One of the more interesting stories I heard , when I moved to New Jersey, was about the Jersey Devil. It seems that a frightening and gruesome creature haunts the very neighborhood we live in. The Jersey Devil has been terrorizing the Pineland area for over 250 years. He has been blamed for many horrifying deeds and his sightings have been numerous.
I know that I will think twice before walking the sandy trails in the Pinelands because "Where stunted pines of burned-over forest are revealed in darksome pools, The Jersey Devil Lurks."
It seems that there are several versions of the Story, but they all revolve around the birth of a child. That child then tranforms into- you guessed it-
The Devil of NJ
The most common folktale is that the Jersey Devil is the offspring of one Mrs. Leeds, who, in 1735, after hearing she was pregnant with her 13th child, was overheard saying "it might just as well be a devil as a child." Devil it was, and it flew directly from womb to the swamps, cursing it's mother on the way out the chimney.
The Devil eventually began to enjoy status of local legend, (and even became the state's "official demon" in the 1930's) tales of his beginnings filling the conversations of pubs and churches alike.
Descriptions of the Devil range from a "flying lion" to "an eagle with four legs" and everything in-between, but one attribute that does not change from report to report is the Devil's call, a combination howl and whistle. When harassing the good people of New Jersey, the Devil would eat livestock, attempt to steal children, and scare the bejezus out of everyone in the process, often leaving cloven footprints to corroborate the stories of startled victims.
The New Jersey Devil to some is a mythical being and to some a reality. The story begins centuries ago with a Quaker woman named Mother Leeds who was involved with a some sort of mysterious evil cult. She had 12 children during that time. However, when she was pregnant with the 13th child, she cursed it to be a devil. Her wish was granted as the newborn emerged normal at first, but then turned into a vile looking creature with horns, wings, and hooves. When it was born it immediately killed the entire family and laid waste to the small quaker town.
Yet Another Version-
According to one legend, the Jersey Devil was born during the American Revolution. The story goes that during the Battle of Chestnut Creek, a lovelorn Leeds Point girl fell for a British soldier. She was cursed by townsfolk for this act of treason and, as a result, later gave birth to the Leeds Devil.
One More Version-
A gypsy curse is also reputed to have brought the creature to the south Jersey woods. In this tale, a young girl, frightened by a vagabond, refused his request for food. All was forgotten until the girl gave birth to her first child, which became the fiendish creature.
Today it is said that this beast has been spotted in small towns near the deep forests in southern Jersey. References state that this short hairy demon lives in the huge preserved forest of the Pine Barrens.