The Jersey Devil, sometimes called the Leeds Devil, is a legendary creature or cryptid said to inhabit the Pine Barrens in southern New Jersey. The creature is often described as a flying biped with hooves, but there are many variations.
The most popular version of the Jersey Devil legend begins in the 18th century when Deborah Smith from England immigrated to the Pine Barrens in southern New Jersey to marry a Mr. Leeds, a rather vain man who wanted several heirs to continue the family name. Consequently, the new wife was continually pregnant. After bearing twelve healthy children, she was dismayed to be pregnant with her thirteenth. She cursed the unborn child, declaring a preference to bear the Devil's child rather than another Leeds. Apparently, her wish was granted as the new child had cloven hooves, claws, and a tail. The horrific newborn proceeded to eat the other Leeds children and the parents, before escaping through the chimney to begin its reign of terror. This version is contradicted by the fact that Mother Leeds has descendants that, as of 1998, still lived in Atlantic County New Jersey according to a New York Times article dated April 26, 1998 (Section 14NJ, Page 8). There are several variations of the Leeds tale, such as one claiming that when Mrs Leeds became pregnant with her thirteenth child, she remarked, "May it be a devil!" The belief that a deformed child was the work of Satan or a curse was still common during the 1800s.