The Jersey Devil is a legend with nearly three centuries of dark and tangled history.
While dates vary by account, legend holds that the Jersey Devil (see depictions one
) burst onto the scene during a tremendous thunderstorm that passed over the Pine Barrens and across Burlington, New Jersey in 1735.
An accursed creature, the actual genesis of the Jersey Devil is disputed and surrounded by a cacophony of echoes that obscures truth from myth. In fact, according to The Jersey Devil
by James F. McCloy and Ray Miller, Jr., that very elusiveness is all but spelled out in the history.
They write: “For two hundred and forty years, countless stories of [the Jersey Devil] have circulated throughout south Jersey, passed on from one generation to the next. The details vary, since each time a story is told it is subject to being enriched by the teller. But constant through the changing fortunes of the residents of the Pine Barrens is the legend of a creature which has regularly terrorized communities in south Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, and then returned to its lair somewhere in the Pine Barrens.”
McCloy and Miller go one step further by providing one of the most popular versions of the story to date. Legend holds, you see, that Mrs. Leeds—an overburdened mother of 12—reportedly cursed her thirteenth born while it was still in the womb. Way to go, mom!
Yelling out, “I’m tired of children! Let it be a devil!” the story holds that the unborn child emerged from the womb a far cry from the 12 before it; not only deformed in spirit, but more than eager to grant its mother’s putrid wish. The ‘Anatomy’
Regardless of when and how it arrived, the creature has been the subject of thousands of sightings over the years and has even attracted the attention of paranormal investigators.
For instance, one infrared image reportedly captured by investigators on the A&E program, Paranormal State, actually shows a raw outline (see AboveTopSecret.com
) which echoes popular conceptions of the legendary shape of the creature. While the accuracy of this evidence is still up for debate (could it be a deer, or maybe two standing end to end?), you can imagine the excitement of the paranormal team when such a strange shape popped up on their cameras.
Often described as having a horse-like face, long neck, large wings, hooves and a long tail, the Jersey Devil is the stuff of nightmares. Given its proclivity for elusiveness, constructing a Jersey Devil costume thus becomes a journey of the imagination. After all, no one knows for certain what a Jersey Devil really looks like (or if it even exists for that matter), so your imagination is really your playground.
Once upon this journey, putting in your own twists and details is more than just an option – it’s highly advised for maximum dramatic effect!