Strange creature on the borderline between fact and legend,
reported in southern New Jersey for more than two centuries.
The Jersey devil is said to have a kangaroo body, bats wings,
pigs feet, dogs head, the face of a horse, and a forked tail. Depending
on the storyteller the creature is said to be anywhere
from 18 inches to 20 feet in height and is considered impervious
to gunshot. It appears to have been born, at least as a legend,
after the off-the-cuff remark of a woman unhappy over her
pregnancy. Her curse on her child resulted in her child being
devil-like. The Jersey devil appeared over the years, possibly as
a running joke by bored newspaper reporters.
However, it might have remained unknown were it not for
the accounts of its having terrorized inhabitants of the Delaware
Valley in 1909, when people stayed home even in daylight
and factories and theaters closed. When all the reports were assembled,
though, descriptions of the creature varied widely. At
least one person later confessed to participating in the 1909
events by creating footprints of the supposed devil. In another
famous scare in 1951 the Jersey devil was said to have attacked
and mutilated poultry, cats, and dogs. Some have written the
Jersey devil off as a mere hoax. Others have seen it as a folk legend
lost in endless variations.
Bord, Janet, and Collin Bord. Alien Animals. Harrisburg,
Penn. Stackpole Books, 1981.
Clark, Jerome. Encyclopedia of Strange and Unexplained Phenomena.
Detroit Gale Research, 1993.
McCloy, J. F., and Ray Miller, Jr. The Jersey Devil. Newark,
Del. Middle Atlantic Press, 1976.
Stein, Gordon. Encyclopedia of Hoaxes. Detroit Gale Research,