Jersey Devil

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Jersey Devil

Strange creature on the borderline between fact and legend, reported in southern New Jersey for more than two centuries. The Jersey devil is said to have a kangaroo body, bat's wings, pig's feet, dog's head, the face of a horse, and a forked tail. Depending on the storyteller the creature is said to be anywhere from 18 inches to 20 feet in height and is considered impervious to gunshot. It appears to have been born, at least as a legend, after the off-the-cuff remark of a woman unhappy over her pregnancy. Her curse on her child resulted in her child being devil-like. The Jersey devil appeared over the years, possibly as a running joke by bored newspaper reporters.

However, it might have remained unknown were it not for the accounts of its having terrorized inhabitants of the Delaware Valley in 1909, when people stayed home even in daylight and factories and theaters closed. When all the reports were assembled, though, descriptions of the creature varied widely. At least one person later confessed to participating in the 1909 events by creating footprints of the supposed devil. In another famous scare in 1951 the Jersey devil was said to have attacked and mutilated poultry, cats, and dogs. Some have written the Jersey devil off as a mere hoax. Others have seen it as a folk legend lost in endless variations.


Bord, Janet, and Collin Bord. Alien Animals. Harrisburg, Penn.: Stackpole Books, 1981.

Clark, Jerome. Encyclopedia of Strange and Unexplained Phenomena. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.

McCloy, J. F., and Ray Miller, Jr. The Jersey Devil. Newark, Del.: Middle Atlantic Press, 1976.

Stein, Gordon. Encyclopedia of Hoaxes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.