The New Jersey Devil is a legendary creature that is believed by many to inhabit the southern parts of New Jersey. Stories of the Jersey Devil date back nearly 300 years. The oldest of which appear in old legends from the native american tribes within the area. The Lenni Lenape tribes called Pine Barrens area of southern New Jersey “Popuessing,” which means “place of the dragon”.
The descriptions of the famous NJ devil have all been generally the same, describing the New Jersey Devil as a hooved creature that stands around 3-4 feet high. It has also been described as having a long neck, piercing red eyes and is often described as having leathery wings and a tail. Many people have compared the jersey devil to a sometimes similarly described creature known as Chupacabra. Whatever the Jersey devil may look like, the most popular story of it’s origins remains that of Mother Leeds.
The Leeds Devil
The story of the New Jersey Devil begins long ago with a woman known as Mother Leeds, who was believed to be a witch. Leeds had given birth to 12 children in her life and had proclaimed that if she were to give birth to another, it would be the devil himself.
One night in 1735, the unthinkable happened and Leeds went into labor. It is said that friends were gathered around for the birth,
but were unprepared for what would happen. The 13th child was born and the women were horrified at what they saw. It is said that the creature before them had wings, a tail and hooves. Legend states that the creature killed the midwife and let out a deafening shriek before flying up the chimney and out above the village, headed towards Pine Barrens. Deborah Leeds is believed by some to be the actual Mother Leeds. She was the wife of Japhet Leeds and had given birth to 13 children, but her husband Japhet only named 12 in his will from 1736.
Many believe that the New Jersey Devil is nothing more than a creative fairy tale, but with so many eyewitness accounts of the creature, there are some cryptozoologists who firmly believe that the NJ Devil is simply a creature yet to be documented by science and has mastered the art of avoiding human interaction. Either way, the New Jersey Devil will most definitely remain a story passed down through generations for years to come.