Haunted History: The Jersey Devil 101
Updated: Aug 8
The Pine Barrens are a densely wooded area stretching across 1.1 million acres in New Jersey. Though it sits between New York City and Philadelphia, it remains mostly undeveloped. There is no way to have a massive stretch of forest without some mischievous creature causing a little chaos. Enter the Jersey Devil, also known as the Leeds Devil.
The devil has been described as a flying and hooved creature, with large wings and perhaps the head of a goat, man or horse depending on the account.
Now, if we go all the way back to the source of this folklore we land on the doorstep of Mother Leeds. The legend says that poor Deborah Leeds found out she was pregnant with her 13th child and explained ‘this child will be the devil!’ It’s my personal opinion that this was not an over reaction, can you imagine having a 13th child on the way back in 1735 when there was probably not that much support available for large families and struggling mothers?
There are many theories about this origin story. One in particular points to the political and religious climate at the time. It is important to note that a member of the Leeds family, Daniel Leeds was running in a local political race against none other than Benjamin Franklin. Some speculate that Daniel Leeds was simply being referred to as ‘The Leeds Devil’ in the political race, which is what sparked this story. But hey, that’s kind of boring and not nearly paranormal enough for us.
There are many groups that hunt for the NJ Devil. You can find tons of videos documenting this. From my research, I haven’t seen any convincing photos or videos of this creature but the sheer belief these hunters have is certainly something.
This video shows the alleged house where the NJ devil was born. It’s fun to think about the local kids who sneak into the woods to stare at it from a distance. But I don’t think there is much actual evidence to link this house to the birth of the 13th Leeds child.
This weird local news version of TMZ reviews a ‘real photo’ that was taken of the devil. Just to clarify, this is 100% not real. But it’s fun to watch an entire video of people trying to debunk it. Here is a VERY fake and VERY silly NJ Devil ‘sighting’ video from NJ.com. Enjoy.
All in all, I am not closing the book on the tale. I choose to believe in this sort of thing because it makes life more interesting and mysterious and fun. However, I do not believe that any great evidence has been captured. I would love to be the first. Shall we venture into the Pine Barrens? Who’s with me? No one? Fine.
Whether you believe or not, stay spooky & stay safe.