Some legends are ridiculous enough to be laughed upon. The absurdity of the origin of the folklore isn’t lost upon the sane minds. One such legend is the Jersey Devil also known as Leeds devil from Philadelphian folklore. It is said to be a resident of the Pine Barrens, New Jersey the town where it was allegedly born.
Legend has it that the Jersey Devil was born to Mrs. Leed’s, wife of a drunkard. During 1735, when she got pregnant with her thirteenth child, out of misery and frustration she cursed the child to be born as a devil. On a dark tempestuous night born as a usual baby, within minutes it grew bat wings and a forked tail. It reshaped to a creature with a horse head and hooves. In a fit of anger, it lashed its tail around to beat up everyone present and flew out of the chimney into the Pine Barrens. In some records of the folklore, Mother Devil is given the status of a witch who had married the demon itself. The tales also speak of an incident where a town clergyman carried out an exorcism to lure out the creature from the town.
The first reported sighting of the Leeds devil occurred in 1812 by Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon Bonaparte’s older brother. He claimed to have seen Jersey Devil on a hunting trip close to his town estate. After that, the sightings increased in number and dubious footprints and animal attacks were reported which resulted in the mass popularity of the legend.
It is described as a hoofed biped and also a wyern-like creature that has bat-like wings and a horse-like head. It has small arms with clawed hands and hoofs.
In the town of New Jersey, a man named Edward Leeds claims to hold kinship with the Jersey Devil. Upon an interview, he announced himself as the thirteenth line descendant of Mother Leeds. He even showed the house of Mother Leed to the interviewers where the Jersey Devil was born. Almost three hundred years have passed and more than 1000 people have claimed to see the Jersey Devil lurking in and around the Pine Barrens.
Even though previously a symbol of fright and fear amongst the locals the Jersey Devil has now found its way into the local community as a treasured legend. It now serves as a roadside tourist point and also a hockey team mascot.