It was a cold and stormy night in the year 1735 and Mother Leeds was in the throes of labor ready to deliver her 13th Child. Fed up with the frustration of her previous children she was tired and worn out and cursed this child, "I hope this one is the devil!!!!". A few minutes later the child was born, after a bit the child transformed with the gnashing of teeth, sprouting of wings and the growing of claws. The Devil child jumped out of Mother Leeds arms, screeched loudly and then flew up the chimney out into the night.
Legend has it that Mother Leeds was a witch (although factual basis dictates otherwise) and the father was the Devil Himself. This could be political doublespeak in an attempt to assassinate the character of your rivals. The neighbors were weary of the Leed's family and the love affair with the Jersey Devil will prove this over the centuries. But is the legend of the Jersey Devil just a cautionary tale told to keep the children in line? Is it just an urban formulated to draw in tourists and to keep us entertained while gathered around the campfire?
Mrs. Leeds had a baby that was so deformed, it tore her open when it was born. The deformed baby was kept out of sight by the family, because it was so hideous. The birth was supposedly the result of Mrs. Leed's promiscuous lifestyle and the townspeople all shunned her. There are many accounts throughout history of the "feral child", this could be a child born with some sort of birth defect and the parent could not or would not deal with the situation for one of many reasons. Basically the deformed or "retarded" child would be brought to an isolated area and left on its one to fend for itself, and the Pine Barrens is the perfect isolated location. A decent horror film that depicts how children left to the wilderness to fend for themselves is a film called MAMA (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2023587/)
It is very easy to see how a deformed child born in this era could be confused with some sort of monster, or be considered the child of the devil. To an overly religious or an uneducated public, this phenomenon could be construed as being something Satanic or the product of witchcraft to the fearful witnesses. The scared public could have been the source of the Jersey Devil legends, they could have seen a deformed child and the tales could have manifested themselves into the legends that we all know of today.
The Jersey Devil was born out of fact, fate, myth, fear, resentment and a whole lot of mystery. There were components of political slander, fear of deformed/cognitively challenged offspring, Hammerhead Bats, herons, cranes, deer, tall tales and exaggerations, fear of the unknown and the gossip of the townsfolk. A couple hundred years later and the documentary, "THE SEARCH FOR THE JERSEY DEVIL" (www.facebook.com/TheSearchForTheJerseyDevil) is sorting through the stories and reports to make sense of it all.
A site that provides some photographic examples of birth defects would be: http://pixgood.com/chernobyl-animal-birth-defects.html
Fake Footprints (PHOTO):
The Devil Prints: In the year 1952, strange tracks appeared deep in the Pine Barrens at Whitesbog.
Pictured are: Wesley Gibbs, a State Game Warden, State Troopers Matthew Garbulenski and Charles Groves, and F. A. Fralinger examining the strange foot prints he found.
For more info concerning the Jersey Devil:
(Chris Chaos is a long time resident of South Jersey who once again resides in and writes from Gloucester City, New Jersey. He is a filmmaker, a business owner, writer, urban explorer and investigator of the odd and weird, a proud parent, happily taken and a connoisseur of hot wings. Chris can be reached at AxisVideo@aol.com)