The Pine Barrens in southern New Jersey are home to many creatures large and small, though the most infamous is perhaps the Jersey Devil. Born as the thirteenth child to Mother Leeds on a rainy night in 1735, the child was said to belong to the Devil himself. The child was said to have sprouted bat wings and murdered the midwife assisting the birth before escaping up the chimney. It was rumored that a local clergyman exorcised the demon in 1740 for 100 years, and the Jersey Devil was not spotted again until 1880. It is described as a flying biped with hooves, though many variations exist and it’s appearance is often unclear. It supposedly has a head like a horse, goat horns, hooves, legs like a bird, and bat wings. Some speculate that, while Mother Deborah Leeds did exist, the Jersey Devil came about from negative portrayals of New Jersey politicians. Another theory is that the rumors were born from a rivalry between Benjamin Franklin and Daniel Leeds. The Leeds homestead did exist, and Deborah and her husband Japhet cited 12 children in a will in 1736, though it is unclear if a 13th child was ever born. Despite claims of the Jersey Devil being demonic, it is still widely regarded by researchers and other believers to be a cryptid.
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