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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jersey Devil a.k.a Leeds Devil

-sometimes called the Leeds Devil
-is a legendary creature or said to inhabit the Pine Barrens in southern New Jersey
-the creatures is often described as a flying biped with hooves, but there are many
variations
-there are many possible origins of the Jersey Devil legend, though it has no basis
in Native American folklore, and is thought to be a creative manifestation of the
English settlers
-the aptly named Pine Barrens were shunned by most early settlers as a desolate,
threatening place
-being relatively isolated, the barrens were a natural refuge for those wanting to
remain hidden, including religious dissenters, loyalists, fugitives and military
deserters in colonial times. Such individuals formed solitary groups and were
pejoratively called "pineys", some of whom became notorious bandits known as "pine
robbers
-pineys were further demonized after two early twentieth century eugenics studies
depicted them as congenital idiots and criminals. It is easy to imagine early tales
of terrible monsters arising from a combination of sightings of genuine animals
such as bears, the activities of pineys, and fear of the barrens
-outdoorsman and author Tom Brown Jr spent several seasons living in the wilderness
of the Pine Barrens. He recounts occasions when terrified hikers mistook him for
the Jersey Devil, after he covered his whole body with mud to repel mosquitoes
-not surprisingly, the Jersey Devil legend is fueled by the various testimonials of
those who believed to have encountered the creature, from precolonial times to the
present day, as there are still reported sightings within the New Jersey area

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