Post by Graveyardbride on Jan 16, 2016 3:44:39 GMT -5
200 Years of Jersey Devil Encounters
There are several versions of the origins of what has come to be called the Jersey Devil. One of the most popular is that either a “Mrs. Leeds” or a “Mrs. Shrouds of Leeds Point, N.J.,” discovered she was pregnant and because she already had a houseful of children, – some say a dozen – carelessly remarked, “I’d just as soon have a devil in the house as another child!” Her words came back to haunt her for when she gave birth, the “thing” had horns, cloven hooves and yellow demonic eyes. Within a few minutes after birth, it had grown to the size of a boy and in a puff of smoke, suddenly whooshed up the chimney, leaving a strong smell of brimstone in its wake.
In another version of the tale, one stormy night, either Mrs. Leeds or Mrs. Shrouds gave birth to a horribly deformed and misshapen baby, which she attempted to hide from neighbors by keeping it locked in the shed room where firewood was kept. He was allowed outside the room only after dark and one night as the thunder roared and lightning streaked across the skies, the abomination was capering about the house when it suddenly flapped its leathery wings and disappeared up the chimney.
Yet a third version of the story has a young girl falling in love with a British soldier during the Revolutionary War. Local folk condemned her and some even warned that a child sired by an enemy soldier would surely be a devil. When she gave birth, sure enough, the infant had horns, hooves and wings and even her own family agreed she was being punished for her treachery. The family told everyone the monstrously-deformed offspring had died at birth and kept the fruit of their daughter’s shame locked in the woodshed for several years until one night when the moon was at its fullest, it escaped into the pine barrens.
But whatever the origins of the Jersey Devil, the legend grew and, occasionally, someone encountered the “demon.” One of the more notable sightings occurred in the early 19th century when Revolutionary naval hero, Commodore Stephen Decatur, was present during the testing of cannon balls when a strange creature flew across the field. Either he, or one of the other men present, fired a cannon toward the winged monster and the ball went right through the thing, leaving a round hole. The Jersey Devil, however, unfazed by the iron projectile, did not alter his pace and continued flying leisurely toward the woods.
Another sighting by a famous person occurred sometime between 1816 and 1839 when Joseph Bonaparte (aka Comte de Survilliers), brother of Napoleon and former king of Spain, went into exile in the United States after abdicating his throne. Around 1817, he purchased property in Bordentown, New Jersey. His estate, Point Breeze, consisted of 1,800 acres bordering Crosswick Creek. Bonaparte loved to hunt and one snowy afternoon, discovered mysterious tracks in the woods that he later said looked like the footprints of a two-footed donkey with one foot slightly larger than the other. He followed the imprints until they abruptly ended as though the creature had suddenly taken flight. As he stared in wonderment, he heard what he later described as a hissing noise behind him and turning, came face-to-face with a huge, winged animal with a horse-like head and bird-like legs. Bonaparte was too unnerved to shoot and after staring for a minute, the strange creature hissed at him again, flapped its wings and flew away. The following day, he repeated the story and was told he had encountered the infamous Jersey Devil. Thereafter, Bonaparte looked for the animal or its tracks every time he went hunting, but never encountered the beast again.
During the years 1840 and 41, farmers complained of losing chickens, sheep and goats and reported finding mysterious tracks among the animal parts left behind. Some insisted that on nights the attacks occurred, they heard the piercing scream of some unknown animal stalking the forest. The cry, they insisted, sounded something like that of a panther (cougar) or a woman in distress. Reports and sightings of the Jersey Devil continued and W. F. Meyer included the tale of the mysterious creature in his article “In the Pines” that appeared in the May 1859 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, in which he wrote that many local people were so afraid of the creature that most avoided venturing out after dark if at all possible.
Throughout the remaining years of the 19th century, there were numerous reports of the Devil’s snatching livestock in and around Bridgeton, Brigatine, Haddonfield, Long Branch, Leeds Point and Smithville. There were those who swore the monster would carry off anything that moved. The last recorded sighting of the beast before 1900 was by George Saarosy, a prominent businessman who lived near the New York border.
Sporadic sightings continued, but slowly dwindled and by 1903, Charles Skinner, author of American Myths and Legends, declared the legend of the Jersey Devil had run its course and no more would be heard of the Pine Barrens abomination. Indeed, it appeared the Devil had faded into obscurity – nothing more than a bogey man from times past to frighten naughty children.
Little was heard of the Devil in the ensuing six years and the few sightings – including a 1905 report by a keeper at the Absecon Lighthouse that he saw the winged monster atop the tower – were chalked up to overactive imagination. Then on the night of Saturday, January 16, 1909, Thack Cozzens saw a creature with glowing eyes flying down a street in Woodbury, N. J. He gave a statement attesting he “heard a hissing and something white flew across the street. I saw two spots of phosphorus – the eyes of the beast. There was a white cloud, like escaping steam from an engine. It moved as fast as an auto.” Eleven miles away in Gloucester City, James Feldon discovered eerie, unidentifiable footprints in eight different yards, with a trail leading to a junkyard. A Mrs. Shindle also saw footprints – or perhaps the creature itself – for she declared, “It’s a two-legged cow with wings.”
Visitations of 1909. Around 2 a.m. Sunday morning (January 17), almost 40 miles northeast of Gloucester City, John Mcowen of Bristol, Penn., was awakened by what he said “sounded like the screams of a baby” and other strange noises that “sounded like the scratching of a phonograph before the music begins and yet, it also had something of a whistle to it. You know how the factory whistle sounds? Well, it was something like that,” he claimed. Around the same time, James Sackville, a police officer, had an odd feeling as he listened to dogs barking and growling in several yards. When he turned around, there in the shadows stood the Jersey Devil – a winged creature hopping around. The features, he observed, were peculiar for he had never seen anything like it before and it had a “horrible” scream. He pulled his pistol and fired as he ran toward the beast – or so he said – which took flight and disappeared into the darkness. A third sighting in Bristol was reported by Postmaster E. W. Minster, who reported, “I awoke about 2 o’clock in the morning ... and finding myself unable to sleep, I arose and wet my head with cold water as a cure for insomnia. As I got up, I heard an eerie, almost supernatural, sound from the direction of the river ... I looked out upon the Delaware and saw flying diagonally across what appeared to be a large crane, but which was emitting a glow like a firefly. Its head resembled that of a ram, with curled horns, and its long thick neck was thrust forward in flight. It had long thin wings and short legs, the front legs shorter than the hind. Again, it uttered its mournful and awful call – a combination of a squawk and a whistle, the beginning very high and piercing and ending very low and hoarse ....” Several other Bristol residents found their yards covered in mysterious hoof prints when they went outside Sunday morning.
The following day, the Joseph Lowden family of Burlington, N.J. – no more than 1½ miles from Bristol, but on the other side of the Delaware River – discovered the strange prints of a hoofed animal in their yard and something had eaten some of the table scraps in their trash. They claimed the beast circled the house and at one point, attempted to open the back door. Others in Burlington found similar footprints that stopped and started again as though the creature had run up the trunks of trees and flown from rooftop-to-rooftop. The prints were also reported by residents in Columbus, Hedding, Kinhora and Rancoas – all within an approximate five-mile radius of Burlington. In some locations, men with tracking hounds attempted to track the creature, but the dogs either could not, or would not, follow the trail.
By Tuesday, January 19, the Devil was back in Gloucester City, where it awakened Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Evans around 2:30 a.m. After hearing strange noises, the pair looked out their bedroom window and saw the winged monster standing on the roof of an outbuilding. The creature remained stationary for what they believed was approximately 10 minutes, allowing them sufficient time to get a good look at the fiend. Later, Nelson Evans said, “It was about three feet-and-a-half high, with a head like a collie dog and a face like a horse. It had a long neck, wings about two feet long, and its back legs were like those of a crane, and it had horse’s hooves. It walked on its back legs and held up two short front legs with paws on them. It didn’t use the front legs at all while we were watching. My wife and I were scared, I tell you, but I managed to open the window and say, ‘Shoo!’ and it turned around, barked at me and flew away.”
That afternoon, two professional hunters familiar with the footprints of every animal in the region, insisted they had never before seen anything like those of the winged monster. Nevertheless, they tracked the creature for miles and later reported the animal – if it was an animal – jumped five-foot fences and squeezed under, or through, tiny spaces of no more than eight inches. One of the men was so unnerved by the experience that he swore he would never leave home again without his gun.
In Camden, a young girl fainted when she came upon the Devil’s tracks and her identification of the prints, like those of several others, was that one was larger than the other as if the creature had a deformed foot. There was also an actual sighting in Camden by a witness who claimed the animal looked “something like a possum, the size of a dog, with a shrill bark, flapping its wings and taking off into the air.” The same day, a witness in Swedesboro insisted the creature had horns or antlers, and in Glassboro, a witness observed the tracks had three toes and appeared to be dog-like.
On Wednesday, the Reverend John Pursell of Pemberton and a Burlington police officer both saw the Devil. A posse organized in Haddonfield found tracks that ended abruptly and another posse in Collingswood watched helplessly as the mysterious animal flew off toward Moorestown. During its flight, the monster was observed by John Smith of Maple Shade flying over Mount Carmel Cemetery. Immediately thereafter, George Snyder espied the beast and his description and that of Smith tallied, with both men agreeing it was “three-feet high” with “long black hair over its entire body, arms and hands like a monkey, face like a dog, split hooves and a tail a foot long.” In Riverside, people reported finding hoof prints on roof tops and near a dead puppy the animal had apparently killed. A trolley car operator in Springside glimpsed something he said “looked like a winged kangaroo with a long neck” cross the tracks and disappear into the shadows.
By Thursday, January 21, the creature had returned to Camden. At approximately 1 a.m., a member of the Black Hawk Social Club heard a noise at the back window and when he turned, came face-to-face with the Jersey Devil staring at him through the glass. As terrified members looked on, he attempted to scare the thing away and the beast finally flew off. All who heard its screams described them as bloodcurdling.
Around 2 o’clock, trolley passengers in Haddon Heights were shocked to see the mysterious winged animal flying about nearby. When the trolley stopped, witnesses watched in horror as the creature circled above making hissing cries as it flew away. In his report, Lewis Boeger wrote: “In general appearance it resembled a kangaroo ... It has a long neck and from what glimpse I got of its head, its features are hideous. It has wings of a fairly good size and of course in the darkness looked black. Its legs are long and somewhat slender and were held in just such a position as a swan’s when it is flying. We all tried to get a look at its feet to see what shape they were, but the darkness was too great. It looked to be about four-feet-high.”
Just four hours later, a woman in Burlington – 15 miles north of Haddon Heights – heard a noise in an alley near her home, looked out the window and saw a creature she described as having bird-like features and the head of a horse. When it appeared the thing was about to leap at her, she quickly slammed the window shut and collapsed from sheer fright. In her account, she said “for some minutes, I was so frightened I was unable to scream. My husband and son had already gone to work and I was finally able to waken my youngest son, who was asleep upstairs.” Though no one else saw the demon, footprints were discovered in the alley and there was a rumor making the rounds in Burlington that the mayor had ordered police to shoot the Devil on sight.
Also on Thursday, William Cromley of Trenton pulled up to his home and, according to the report, when he exited his buggy, saw “a sight that froze the blood in his veins and caused his hair to stand upright.” He described the creature as “a beast of fur and feathers, about the size of an average dog, with the face of a German shepherd, from which glowered large, sparkling eyes.” As he watched, the creature flapped its wings and flew away. Also in Trenton, City Councilman E. P. Weeden was awakened by what he thought was someone attempting to break into his house. He hurried to the window of his second-floor bedroom where he heard flapping wings and when he looked out, observed hoof prints in the snow on the roof over the porch. The same footprints were observed in other parts of Trenton, including at the nearby arsenal. In both Trenton and New Brunswick, armed guards were assigned to streetcars in case of an attack by the Jersey Devil.
In Pitman, Bridgeton and Millville, farmers reported large numbers of missing chickens. Some said they heard loud screeching cries in the night and others claimed the dead chickens did not appear to have a mark on them. Everyone agreed this was the work of the demon of the pine barrens. In Roebling, there were so many tracks covering some yards that it appeared an entire legion of devils had gathered in the night for a romp around town.
The beast was sighted by a man walking along the highway in Leiperville, Penn., and he insisted the thing had “skin like an alligator, stood on its hind feet and was about six-feet-tall” and ran faster than passing cars. William Cronk spotted a creature with “a horse-like head, long hind legs with claws and big wings,” flying across his yard. He, too, said the animal walked upright like a human and there were tracks all over the place. Approximately eight miles away, as the crow flies, two women in Westville, N.J., were attending a meeting when they happened to look out the window where they saw a strange creature sitting in the snow in the front yard. Shortly thereafter, a group of men formed a search party to find and destroy the fiend. Around five miles away in West Collingswood, two men walking along the road saw what they initially believed to be an ostrich sitting atop a house. They notified the fire department and firemen used their hose to shoot a hefty stream of water at the creature, knocking it off the roof. It was assumed the beast would flee, but it suddenly turned and charged onlookers. The crowd began throwing anything they could get their hands on at the abomination, but the thing paid no attention and continued its advance, but instead of attacking, spread its wings and vanished into the night sky.
Mrs. Mary Sorbinski of Camden was the first to witness an actual attack by the Jersey Devil. Around 7 p.m., she heard the dog barking at something in the backyard and opened the door to see the animal in the “vice-like grip” of what she described as a “horrible monster.” She began smacking at the creature with a broomstick, causing it to drop the whimpering canine. It then began shrieking and flew at her, but suddenly changed directions and disappeared in the darkness. Once she was certain the beast was gone, she discovered the dog was missing a big chunk of flesh. She notified neighbors and within the hour, police arrived, curious neighbors crowded the yard and everyone present heard the piercing screeches of the creature. Police officers fired at the beast and it eventually flew off. This particular incident frightened people all over New Jersey, causing a statewide panic.
In the meantime, across the Delaware in Philadelphia, Mrs. J. E. White reported an encounter with the Devil while hanging out laundry around 4 p.m. She noticed “something” in the corner of the yard and as she approached, an animal with scaly skin rose to a height of approximately six-feet and spurted flames from its mouth. Mrs. White screamed, her husband came running and by the time he got to his wife, she had fainted. However, he caught a glimpse of the beast and when he attempted to hit it with a pole, the fiend swiftly took wing. Immediately thereafter, a driver almost hit a weird creature as it scampered across the road. William Becker claimed he had thrown stones at a beast and another witness insisted he had seen the Jersey Devil sitting beside the road.
A man by the name of R. L. Campbell reported that a man told him the creature’s tail touched an electric railway, causing a power surge and a great explosion that melted the tracks for 20 feet in both directions, but no remains of the animal were discovered. A telegraph lineman filed a similar report, in which he contended: “In an isolated spot in the Jersey Pines, about five miles from Pleasantville, at a place known as Beaver Pond, one of the linemen, Howard Campbell, was detailed on a piece of work a little distance from the rest of the men on duty. After walking a little way into the woods, his attention was attracted by something coming down the path toward him. He became so frightened by the unusual appearance of the thing that he straightway made for the nearest telegraph pole. Letting out several yells for help and losing his wits entirely by the time he reached the top of the pole, Campbell threw himself out on the mass of wires between the two poles and was lying there helpless by the time the rest of the gang, including myself, had arrived. Seeing the ‘Terror’ on the pole, I raised my gun and fired. One shot broke a wing and it fell to the ground, uttering hideous screams; but before anyone could collect his wits, the thing was up and off with long strides and a sort of hop, dragging one wing and then disappearing into the pine thicket. We got ropes and other tackle and helped Campbell down from his precarious position. As nearly as I can describe the terror, it had the head of a horse, the wings of a bat and a tail like a rat’s, only longer.” (According to some sources, this incident occurred in February 1909 and was the final Jersey Devil report that year.)
If the shooting incident occurred January 21, the Jersey Devil made a remarkably quick recovery, for the following day, Friday, January 22, the fiend was back in Camden, where a family was awakened around 2 a.m. by footsteps on their roof. Two hours later, Louis Strehr, a police officer, observed the mysterious creature – which he described as having “the head and body of a kangaroo, antlers like a deer and bat wings” – drinking from a horse trough. Parents in Mount Ephraim would not allow their children to go to school and factories, mills and offices in Gloucester and Hainesport were closed because no one appeared for work. Citizens throughout the state were afraid to leave their homes, even in daylight. In Blackwood, a police officer by the name of Merchant made a sketch of the beast he saw and it matched descriptions others had provided earlier in the week. In Salem, Jacob Henderson saw the Devil, which he described as having “wings and a tail,” but when his bulldog barked and growled at the beast, it ran into the woods. There were also reports of sightings in Trenton and Woodbury. Two girls in Chester, Penn., reportedly saw the demon fly out of an open boxcar of a stationary freight train and into the sky. In nearby Morristown, a man claimed he had captured the creature in his barn, but when authorities arrived, the winged animal was nowhere to be found.
There were no reported Devil sightings Saturday, January 23, nor the following day, nor the day after that. The creature, or whatever it was, had vanished as suddenly as it had appeared the previous Saturday when Thack Cozzens saw the glowing-eyed monster flying along a Woodbury street.
The next sighting of the Jersey Devil – and the final one recorded for 1909 – occurred February 24 when a farmer in Salem County claimed to have seen a strange, bird-like creature with human feet.
The unidentified creature that had plagued New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania in1909 had seemingly vanished for good and was soon relegated to folklore. In 1918, there was a single Devil encounter and only a handful of reports during the 1920s. Then in 1927, a taxi driver changing a flat was terrified when a hairy creature landed atop his vehicle, stood upright like a man and caused the car to shake violently.
The 1930s. There were less than a half-dozen sightings in the 1930s, one of which occurred in August 1930 when berry pickers at Leeds Point and Mays Landing reported seeing the Devil eating blueberries and cranberries. A similar encounter occurred two weeks later. In 1932, there was a single report in Downington, Penn., and another New Jersey report in 1935. The beast managed to avoid detection until 1936 when several people in Woodstown heard peculiar, piercing cries emanating from the woods which they attributed to the demon of the pine barrens. The following year, the July 28, 1937, issue of the Evening Bulletin, reported that witnesses in Downington had seen what they described as a kangaroo-like creature and a posse gathered to hunt down the beast.
The 1940s. Devil sightings were scarce in the 1940s, but shortly after the end of World War II, a panic broke out at Fort Dix (south of Trenton), when someone, or some “thing,” slashed tents and committed other acts of vandalism and one night, a guard chased “a white thing” into the woods. Many scoffed when someone mentioned the Jersey Devil, but those who remembered the “visitation” of 1909 were not among them.
The 1950s. In November 1951, a group of youngsters were allegedly cornered by the Jersey Devil at the Duport Clubhouse in Gibbstown. Dozens of people saw the creature, but it bounded away without harming anyone. Also in 1951, a posse in Gibbsboro (30 miles west of Gibbstown), stalked a beast that some described as “a bloody-faced Devil,” while others contended they were chasing a seven-foot-tall “hairy man.” Two years later, in 1953, Phillip Smith, known to be a “sober and honest man,” observed a strange creature walking along the street. In 1957, employees of the New Jersey Department of Conservation discovered the bones, feathers and hind legs of an unknown animal in the Pine Barrens. In 1959, several boys in Wall Township were caught hunting in the woods and fined even though they claimed to have been hot on the trail of the Jersey Devil. During the summer of 1959 in Bridgeton, two young sisters saw a monster staring at them through their bedroom window.
The 1960s. In 1961, two couples driving through the Pine Barrens insisted the Jersey Devil landed on top of their car. Terrified and fearing the creature would crush the vehicle with them inside, the four got out and ran into the woods. It wasn’t until they heard a shrill scream and saw the fiend flying away that they returned to their vehicle, the top of which was badly dented. Five men hunting near Lake Atsion in the proximity of Batsto in 1963 discovered strange tracks that measured 11-inches in length and heard loud, shrill cries. The men were all experienced hunters, but none could identify the odd footprints or the bloodcurdling shrieks. A year later (in 1964), strange screeching sounds were reported at Estell Manor. In April of 1966, mutilated dogs and livestock were discovered near the Mullica River. In one such incident, more than 40 animals – 31 ducks, three geese, four cats and two dogs – were badly mangled and killed in a manner such as the owner had never seen before. One of the animals was a 90-pound German shepherd that had its throat ripped out. The authorities discovered giant footprints in the area where the animals were killed. Unfortunately, the ground was too wet to follow the monster to its lair or create plaster casts. On September 9, 1966, a couple witnessed a “glowing” creature which they described as “horse-like” in Edison. This particular sighting was supposedly thoroughly investigated. There were no Devil sightings of note for two years, then in 1969, a gentleman driving in Sweetwater saw the Jersey Devil cross the road in front of his car.
The 1970s. The Jersey Devil became much more active in the 70s with the first report coming from Mercer County, where the beast pulled a child’s hair. The following year (1971), farmers in Leeds Point blamed the demon for killing their chickens. Four or five couples were partying in Manahawkin one summer night in 1973 and around 11 o’clock, they all saw a creature fly out of the brush. They described it as a big, black animal, almost the size of a large buck with huge black wings and red eyes. When the beast swept its wings downward, there was such a strong “swoosh” that food, drinks and other items were blown off the hoods of their cars. “We actually heard the wing brush the windshield of the one car,” a member of the group said later. “Needless to say, we all tumbled into the cars and went back to a better-lit area! But even the next day, when we all sobered up, we all could describe the same thing, right down to the red eyes.” In 1974, an ambulance driver heard cries emanating from the Pine Barrens, and a carful of people saw a mysterious creature cross their path near Batsto in Wharton State Forest. Also in 1974, people canoeing on Cedar Creek observed something watching them from the bank.
A horse in Williamstown was discovered with its throat completely torn out in 1975 and neighbors immediately blamed the Jersey Devil. The same year, several children reported an encounter with the demon and in October, a Somerset man witnessed a strange creature flying toward him before alighting nearby. In 1976, an attendant at a Jackson Mills service station insisted the Jersey Devil was constantly following him home at night. On the other side of the state in Pedricktown, there were several reports of dead pigs and farmers said some of them were literally ripped to pieces. A woman near a lake in Batsto and a man in Long Branch claimed they had been hissed and screamed at by a strange beast.
The year 1977 was another busy one for the Jersey Devil. In January, there was a report from Chatsworth and that summer, a woman in the Pine Barrens observed the creature eating blueberries. A terrifying monster grabbed the door handle of a woman’s car in Penns Grove and though she reached a speed of 60-miles-per-hour in an attempt to force the thing to let go, it was able to run, or fly, effortlessly beside her, still clutching the handle. The Devil also tormented campers in Tuckerton, where the noisy fiend dented trailers and left hoof prints in various camping spots. One of the more interesting encounters of 1977 was that of a woman in Vincentown who was watching television when she heard something outside. Believing it was her horse, she looked out and saw a creature standing on two legs “shaped like a deer’s legs,” with massive wings, which it spread and brought down with what she described as a loud “slap.” Believing she was hallucinating, she lay down and soon heard something walking about in her front yard accompanied by “loud hissing growls,” which she likened to the sounds dragons made in the movies. She described the animal as furry, with a horse- or goat-shaped head and horns that “went back like a goat’s.”
In 1978, a group of Chatsworth teenagers encountered the Pine Barrens demon, which they said had red eyes and a bad smell. In June, two campers in Atsion contacted park rangers, claiming the screams of the Jersey Devil had kept them awake all night. Similar howls and screams were heard later on that year in Smithville and Chestnut Neck. A boy in Jersey City was awakened by a screaming beast scratching at his window. He cried out and jumped back into bed, but by the time his father got to his room the creature was gone. Also in 1978, two camp counselors locked themselves in the laundry building at a Blairstown YMCA camp after hearing horrific unidentifiable howls coming from the woods.
In 1979, a couple in Tabernacle Township claimed they were hearing horrible cries by what they assumed was the Jersey Devil from the forest behind their home. The creature was also spotted on the Stockton State College campus in Pamona, after which a group of students attempted to track the animal.
The 1980s. A couple reported seeing the Jersey Devil at Atsion Lake in 1981. In 1987, the creature killed a German shepherd in Vineland and unidentifiable hoof prints were discovered nearby. In the late 1980s, three young men on a camping trip in the Pine Barrens had gotten up early and gone for a ride on their mountain bikes when they heard what they described as loud, piercing, inhuman screams. When they returned to camp, their fellow campers said they also heard the screams. That night, some members of their group went into town and after mentioning what had happened, the owner of the bar took them outside and showed them where something with long, powerful claws had ripped metal garbage cans to bits.
The 1990s. In the early 1990s, four female college students were camping in the Pine Barrens when they were awakened in the night by high-pitched cries and something stomping about outside their tent. There was a full moon and all four saw a creature walking on “two animal legs,” i.e., legs that looked like the hind legs of an animal as opposed to the legs of a human. When one of the girls began to scream, the “thing” spread its wings and flew away, its cries gradually fading into the night. When daylight came, they packed their belongings and started driving. For some reason, instead of contacting the authorities, they drove to Barnegat, where one of them lived, and told the girl’s family what happened. By that time it was raining, but the young lady’s brother and one of his friends accompanied them to the spot where they had camped. Unfortunately, the rain had washed away the footprints. Because most people chalked up this particular “Devil” sighting to female hysteria, the girls never made an official report, but at least one of the young women anonymously revealed their encounter with the Jersey Devil.
The year 2000 to the present. At approximately 8:15 a.m., Thursday, August 31, 2000, Sheila Fabi, who lived across the road from a heavily-wooded area near Mays Landing, saw a “strange creature” peeking out from the trees in her rearview mirror. She described the animal as 7- to 8-feet tall with a thin “snout-like” head. The monster was brownish grey with wings folded downward. She said the creature appeared to be curious.
In 2009, a woman and her husband had driven out into the Pine Barrens after midnight to shoot a new gun they had purchased. When they headed back to their car, they heard loud, flapping noises overhead and noticed the tops of the trees were swaying although there was no wind. The wife had left her cell phone in the car, but they couldn’t find it. While they were standing at the vehicle with both doors open, something threw the phone at her, smashing it so thoroughly it was totally destroyed. They immediately drove off with the wife at the wheel, then decided to switch drivers and when they stopped to exchange seats, they heard birds all over the place screeching as though they were warning each other of impending danger.
In the spring of 2011, Nicholas Sakalauskas, his mother and a friend were returning from the Bamboozle Festival in Asbury Park when a bipedal animal ran across the road in front of them. The headlights, he said, were shining directly on the creature, or whatever it was, but they were able to see only from the leg up to the hip area and the rest of the thing was completely black. All three were speechless until his friend broke the silence, asking, “Was that the freaking Jersey Devil?!”
As recently as last October (2015), there were two sightings of the Jersey Devil, with one man actually snapping a photo of the creature. A few days later, a woman submitted a videotape of the demon of the Pine Barrens. However, both the photo and video appeared to have been faked and were dismissed as hoaxes.
The Blue Hole. Some believe the dwelling place of the Jersey Devil is Winslow Township’s Blue Hole, a small pond measuring approximately 130-feet in diameter, which locals describe as “clear as glass and as cold as a tomb, even in the summer.” Charles Beck visited the Blue Hole in the 1960s and concluded “portions of the pool” are indeed “icy cold even in summer, water not to be lingered in on any day,” while “other spots are contrastingly warm.” One of those he interviewed, Mrs. Bernard Alange, told him the warm areas of what is known locally as the “Devil’s Puddle,” never froze over, even when the rest of the pond was “caked with ice.” But it’s not the unusual temperature of the enigmatic body of water that disturbs those who live nearby, nor its remarkable clarity, but rather its unfathomable depth. Mrs. Alange recalled a “party of scientists” visited the Hole years earlier with a “huge weight and a long line of cable.” But no matter how far down the scientists dropped the weight, the line would always run out before it reached the bottom.
“My father and others warned me and the boys I went around with not to hang around that bottomless pit,” said Drew Dixon, who lived near the Blue Hole. “They used to say things about cramps, but they meant more than that. It was as if there were something about that pool that had them scared, something they didn’t want to understand, something that gave them the shakes. I remember John I. Brown ... he laughed at their warnings one day and swam out to the middle. Just as he got there, he let out a shout. ... They managed to fish him out ... he said the Devil reached up and got him from deep in the pool.”
Sources: The Jersey Devil by James F. McCloy and Ray Miller; More Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey by Henry Charlton Beck; Delaware River Heritage Trail; W.F. Meyer, "In the Pines," Atlantic Monthly, May 1859; Weird N.J.; Laura K. Leuter, The Devil Hunters; Monster Sightings; American Myths and Legends by Charles Skinner; and Hidden Animals: A Field Guide to Batsquatch, Chupacabra and Other Elusive Creatures by Michael Newton.
See also “New Jersey’s Mysterious Blue Hole”:whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/3222/new-jersey-mysterious-blue-hole