Most people that talk about the legend of the Jersey Devil traces back to Deborah Smith who was from England in the 1700s that married Mr. Leeds. The Leeds family lived in the area of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Mrs. Leeds had given birth to 12 children and was about to give birth to her 13th. The story goes that Mrs. Leeds said something about the devil during a difficult and painful labor and that when the baby was born, very soon afterwards, grew into a full-grown devil and escaped from the house.
There are so many versions of this myth / folk tale. One version is that the child was the result of a family curse. Another version is that Mrs. Leeds, who was a Quaker, had refused to be converted from the Quaker faith and that the clergyman who had been trying to convert her was so mad that he told her that her next child would be an offspring of Satan.
People in the 1700s still believed in witchcraft and many people of the period felt a deformed child were children of the devil or that the deformity was a sign that the child had been cursed by God. It may be that indeed Mrs. Leeds gave birth to a child with a birth defect and given the superstitions of the period, the legend of the Jersey Devil was born.
In the past 275, there have been over 2,000 sightings and the hearing of sounds in the forests which have been thought to be the Jersey Devil, but any "weird" things that happen in the southern parts of Jersey are thought to the Jersey Devil.
Even though this is a myth there are plenty of cool facts about it. Over the years the Jersey Devil has been called by a number of names, "Hoodle-Doodle Bird", "Wozzle Bug" and the "Leeds Devil”. Many organizations have offered a reward for the capture of the “Jersey Devil”. The Philadelphia Zoo offered $10,000 and the Hunt Brothers Circus offered $100,000.
The Jersey Devil my not be the easiest tale to believe, but it is one of this most interesting and fun to learn about. Behind all these myths and folk tales is a true story, facts, something to learn. That’s why I think folk tales are so fun, there is a true story to all of them.
Unknown Photographer “The Jersey Devil” Photograph. The X-Files. 5/13/1998. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.
"Jersey Devil Facts." Nat Geo WILD. 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.
"THE JERSEY DEVIL." Theshadowlands.net The Jersey Devil. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.