Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jersey Devil




You know a Wikipedia article is awesome when it is prefaced with: 



The Jersey Devil, sometimes called the Leeds Devil, is a legendary creature or cryptid said to inhabit the Pine Barrens in southern New Jersey. The creature is often described as a flying biped with hooves, but there are many variations. The Jersey Devil has worked its way into the pop culture of the area, even lending its name to a National Hockey League team.

"There are many possible origins of the Jersey Devil legend. The earliest legends date back to Native American folklore. The Lenni Lenape tribes called the area around Pine Barrens "Popuessing," meaning "place of the dragon." Swedish explorers later named it "Drake Kill", "drake" being a Swedish word for dragon, and "kill" meaning channel or arm of the sea (river, stream, etc.).

The most accepted origin of the story as far as New Jersians are concerned started with Mother Leeds and is as follows:

"It was said that Mother Leeds had 12 children and after given birth to her 12th child, she said if she had another, it would be the devil. In 1735, Mother Leeds was in labor on a stormy night. Gathered around her were her friends. Mother Leeds was supposedly a witch and the child's father was the devil himself. The child was born normal, but then changed form. It changed from a normal baby to a creature with hooves, a horses head, bat wings and a forked tail. It growled and screamed, then killed the midwife before flying up the chimney. It circled the villages and headed toward the pines. In 1740 a clergy exorcised the devil for 100 years and it wasn't seen again until 1890."

"Mother Leeds" has been identified by some as Deborah Leeds, who was the wife of Japhet Leeds. This identification may have gained credence from the fact that Japhet Leeds named twelve children in the will he wrote in 1736,[1] which is compatible with the legend of the Jersey Devil being the thirteenth child born by Mother Leeds.


Outdoorsman and author Tom Brown Jr spent several seasons living in the wilderness of the Pine Barrens. He recounts occasions when terrified hikers mistook him for the Jersey Devil, after he covered his whole body with mud to repel mosquitoes."


Read the whole article here.

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