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Encounters with the Jersey Devil?

In 1909, people all over New Jersey and surrounding states reported terrifying encounters with a very strange cryptid that has come to be known as the Jersey Devil. The first sightings were reported on the night of January 16/17. Before midnight, Thack Cozzens of Woodbury, NJ, was leaving the Woodbury Hotel when he heard a hissing sound and saw "something white fly across the street. I saw two spots of phosphorus, the eyes of the beast. There was a white cloud, like steam escaping from an engine…it moved as fast as an auto."
Sketch of the Jersey Devil from
the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin,
Jan. 1909
Later that night, at 2 AM on Sunday, Jan. 17, John McOwen of Bristol, PA, was awakened by the sound of his crying daughter. When he went to her room, he heard a strange noise coming from outside. He looked out and saw a creature that "looked something like an eagle, and it hopped along the tow-path."

Another Bristol resident, Officer James Sackville, saw the Jersey Devil shortly after McOwen. As he was walking toward Buckley Street, he heard dogs barking and spotted a winged creature that hopped like a bird, "had the creatures of some peculiar animal," and had a "horrible scream." Sackville ran toward the creature and fired at it, as it started to retreat, flying close to the ground until it shot upwards and out of sight.

The postmaster of Bristol, E.W. Minster, saw the Jersey Devil at about the same time as Sackville. He had gotten out of bed around two in the morning, unable to sleep. When he was in the bathroom splashing his face with cold water to cure his insomnia, he heard an "eerie, almost supernatural sound" coming from the creek outside.

He looked out the window and saw an amazing sight: a creature that "appeared to be a large crane, but was emitting a glow like a fire-fly." "Its head resembled that of a ram, with curled horns. It had a long, thin neck that was thrust forward in flight. It had long, thin wings and short legs; the front legs were shorter than the hind. Its cry started high but ended low and hoarse."

The following morning, other Bristol residents found their yards covered in strange hoof-prints.

Throughout the following week in January 1909, hundreds of witnesses reported seeing the Jersey Devil in multiple states. If anything really was seen remains unknown; this could be a perfect case of mass hysteria.


However, in 1977, Jonathan Lackey and his friend Bill saw something that some have likened to the Jersey Devil. They described a creature with a body like a doberman, four thin legs, feathered wings, and a prehensile tail. It also had point ears "like batman." The two watched the creature as it soared away over a hill. It also doesn't sound much like the Jersey Devil; instead, a very good description of a griffin. But was it a real report, of a hoax?
A griffin

This post is excerpted from portions of the Jersey Devil section in my 2015 book Cryptid U.S.: Tales of Bigfoot, Lake Monsters, and More from Across America.  Go to Amazon to check it out!


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