Tag Archives: New Jersey

The Jersey Devil

Context: This testimony is from a GP who lives in Connecticut. She shared this legend with me that she was told by her 4th grade teacher in an English class. GP shared with me childhood trauma that stemmed from the telling of the tale on the Jersey Devil and exemplified for me the lasting impact that haunted mythic characters can make on younger audiences.

Text: “In 4th grade I learned about the Jersey Devil from my teacher. The story involved this lady who had 7 kids and fell pregnant. It was a painful pregnancy and when she had the kid it was demonic and went into the fireplace, came out of the chimney and haunts New Jersey to this day. When I heard about this I was terrified of going to New Jersey but my family friends were having a New Years eve party in New Jersey and my parents forced me to go and I was terrified the entire car ride over.”

Analysis: I believe this testimony illustrates the emotional and psychological impact that folklore can have on young minds. The Jersey Devil has eerie supernatural elements whilst still being tied to an existing geographical location. GP’s reaction to the story induced a real fear of the state of New Jersey. Additionally the introduction of the legend from a teacher, a figure of authority, amplifies the credibility for children and the fear being experienced as it seems true.

“The Legend of the Jersey Devil”

by Grace Robinson

“In New Jersey During 2020 I was incredibly bored and depressed with my friends, and there’s this website called ‘Paranormal NJ” which has all these places in New Jersey that apparently are spooky and I went to almost all of them – one of them pertains to the Legend of the Jersey Devil “

She touched on what she’d heard about this creature, having grownup in New Jersey, but she admitted it wasn’t extensive knowledge. She told me that it was a folk legend about a beast closely linked with the Devil. It is apparently known for its number of chilling encounters with those who visit the Pinelands of NJ, appearing demon like and devilish in stature, and dark in nature.

“we were so scared and [my friends and I] ran around in this maze in the Pinelands of NJ and unfortunately we didn’t see it, but we heard other people screaming and saying they saw it or heard it, a lot of people said it’s screams sound like evil giggling.”

Though many people, including my informant, were fearful of this demonic creature, there is still an apparent level of intrigue in spotting the monster. The fear and anxieties regarding this creature haven’t overwhelmed the need to satisfy a curiosity for these hopeful viewers, which reminds me immediately of the legend of Bigfoot or Sasquatch. These legends haven’t been proven, but can’t quite be disproven, therefore they remain as long as it maintains their levels of intrigue and belief.

Roaming Soldier


Y: Okay. So, um, I grew up in New Jersey. The town was, like, very colonial. Very like, it was like from the colonial times and like that’s when people started moving there. And just- so we had a tavern and they always find oysters and whatnot around it. But anyway, so this redcoat was staying in the tavern’s hotel room, like in one of the rooms and then he, he was murdered, they offed him. And so <laugh>, um, legend has it. They’re like still haunted and I forget what the name of the class was called, but in fifth grade we had the owner of the house come talk to us about her experience living there. And so she says like, “oh yeah, no, it’s, haunted it like homeboy comes up and down the stairs.” 

Me: So was she like a descendant or was she a whole other person? 

Y: No, just a whole other person. Okay. She just lives in the, I think they bought it like 20 something years ago, but it’s like, it’s like a historical registered, like, and so, yeah, legend has it that this murdered soldier goes around the halls and it was like right next to my elementary school. 

Me: Do you know what experiences they’ve had? 

Y: There’s like, um, she’s talked about homeboy, like on the stairs, like she’ll hear them creaking randomly, and then something with the shutters too, like closing the shutters. 

Me: Does she hear it or do the shutters actually close? 

Y: Hears it.

Me: So it’s all auditory? 

Y: Yeah. 

Background: Y is a 20 year old who was born and raised in New Jersey. She now resides in Los Angeles, California. 

Context: This story was told to me at a hangout among friends.Analysis: I liked this story because of its universality. The tavern that Y speaks of doesn’t have a specific name that sticks in the memory of the teller. She wasn’t even sure what city/town the tavern was in. Instead, the part of the story that stuck in her mind for all of these years was that a man was murdered in the building and now haunts it. The story, as it was passed around and as time moved on, was distilled into its most basic form.

Moth Man

Background: Informant was born and raised in California, right outside of Los Angeles. I was told this story in person.

Informant: Alright, so… the legend of the moth man is that people see him…it? On the street at night, in like, unlit country roads in New Jersey. They just see these glowing eyes. Ummm, and uh yeah. People would see these eyes and see it as an omen that they would crash afterwards or something like that. It was like… only people driving would see it. 

Me: Interesting… do you have any connection to New Jersey or?

Informant: Hellllll no. I think I just picked it up from somewhere, I just know some weird stuff.

Thoughts: These superstitions and ghost stories are the ones that affect me the most, personally. Something about the unknown and the dark always have a bigger affect, since it’s always in the dark and later at night where it’s easy to fabricate things and see things. I wonder if the “glowing lights” seen by people were headlights of other cars, or eyes of animals that are getting reflected from their own headlights, and it’s right before they crash. It’s always interesting to think about the tricks that your brain will play on you in those situations, and almost even more interesting to think about what those tricks may be in reality.

The Jersey Devil


KJ: “The Jersey Devil is like a donkey, kind of, with sharp teeth and bat wings. It also has legs. And it’s supposed to be really big. And I feel like it’s very much a big foot thing, like you’ll see it in the woods. It’s like a devil-dinosaur-goat thing. I feel like a New Jersey Big Foot is a good way to describe the lore surrounding it.”


The informant is a 19-year-old college student from Montclair, New Jersey. KJ described the legend of the Jersey Devil as being commonly known among people from New Jersey and remembers hearing about it from her peers, but also remembers reading about it in a magazine called ‘Weird NJ.’ Though she doesn’t know of any specific ways that the monster is supposed to attack or hurt those who see it, she remembers her peers in middle school stoking vague fears that “the Jersey Devil is going to get you.” KJ claimed that she and her friends ran from the Jersey Devil after seeing it in a public park when she was in eighth grade and describes it as a “lanky” figure with “smoke coming out of its face.” Though she thinks she probably imagined the figure, her friends similarly remember seeing it and they have not been able to explain it.


The Jersey Devil is a pervasive legend which may trace all the way back to 18th century colonial New Jersey. Brian Regal describes a popular mythic origin story of the monster, which is that a witch called Mother Leeds gave birth to “a ‘child’ with horse-like head, bat-like wings, clawed hands and hooved feet” (Regal 79). He argues that this legend arose from conflict between New Jersey Quakers and Daniel Leeds, the patriarch of a Quaker family who published a book called ‘The Temple of Wisdom for the Little World’ in 1688 which promoted belief in a peculiar cosmology, an amalgamation of “theology and the budding Scientific Revolution” which “included sections on angels, natural magic, astrology, theology, philosophy, and the behavior of devils” (Regal 90). Quakers disapproved of Leeds’ philosophy and public espousal of secular or untraditional faith or magic. Regal argues that the public controversy surrounding Leeds’ work, persona, and unconventional beliefs led to the creation of the Jersey Devil.

            While the origins of this legend have to do with Christianity, I don’t think that the Jersey Devil speaks to contemporary fears about religious deviance and alternative faiths. As with legends like Big Foot, people enjoy the mystery of the creature, hearing stories about sightings and arguing about its existence. Moreover, the legend’s long history and specificity to the state makes it a part of New Jersey culture which people can identify with and bond over. The legend is extremely popular, with the state’s football team being named The New Jersey Devils.

Just as La Llorona can be interpreted as warning children to be safe around bodies of water, it’s possible that the Jersey Devil sends a message about safety. The legends popularity among children and adolescents, during periods when individuals are afforded new independence, could speak to fears of encountering dangers one can encounter alone in the world. One could argue that the figure implicitly promotes that young people be cautious among strangers and in dangerous places such as the woods.


“The Jersey Devil.” Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained, edited by Una McGovern, Chambers Harrap, 1st edition, 2007. Credo Reference, https://libproxy.usc.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/chambun/the_jersey_devil/0?institutionId=887. Accessed 26 Apr. 2022.

For another description of the Jersey Devil, consult page 79 of this source:

Regal, Brian. “‘The Jersey Devil: A Political Animal.’” New Jersey Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, 2015, pp. 79–103., https://doi.org/10.14713/njs.v1i1.13.