Throughout the course of human history, we have developed a staggering amount of mythology, lore, and religious beliefs. Countless monsters have been developed at an attempt to explain the unexplainable, but these simple myths have developed into an entirely different thing. What really are the monsters we try so hard not to believe in? The idea of monsters, as I’ve come to believe, are a manifestation of our fears. They are ideas where we can put our deepest fears, and if something bad happens, we know what to blame. But, as people, we don’t really believe in this, do we? But, if we do, does that mean that these monsters are fake?
The massive wooded area called the Pine Barrens has been told to be haunted by the legendary Jersey Devil. People have come to think of it as yet another piece of lies that we have built our culture upon, but that can’t possibly be the case with this creature. The tremendous amount of evidence and witness accounts about the devil (over 2,000) can safely say that there was something that did haunt these woods. This isn’t, in fact, the only creature said to haunt the Pines. The background behind the Jersey Devil is a typical superstition. A lady named Mother Leeds (or Mrs. Shrouds) of Leeds Point, N.J., was to give birth to her 13th child. This lady had a secret desire that this child would become a devil, a terrible wish for a mother to have. But then, when she went into labor and the baby was born. Nothing abnormal was first spotted about this child. But then, only moments later, this child sprouted horns, and, in a moment of pure terror, grew into a monster 4 ft tall, with devilish features, and the last sight Mother Leeds ever saw was her own devil child killing her.
This was 1735. Supposedly, after raiding chicken coops, killing animals, and terrifying locals, but in 1740, a local clergy exorcised the devil for 100 years and it wasn’t seen for 150 years.
But then, it came back.
The years following the ‘release’ of the devil, were, in the simplest ways possible, one of the most unexplainable events of our time. Even the most skeptical researchers can agree that there was something paranormal haunting the woods of the Pines. The years directly after the ministers exorcism wore was a little hectic to say the least. People all across southern New Jersey locked their doors and kept their children inside, for the creature would prey on animals and children. Then the sightings decreased, leaving people to believe that the creature had entirely vanished. Until the early 1900s.
In 1909, the most unexplainable event in the entirety of human history occurred. Through the week of January 16th to the 23rd, literally thousands of people spotted this creature. Apparently, it attack a trolley car in Haddon Heights and a social club in Camden. A police officer continuously fired his revolver at this beast late one night, only for no effect even when he was sure it was hit. Hundreds reported seeing peculiar and unidentified footprints in the snow (later researches tried calling them horse footprints, but there was no match). On January 19th, a long married couple named the Evans reported seeing the creature on the roof of their shed after waking up to a disruptive noise. With the Jersey Devil literally on their porch, reporters came to their home the next day, and Mrs. Evans told them that the devil was about 3 and a half feet tall, with 2 foot long wings. Apparitions of the ghostly figure even appeared alongside Pennsylvania. That was the height of the sightings. The people were so horrified that schools were closed and it was even publically addressed by the authorities. And the Philadelphia Zoo offered 10,000 dollars for a mere sample of its dung. And then, not a short time later, a woman awoke in the night to hear the impotent cries of her dog, and when she went to see what the matter was, she was petrified to see a creature with long wings, the head of a horse, and a neck like a crane, seeping its teeth in to the flesh of the dog. In a state of manic, she chased the creature away with the broom, but not before the creature ripped out a chunk of flesh from the dog. The Devil spread out its blood covered black wings, and flew off back into the darkness.
The woman who had the unfortune just to meet the Devil let alone have her dog ripped apart by it laid beside her mutilated pet in tears, while over 100 townsfolk watched, petrified and unable to help. She brought her wounded animal and inside and immediately called the police, but when they arrived deafening screeches pierced the air, while the patrolmen emptied their revolvers at the shadow that loomed above them all. The animal didn’t survive.
After this event, sightings died down and became an irregular thing to spot the Devil. The authorities addressed this publicly and stated that the 300 year old creature must have died, or it must have never been there, because a creature couldn’t live for more than that age, right? They couldn’t have been more wrong. Although the sightings died down and it became a less average thing to ever spot the unfathomable creature, it’s not like the people forgot or the sightings stopped after this. In the 1960s, a similar plague of sightings were reported, these ones less publicized and more like unexplainable noises. As the years went on, more independent sightings were reported, but the stories were still told of the unforeseen dangers that lurk within the isolated depths of the pines.
There is not one human who can tell you the exact truth of what evil lives in the woods, or what is real and what isn’t. But, what we do know is that too many people have seen this creature to deny the existence. But, if it is real, does that open a door to the other tales we were led to believe were acts of fantasy? All of the other monsters we were told were fake? Or are there also just lies in an attempt to fill the gaps of our knowledge? These questions may, in fact, never be answered. But then it leaves us to ponder. Are we really alone in this world?