The Pine Barrens in the state of New Jersey have a story to tell, its a story many have heard and maybe even some are scared to speak of, it’s the story of the Jersey Devil.
Legend has it that this creature has been haunting the Jersey Pine Barrens for close to 300 years and striking fear into those who encounter it.
The lore of the Jersey Devil is well loved enough to have the state’s hockey team named after it and many famous people have encountered the strange beast, like Joseph Bonaparte, oldest brother of Napoleon, who was said to have witnessed the Jersey Devil while on a hunting trip and Commodore Stephen Decatur, who fired a cannon at it with no effect at all.
It’s said that one violent stormy night, a poor woman with 12 children was about to give birth to her 13th. She cursed the child in her belly while in labor, “I can bare no more children, let this one be the devil!” And she gave birth to a strange misshapen creature, that transformed before them spread its wings and flew up the chimney and into the darkness.
The is but one of the legends about the origins of the Jersey Devil, believed or not, the events that followed have been witnessed by thousands of people in the last 300 years…and the legend continues.
The most interesting events concerning the Jersey Devil took place in mid winter of 1909. Said to be the Devil’s most infamous spree, with thousands of sightings and newspaper headlines, causing schools to close and people to hide in their homes.
The events started with a man named Zack Cozzens, who heard a loud hissing sound and then saw a large winged animal with red eyes, fly across the street he was standing on. And the flood of sightings continued from there.
Reports started turning up all over and stirred people into a frenzy of fear that lasted a week. Hissing noises in the night, violent screams in the woods, police shooting at the creature and inflicting no wounds, hunting parties gathered to track it only to flee in fear. An attack on a cable car and patrons of a bar spending the night trapped inside terrorized by the demon. A rash of animal mutilations, missing children and cloven hoof prints in the snow.
These are but a few of the things that happened in the week that people say the Devil had his day.
The Jersey Devil was not heard from again until another flurry of sightings in 1951, that stared when a boy claimed to have seen a demonic face dripping with blood at his second floor bedroom window.
For years after that day there have been random reports of animal killings and bone chilling screams in the woods. The last well known account was from an ambulance driver in 1974. He was driving the lonely back roads of the Pine Barrens, when he heard an evil laughing shriek from the dark woods that almost made him drive off the road.
Many have gone off in search of the Jersey Devil over the years after learning of this interesting legend. Should you feel the urge to take up the hunt also searching for the truth, or just hoping to catch sight of the beast, a word of caution…don’t do it alone.