For some really fantastic pictures, artists depictions of the Devil of Leeds, check out this google search (be sure to right-click tho' or you'll depart from the page/blog here.
Google Search on "Leeds Devil."
Now, if you've followed the link in a new browser window, you should have Google Images as a top link. Continue r-clicks to view some of these pictures! The link "Image results for leeds devil" should just open up a large page with THE most varied depictions of a much-talked-about creature as you've ever seen.
I've researched some on the Dover Demon, Springheeled Jack, even the Mothman but with all of these, most eyewitnesses and research enthusiasts into those phenomena closely AGREE on what these entities look like. Not so with our Leeds Devil!
Otherwise known as The Jersey Devil. This Jersey Devil has been a legend for at least 250 years. As far as urban legends go, the time and place where the Jersey Devil was "born" is perfect!
Time: 250+ years ago when record-keeping of births, deaths, life events wasn't all that well done. Also - before the conveniences of phones, computers, easily accesible motor vehicles, etc like we have nowadays.
Place: somewhere in the vicinity of Pine Barrens (or somewhere near Smithfield), New Jersey - a heavily forested area along coastal southern New Jersey, U.S.A. Perfect - but let me give you a little more background here...
The area was/is called "barrens" because the soil SUCKS...it's highly acidic, quite sandy, and has poor nutrients. Though a ton of trees obviously grow there, a lot are a pygmy 'pitch pine,' just generally a hardy type of tree. Guess what else grows in the barrens?
CARNIVOROUS PLANTS.... ewwwe! So anyhow - once I learned this, it took me about 12 seconds to think about this far-stretching expanse of pines, "barren" of most 'common' sort of plants or useful plants - and a bunch of carnivorous variety of plants...and it was easy to understand the awe with which people 250 years ago must have lived.
It sounds like a very hostile environment without the flesh-eating plants, too, eh? Chances are, in "the olden days," back before science took North America by storm - when the land was largely still being 'settled' and 'broken,' the average person would likely be very frightened in the dense pines and with 'strange-behaving' plant species around.
Anyway - 'way back around 1735, with no comforts like we are used to - in a hostile, earthy environment, there was a woman living near "Leeds Point," who along with her very large family, was very impoverished. She had a dozen children already and lo' and behold - found out she was pregnant with her 13th bundle of joy.
Legend has it that she was overwhelmed with this pregnancy and she CURSED the child right off - "To The Devil With This Child!" or "Give This One To The Devil!" - so that when it was born it turned into a horrific creature.
Apparently, for the first few minutes of his/its life, the child appeared relatively normal - but not for very long...within scant moments, the child morphed into an ugly thing, and flew up and out the chimney...
Of course - that's just one version of the legend.
Other versions have the woman as a Mrs Shrouds who lived in Leeds Point, NJ - hence the title, "Mrs Leeds."
Some versions have the child being born with forked tail, horns on its head and wings. Also, with a horse-shaped head. Some versions don't have a definite description of the child. This cursed child is just said to have been born all deformed and misshapen. In most versions, the newborn child slinks away or flies away right after its birth, but in a few stories, Mother Leeds keeps her child for a little while, though the infant is deformed. She's shunned and feared by her community and keeps her child mainly sheltered inside at all times - partly worried that the Pine Barrens/Leeds community will kill him/it. In this version, however, with no real reference to how old the child grows to be while Mother Leeds is hiding it away, it is said to have suddenly flapped its wings and flown off!
That last paragraph has about 4 versions of mixed details but really - there are just so many versions of the Leeds Devil story - it's hard to keep track of things.
Some say the child was a product of union between an underaged girl during the Revolutionary War - and a British soldier she fell in love with. In this version, it is the people of Leeds who cause the troubles. They curse the girl for her horrific transgression - and when the child is born, it is born a devil. Either the transgression of the girl - or - the terrible treatment by the Leeds-folk is said to have caused the devil to be born.
There are versions which say the birth happened in Burlington, NJ. Versions hail from Estelville NJ., and the exact place where the Jersey Devil was born is hard to track down.
There are even discrepancies on which numbered child the Jersey Devil was. Some say the 10th child, others, the 6th child, the 8th or the 12th. The favourite number seems, however, to be 13 - another reason to call this Leeds child a devil - superstition over the number 13.
Here's a cool site with some information connected to a funky map
"Here's the map." (r-click and let the page load - it's an interesting site and a cool way to navigate!)
It's the "monsterlore" website. Just move your cursor/mouse around the map and over the placemarker dots. You might have to drag the square around in the left-hand corner first. Anyhow - everywhere there's a little yellow dot, there's a legend or a monster story attached to that place on the map. Naturally, I found the one for "Jersey Devil" by clicking the dot on the very far right - which highlighted as "Leeds PT."
So, once I had read the Monsterlore article, I got messing around with Google searches and found those incredibly varied pictures.
I still have at least a dozen windows open, browsing photos but I wanted to give you those two cool links and blog a little about one of my fave legends, the Leeds Devil.
Let me know if you had fun with the map, eh? Also - let me know what your fave legend is at that site. I'm slowly working through the articles over there - there are A LOT of them!