, bat-like wings and long hind legs with cloven hooves. Some people have also claimed to witness it breathing fire.  Nearly all reported encounters with the Jersey Devil mention its bloodcurdling scream.

Origins of the Jersey Devil

There are many versions of how and where the Jersey Devil was born.

The most predominant and widely accepted involve a Mrs. Leeds (aka Mother Leeds) who was pregnant with her 13th child around 1735. Depending on which version of the tale you follow, Mother Leeds either cursed the child before it was born because she didn't want another; or she cursed it after birth because it was deformed.

It's not clear what happened next. One variation is that the creature escaped right away (after possibly eating some of its siblings). Another is that Mother Leeds locked it in the cellar for a time before it eventually escaped into the wild.

Other versions of the story claim it was a Mrs. Shrouds who gave birth to the child or that Mother Leeds was possibly involved in witchcraft.

Things Named After The Jersey Devil

In addition to various local bars, drinks, shops, sandwiches and organizations, the Jersey Devil has lent his name to some nationally known things.

Recommended Reading - Books about the Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil
The Jersey Devil

The authoritative and best selling guide to the Jersey Devil. I first read this book as a teen and recently read it again with one of my kids. It's a quick and informative read covering the numerous reported sightings and theories surrounding the Jersey Devil. My copy is from the original printing with the red cover which is a little more sinister looking than the current edition.


The Jersey Devil's Birthplace

A markerLeeds Point - birthplace of the Jersey Devil -
leeds point, nj
get directions

Jersey Devil Based Fiction

Several authors and movie producers have incorporated the Jersey Devil and other Pine Barrens folklore into their fictional works. I've even seen an episode of the Jonny Quest cartoon series that included the Jersey Devil in the plot.

More About The Pine Barrens

The Pine Barrens is a vast track of woodlands covering large parts of southern and central New Jersey. The area is rich in history and environmental diversity. It's also home to the "Pineys", a proud and independent group of people who have inhabited the Pines for generations.

Unlike Vegas, what happens in the Pines doesn't always stay in the Pines. The Jersey Devil has also been sighted in the Philadelphia area.

Sources & Bibliography

Much of the above information on the Jersey Devil legend and the area is from my own personal experience growing up in South Jersey. I also used the references below to research variations of the legend, dates and information on specific sightings.


What do you think of the Jersey Devil? Have you or someone you know had a run in with J.D.?

Do you believe?

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    • FreakyV profile image

      FreakyV 5 years ago from Canada

      I don't really believe in the Jersey Devil but I sure do find it fascinating, thanks for sharing.

    • Zodiacimmortal profile image

      Kim 6 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      I haven't been able to go on a hunt for the Jersey Devil but I did add this to the featured Lens on my Hockey Haven page. Go NJD

    • mountainstevo profile image

      mountainstevo 6 years ago

      This lense is making scared to go visit my aunt in Jersey. I'll have to ask her if she has seen it :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Ha! I live in South Jersey and love to tell the scary story to my nieces, nephews and foster kids who've never heard about it. It's a great story. Just a few days ago my husband was walking the dog in the woods after dark and he came back with a tale about a huge winged creature - he said it was too big to be an owl - he couldn't make it out. He and the dog were spooked so I said it must have been the Jersey Devil - what else could it be ! LOL ! Nice lens !

    • Twmarsh profile image

      Twmarsh 9 years ago

      The Jersey Devil is a great topic for a lens. Five stars, well done!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Hey I like your lens on the JD! YES He is real! Check out my story and print of him on my web site. You can add the link to your lens if you want!

      Take care and remember don't venture out into the pines alone at night!