Monday, August 18, 2008

Searching for the Jersey Devil

Hello. Connor here.

My father grew up in Freehold, New Jersey.

On camping trips in the Pine Barrens he would swap Jersey Devil stories with his friends.

He told me that in 1735 a woman named Deborah Leeds had her thirteenth child. She was so upset to be pregnant again that she cursed the child in the Devil's name. On a stormy night the child was born and was terribly deformed. It had hooves for feet, a dragon-like face, and bat-like wings sprouting from its little back. The midwife was so disgusted with what she saw that she hid it from its mother, swaddling the infant in a blanket and leaving it in its crib to die.

After attending to Mrs. Leeds, she went back to check on it a few hours later. When she removed the blanket the hideous creature sprang for her and sank its wolf-like teeth into her neck. The creature then bounded out the window leaving the poor woman to die.

Since that creepy night over two centuries ago the Jersey Devil has been sighted many times:

1817: Naval Commissioner Stephen Decatur was testing cannonballs for his navy ship at the Hanover Iron Works when the Jersey Devil flew overhead. He aimed his cannon at the creature and allegedly hit one of its wings. Much to his amazement the monster just kept flying as if nothing had happened.

1820: Joseph Bonaparte, Emperor Napolean's older brother, glimpsed the Jersey Devil during a hunting trip on his estate near Bordentown.

1840: An unusual screaming creature killed several cows in Ocean County, N.J.

1841: More livestock killings reported with strange tracks that abruptly ended suggesting a flying creature.

1859: A witness reported seeing the Jersey Devil in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

1873: Several people saw the craeture in the snowy fields of Bridgeton, N.J.

1887: When a man heard his child screaming he grabbed his gun and raced to the back porch of his home. There he saw a "devil-like creature" attacking the family dog. He was able to shoot at the creature once before it flew away and he testified that he was certain that he had shot it in the right wing.

1909: Thousands of people report seeing the Jersey Devil during the week January 16 - 23. Newspapers from around the world report on the disconcerting phenomenon. On January 21st the creature actually attacked a trolley car filled with people in Haddonfield Heights. The Philadelphia Zoo posted a one million dollar reward for the capture of this menace.

1951: Several boys in Gibbstown heard a series of unearthy screams coming from the woods near their homes. When they investigate they encounter an eight foot monster with large bat-like wings.

1957: A rotting corpse of an animal that resembled discriptions of the Jersey Devil was found in the Pine Barrens.

1960: Another reward for ten thousand dollars for the live capture of the Jersey Devil was offered by a group of Camden businessmen.

1991: While delivering a pizza in Edison, N.J., a young man saw the Jersey Devil and reported it to the police.

2007: A woman in my father's hometown, Freehold, called the police to report the sighting of a large monster with bat-like wings. In the same year a man described an enormous "gargoyle-like creature with partially spread bat wings" perched in a tree next to the road.

The most recent sighting was on January 23, 2008. A resident of Litchfield, Pennsylvania was startled by a creature that came barreling out of the roof of his barn.

I have hunted the Jersey Devil seven times with my father. Once we found unusual tracks near the haunting little village of Double Trouble, N.J. but to date we have not found this elusive mythical monster.

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