In 1773, a legend spread throughout Philadelphia and the neighboring southern New Jersey that the “Leeds Devil” was loose on the massive woods known as the Pine Barrens. According to legend, a woman named “Mother Leeds” was having her 13th child, and she wished that the child would be a devil. After coming out of her womb, the child truly did transform into a winged creature with hooves, and it flew out the window into the dark night. For hundreds of years, the legend of the Jersey Devil has spooked residents of southern New Jersey who believe that the creature is still running a muck.
It turns out that this story was actually concocted by none other than Benjamin Franklin himself. The Leeds family was in direct competition to Franklin’s Farmer’s Almanac, and by spreading the rumor that Mr. Leeds was a drunk, and his wife gave birth to a demon, it ruined the family’s reputation. At a time when people still believed in superstitions and were very religious, it wasn’t that unbelievable that a demon could exist in the woods. Even in modern times, some people still believe that the Jersey Devil exists, and there have been several sightings throughout the years. Keep in mind that all of these are alleged encounters, and even if they are actually fairytales, we can still learn a lot of about folklore.
16. Napoleon’s Brother Joseph Bonaparte Spotted The Beast In the Winter of 1813
Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, Joseph, was the King of Spain, but he lost a war against the English during the Peninsula War, and he had to step down from his throne. So, where does a former king go to live out the rest of his days? New Jersey, of course. Actually, he first moved to New York City, and spent time in Philadelphia before he built a huge mansion in Bordentown, New Jersey, because it was located in-between both of those cities. The mansion was very similar to country estates in France with manicured gardens and lavish parties. It was so big, it had its own lake, and a winding road that went through the forest.
When he moved to New Jersey, he heard about the legend of the Jersey Devil. In the winter, he was left all alone in this country house, and he decided to go hunting in the woods on his property. He saw very strange tracks in the snow that were unlike any animal he had ever seen before. They looked like a donkey’s hooves, but there were only two feet, instead of four. When he turned around, he saw a huge creature with a horses’ head and wings. It screeched and flew over his head. He told the story to everyone he knew, swearing that it truly was the Jersey Devil.