NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. III, No. 2, Summer, 1947
THE JERSEY DEVIL AND OTHER LEGENDS OF THE JERSEY SHORE
Henry Charlton Beck
IT IS always a source of amazement to me when someone
turns up who admits a total ignorance of The Jersey Devil,
New Jersey’s most celebrated—and most maligned—phantom
of the shore. I grew up in an area of New Jersey where The Jersey
Devil was accepted as very real and usually blamed for everything
strange that happened. If a farmer discovered peculiar footprints
in his dooryard, if someone heard weird cries hooted down a
country chimney, or if a petty theft lacked a customary explanation,
The Jersey Devil was always given the newspaper headlines
as the culprit responsible.
As a result, the Jersey Devil became almost exclusively associated
with newspapermen who rarely checked their imagination
or who, for lack of any real news on a dull day, dreamed up a
highly colorful tale. It was not until I came upon people along
the New Jersey Coast who spoke with reverence of Leeds’s Devil,
mostly associated with an almost forgotten village of pre-Revolutionary
days, that I realized suddenly that once, truly enough,
there was a Jersey Devil. ...
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