Informant is from a suburb in the center of New Jersey, in Monmouth County. She went to a boarding high school in rural Northern New Jersey however, in a very isolated area.
“We had this thing called a Freshman Retreat in my 9th grade year, which was at a campground called Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, which was literally the same camp where they filmed Friday the 13th. Because of this, one of the nights we decided to watch Friday the 13th, and began telling each other scary stories to scare each other before bed. One of these stories was the Jersey Devil, which was a local legend. This is a story that basically anybody who is from New Jersey has heard of, and people tell it all the time.
So the Jersey Devil was like, this winged goat-like creature with hooves and horns that lives in the forests of New Jersey. Some lady a long time ago had a bunch of children, and when she had her 13th child, a devil popped out instead and flew away, which is now the Jersey Devil. Some of the campers said that it was near Trenton, but others said that it was near Blairstown, where we were. Either way, that had me really really scared. So the Jersey Devil would steal away young children from their parents. Uhh… It would either eat you, or raise you as its own child, but I can’t really remember. One thing I can remember though is that someone was saying that if it came into our cabins, it would take people who slept on the top bunk. I was also sleeping on the top bunk, right by the window, so I was thinking about it the whole night and was so scared.”
Why do you think people told this story?
“Now looking back at it, probably mostly to scare people, especially little kids. Like, the cabin we were at was a perfect place to tell it because it was so close to the woods. I even told my little brother the story once when he was being a brat, so he would shut up. But yeah, I guess it was mainly just to give people in New Jersey a fright.”
This is a pretty famous story that even I have heard of all the way in California, through a TV program about supernatural creatures. However, the informant, being in the woods in New Jersey, probably got the full experience and the most impact from hearing it. This local legend has become widespread across all of New Jersey, making it a piece of folklore that is shared through state identity, and I would say that it has become a part of New Jersey’s culture. It was very interesting to hear about it from a person who is actually from New Jersey, making the story seem more authentic than it was when I had seen it on television.