Paranormal Creatures: Jersey Devil
For millennium, people across the globe have been interacting with forces that can’t be explained. Things science has yet to fully acknowledge. Creatures that are not just part of our present, but our past. You will never read their tales in an academic history book.
However, they have always been part of our cultures. This is what I call Paranormal History.
It was a dark and stormy night in 1735 when Mrs. Janet Leeds gave birth to her thirteenth child. Upon finding out she was pregnant she stated that this child would be the devil. Despite her curse, she gave birth to a healthy and normal looking baby boy.
Suddenly the innocent appearing child transformed into a beast with the head of a goat, wings of a bat, hooves for feet, and a forked tail. With a growl and a scream, it murdered the midwife that birthed it before flying out the chimney and into the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. This is a popular version of the legendary Jersey Devil, a creature that is said to have been stalking the state of New Jersey for the last two and a half centuries.
The next five years were a terrifying time for the residents of the Pine Barrens. People started noticing pets, livestock, and worse of all children were missing.
Extensive searches of the surrounding area only revealed the remains of the missing animals. The people were so fearful, they turned to a local clergyman for an exorcism to rid the area of the Devil. The pastor reportedly was successful in his attempt and the disappearances stopped. While this exorcism ensured that the residents were safe from harm it did not keep the cryptid from making two appearances during the next hundred years.
United States navel hero Commodore Stephen Decatur Jr. was said to have a run in with the Jersey Devil in 1800. During an inspection of Hanover Iron Works, the Commodore witnessed a terrifying creature flying over the cannon test range. Deciding it would be a perfect target, he took aim and fired a cannon ball directly through the beast. The Devil wasn’t the least bit phased by the apparent mortal wound and kept on flying, not to be seen again for sixteen years.
On a snowy day in 1816, former king of Spain and brother to Napoleon, Joseph Bonaparte reportedly had his own experience with the legendary cryptid. While hunting near his Bordentown, New Jersey home he discovered tracks, that to him appeared to be from a two legged donkey. He followed them for a few feet until they abruptly stopped, as if the animal had flown off. When he turned around to leave, he was confronted by a creature with a horse like head, bird like legs and a pair of bat wings. Man and beast stared each other down, until the Jersey Devil hissed and flew away. The next encounter with the elusive creature wouldn’t be as peaceful.
In 1840, it is said the Jersey Devil went on another carnivorous rampage. It began to eat livestock and take young children, just as it had a century earlier. The people of the area were so terrified that they refused to venture out at night and would barricade themselves in their own homes. The fear that the residents felt for the next seventy years was nothing compared to the sheer terror the surrounding area was about to experience.
For one week during 1909, the Jersey Devil was sighted by more people in a short period than any other time before and since. On January 16; Bristol, Pennsylvania police officer James Sackville was on foot patrol when the dogs of the neighborhood begin barking and growling at something that appeared to be behind him.
When he turned around he observed a winged creature hopping around in the empty street. The officer pulled his service revolver and moved toward the creature that he identified as the Jersey Devil. Before he could get within arms length, the cryptid took to the air. Officer Sackville fired several shots as the creature flew away, but was unable to wound it.
That very same night local postmaster, E.W. Minster also had an encounter with the creature. Here is his actual statement of what he saw:
” I awoke about two o’clock in the morning… and finding myself unable to sleep, I arose and wet my head with cold water as a cure for insomnia. As I got up I heard an eerie, almost supernatural sound from the direction of the river… I looked out upon the Delaware and saw flying diagonally across what appeared to be a large crane, but which was emitting a glow like a fire-fly. Its head resembled that of a ram, with curled horns, and its long thick neck was thrust forward in flight. It had long thin wings and short legs, the front legs shorter than the hind. Again, it uttered its mournful and awful call – a combination of a squawk and a whistle, the beginning very high and piercing and ending very low and hoarse.”
The next morning Minster and his neighbors discovered strange hoof prints in their yards.
Three days later in Gloucester City, New Jersey; Nelson Evans and his wife had their own Devil experience. At 2:30 a.m. they were awoken by strange noises emanating from outside their house. They went to their bedroom window and witnessed a creature standing on the roof of their shed for approximately ten minutes.
Mr. Evans reports the following:
” It was about three feet and a half high, with a head like a collie dog and a face like a horse. It had a long neck, wings about two feet long, and its back legs were like those of a crane, and it had horse’s hooves. it walked on its back legs and held up two short front legs with paws on them. It didn’t use the front legs at all while we were watching. My wife and I were scared, I tell you, but I managed to open the window and say, ‘Shoo!’ and it turned around, barked at me, and flew away .”
January 21, Haddon Heights, New Jersey trolley conductor Lewis Boeger was forced to stop his trolley when he and his passengers saw the Devil. He described the incident in the following words:
” In general appearance it resembled a kangaroo… It has a long neck and from what glimpse I got of its head its features are hideous. It has wings of a fairly good size and of course in the darkness looked black. Its legs are long and somewhat slender and were held in just such a position as a swan’s when it is flying. We all tried to get a look at its feet to see what shape they were but the darkness was too great. It looked to be about four feet hig .”
The same night Mary Sorbinski witnessed the Jersey Devil attack her family dog in her backyard. According to her, the creature had her pet in a vice like grip until she snacked it with her broom. The attack had left her beloved dog with a sizable piece of its flesh missing. While the police were recording a report of the incident they were alarmed by loud screeching from outside.
The officers proceeded to fire at the creature, only managing to scare it off. These plus many other sightings caused such a panic that factories, businesses, and local schools were shut down. Eventually the sightings ceased and life went back to normal, as usual the Jersey Devil didn’t stay away forever .
In April 1966 the farm of Steven Silkotch was devastated by an unseen creature in the middle of the night. When he awoke in the morning, he discovered a scene that would be a true nightmare for any farmer. He found the shredded remains of 31 ducks, 3 geese, 4 cats, and his 2 dogs spread across his property. The largest of the dogs, a ninety pound German Shepard, was dragged a quarter mile from where it was attacked. Mr. Sikotch is said to have found hoof prints at the scene of the attack .
In May 1990 a member of the United States military had an experience with the creature while on a training exercise at Fort Dix. He and his fellow soldiers set up camp outside of the fort and established a rotating watch per their training parameters. Here is the actual report he made to investigators:
” I was awoken around 1:45am that night by the previous guy. I shook off the sleepy feeling I had while I sat just outside the camp. While sitting on a log with my weapon by my side, I flickered my light into the woods,which seemed extremely dark that night to me. While doing this, I heard a loud crunching noise to my left deep in the woods. I listened, and I heard the noise again – this time much closer than before.
Standing up, I pointed my flashlight & strained my eyes to see what was making the noise. Just as I did this, something very big ran from my left to right side about twenty feet or so in front of me. I took a few steps towards the shape that had run by me.
With my M-16 in hand, I walked with flashlight in hand towards the dark shape in the woods. Suddenly, the shape lunged at me and ran by my right side along the perimeter of the campsite.
As I turned to get a better look, it stood up and had to be at least 6 ft tall. I was in shock and couldn’t believe the size of it. I saw blinking green eyes as it gazed at me from the far side of the campsite.”
When the other men began to wake up due to the noise, the elusive creature took off into the woods. This would not be the last time the soldier would run into the cryptid at the US fort.
They were traveling in a wedge formation when the creature landed seventy feet in front of them. Immediately the experienced soldiers spread out to get a better line of sight on what was in front of them. The creature let out with a startling scream that caused the point man to threw an explosive charge at it.
The charge scared the Devil further into the woods and the troops pursued. Unfortunately, they were unable to keep up and it easily got away. These men and the many others who have seen it do not question that the Jersey Devil is real.
While science has yet to find genetic evidence to prove its existence, what is certain is that many reputable people have and continue to see something that is out of what most consider the ordinary.
There is too much circumstantial evidence to deny that something, possibly dangerous, exists in New Jersey.
While I do believe there is a creature stalking the one million acres of the Pine Barrens, I do not believe the legend is its true origin. To me the legend was an attempt to explain the origin of a force the residents of the area did understand. I believe that it is just another unidentified animal that has become part of Paranormal History.
Have an legendary paranormal creature you want to read the interesting history of?
If so email me at d.dunaway85@gmail and you just might read about it here at News From The Spirit World.
Make sure to read my very special article in October about the history of witches including interviews from modern day followers!
David Dunaway is an independent paranormal researcher and historian of the unexplained based in central Illinois ten years of experience investigating ghosts and cryptids in the states of Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, and Alabama