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The New Jersey Devil - Fact or Fable?

Updated on October 12, 2010

The Jersey Devil

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The Jersey Devil

I grew up in the New Jersey Pine Barrens of Waretown, NJ, where as a child you could not escape the legend of the Jersey Devil. Even those who haven’t grown up in Jersey have heard the legend of the Jersey Devil.

As children, my mother would tell us of the legend of The New Jersey Devil, and warn us that he would come and get us if we were disobedient to our parents. Needless to say, we were mesmerized by the sheer terror of this creature. This tale has been handed down from generation to generation, from parent to child for over 250 years in New Jersey. My Girl Scout leader would tell us of this long time fable around the campfire, in the black of night, while we were camping in the Pine Barrens or by the cranberry bogs. The surroundings only seamed to amplify the gory and gruesome tail of an unwanted boy, born of a mother who rejected him. We could almost feel the clammy monstrous claws touching our young pristine skin. It ran chills down our spines.

The tail told to us was as follows: Deborah Smith, who was a Quaker, came to America to marry Japhet Leeds. She bore him 12 children, in 1735, while pregnant with his 13th child; she cursed God for giving her so many children. In response, God cursed her little son, and when he was born, he was red, deformed and flew up the chimney of their house in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.

He was an awesome eerie sight. He had a Pointed Devils tail, horses Hooves for feet, claws for hands, Wings of a Bat, and the face of the Devil himself. Most of the people from the Pine Barrens can swear of his very existence and liken him to the Big Foot Legend. However, I know as a child I was scared to death of the Jersey Devil. You would have never caught any children wandering off in the Pine Barrens Woods alone. No Way, even today, I will not go off alone in the Jersey Devil’s Pine Barrens Woods.

The Jersey Devil on The History Channel

Legend of the Jersey Devil - Fact Or Fable?

However, as adults we know that every legend is based upon some element of fact, and I personally researched and purchased the “New Jersey Devil Official Handbook of the Pine Barrens”. The official tale goes something like this: Deborah Smith did come to America to marry Japhet Leeds, and she did bear him 12 children. However, during her 13th pregnancy she bore a physically deformed child. However, some speculate that the child was born human and transformed into a demon. Furthermore, Deborah Smith was a Quaker and the Puritans accused all Quakers of being witches. They were persecuted, judged at the inquisition, always found guilty, and hung to their deaths.

For over 250 years many unexplained and strange things occurred in the Pine Barrens since the birth of the Jersey Devil. In 1735, there were animal mutilations and strange foot prints accompanied by unrecognizable sounds. They even tried to have a priest perform an exorcism in the 1740 that was to banish the Jersey Devil for 100 years. However, after the 100 years was up, in 1840, the Jersey Devil reappeared in the Pine Barrens. There have been many sightings of the Jersey Devil since then. In the 1970’s some young boys heard something and saw a red eyed creature looking back at them. Therefore, it is still hard to determine what exactly was seen. To date, there is no real evidence that can either dispel or reject the existence of the Jersey Devil. It still remains one of New Jersey’s mysteries. So, if you go into the Jersey Devil’s Pine Barrens Woods, and see a red eyed creature staring back at you, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! It‘s the JERSEY DEVIL!

A Final Word

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Article(C)2009 - 2010 cluense, all rights reserved. Cluense creates articles and posts online. She creates articles on, accounting, entrepreneur, political issues, small business, society, relationships, taxes, work from home businesses, and Tutorials. She also has a strong passion for writing.


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      Trigger.Happy.Zombie(= 6 years ago

      Great hub! I've heard about the Jersey Devil but never really knew what it was until now. There's a legend in Sevier County, Tennessee, not far from my hometown, just like it.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I've seen and read a lot about this. Good hub!

    • cluense profile image

      Katie Luense 7 years ago from Cartersville, GA

      I'll do better then check out your Hub. I will link it to mine! Thanks for the comments and becoming my Fan. I just became your fan as well!

    • efeyas profile image

      efeyas 7 years ago from Some Sunny Beach, USA

      Interesting! I myself was and still do reside in southern New Jersey and am very familiar with the legends. You might also want to check out my hub about the Pine Barrens' Devils Puddle, Legend of the Blue Hole.