Ep 74: The Jersey Devil - Prince of the Pine Barrens (Part 1)

“It was neither beast, nor man, nor spirit, but a hellish brew of all three.” 
– Vance Larner, writing in his diary about his encounter with the Jersey Devil in 1790.
Leeds Point, Galloway, New Jersey, United States.  As the most popular version of the legend of the Jersey Devil goes, Deborah Leeds (nee Smith) emigrated from England to marry Daniel Leeds in the mid-Eighteenth century.  When her 13th child was born, she cursed the difficult labor and the already impoverishing cicumstances of a brood of 12, and invoked the Devil.  The infant became a ghastly cryptid and has haunted the New Jersey Pine Barrens ever since.  Some legends have it as a "Mrs. Shrouds" as the beast's mother.


They say if you meet someone from New Jersey, Pennsylvania or New York, you don't ask them if they've heard of the "Jersey Devil," you ask them if they've had some kind of encounter with it.  The legend of the curious cryptid is so prolific, they've no doubt heard of it, and if they've spent any time near the Pine Barrens of "The Garden State," more often than not you'll find they've experienced some evidence of the beast, or know someone who has.  Folklorists say that there are more than 30 variations of the legend,  but the main origin story of New Jersey's own "Official Demon" goes all the way back to 1735, and a Mrs. Leeds of Galloway, NJ, who upon a difficult delivery of her 13th child, exclaimed it might as well be a devil – which, if the tale is to be believed, you should never do.  Since then, the story has been so popular that the idea of The Jersey Devil has made its way into movies, television, and video games, and is even the inspiration for the name of New Jersey's National Hockey League team.  But why has this tale endured for at least 282 years?  Is it because somehow the legend is just so fantastic that people can't forget it?  Or is it because, as so many residents throughout the years have claimed, from New Jersey's eastern shores, through the mysterious Pine Barrens all the way to western Pennsylvania, something really is out there?


Reference Links:


Related Books:

The Jersey Devil
By James F McCloy, Ray Miller Jr.
The Jersey Devil
By Hunter Shea
The Flight of Dragons
By Peter Dickinson
Phantom of the Pines: More Tales of the Jersey Devil
By James F. McCloy, Ray, Jr. Miller

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Episode 74: The Jersey Devil: Prince of the Pine Barrens (Part 1).  Produced by Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess; Audio Editing by Sarah Vorhees; Ryan McCullough Sound Design; Research Assistance by Tess Pfeifle and the astonishing League of Astonishing Researchers, a.k.a. The Astonishing Research Corps, or "A.R.C." for short. Copyright 2017 Astonishing Legends Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.