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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Investigators Journal: The Jersey Devil


These are three case files of an ongoing investigation of the New Jersey Pinelands in search of the famed Jersey Devil.  

The Pinelands (Pine Barrens)

The Pinelands National Reserve is a vast paradise of nature. Created by Congress under the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978, the Pinelands National Reserve became the first nature preserve in the United States. Amazingly, this area encompasses approximately 1.1 million acres covering portions of seven counties and all or parts of 56 municipalities in the state of New Jersey, occupying 22% of New Jersey's land area. It is also said to be home to one of the most mysterious legends known to man.

The Legend
In 1735, a woman named Mother Leeds, who had already had 12 children, gave birth to a 13th child on a dark and stormy night. During labor she proclaimed, “May the Devil take this one,” and supposedly old Satan granted her wish. Much to the onlooker’s surprise, the baby turned into a monster with the head of a horse, the wings of a bat and cloven feet. The initial impression would be all they would see as the monster abruptly flew out up the chimney and disappeared into the dark wilderness of the Pine Barrens. To this day, no one has ever found Mother Leeds’ 13th child and it remains outside, haunting the Pine Barrens and terrorizing the local population for generations.

Case File I
Equipment Used:

Gateway DC-M42 Digital camera
Pentax Optio W10 Digital Camera

Leed’s Point
Comments:
Leed’s Point was the center of our initial investigation because it is the birthplace of the legend. In this area, two foundations exist that claim to be the actual birthplace. This is the absolute ground zero point for Jersey Devil enthusiasts, and a location where many “devil hunts” begin. To us, this was a natural starting point. The area that we focused on was inside of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, where more than 47,000 acres of southern New Jersey coastal habitats are actively protected and managed for migratory birds. Much of that land borders a moist salt marsh and provides plenty of coverage and an ample food supply. Ironically, there was something that was mysteriously missing during our visit, as we didn’t find one sign of any normal animal life being present. 

Over the years, there have been 25 individual recorded sightings in and around the village since 1894. These reports vary from full sightings to mysterious chicken deaths in three different years. 

In all, we did not find much during that trip other that a variety of old bottles (thousands) littering the area deep within the refuse and the remains of a bird near a location referenced by a research team who discovered numerous remains in the same region during an earlier investigation.

Case File II
Equipment Used:

Gateway DC-M42 Digital camera
Pentax Optio W10 Digital Camera
Sony Handycam HDR/CX100

Batsto Village
Comments:
Batsto Village is located in south-central Wharton State Forest. This small village was built on the site of a lake, which was formed by the creation of a dam in the late 1700's (not long after the legend of the Jersey Devil was born). Batsto River was used by boats to transport timber from the pines to the furnace at the village, which produced bog iron for the patriots in the battles against the British during the Revolutionary War. 

The state purchased the land inside of Batsto's borders in the 1950's, and the current residents were allowed to stay as long as they wished. The last house was vacated in 1989, and now the village remains a historical site. Batsto Village is located within the park and has had a number of sightings associated with it. Residing 12 miles from Leed’s Point, this area has great potential for the maintaining a habitat for the Jersey Devil, providing miles of coverage of uninhabited Pinelands and both a lake and a river. 

It is reported that there may be some relationship between Batsto and the Jersey Devil. The most widely held reason is a mysterious connection with fire. Historical accounts show that that the town was once destroyed by fire in 1874. Since 1963, there have been six individual recorded sightings in and around the village. These reports vary from full sightings to strange prints found in the loose sandy dirt that makes up the Pinelands. In all, we did not find any evidence during this. However, the mapping of the lake and outlying area may become useful during future investigations

Case File III

Equipment Used:

Gateway DC-M42 Digital camera
Pentax Optio W10 Digital Camera
Sony Handycam HDR/CX100

Leed’s Point
Comments:
For this investigation we focused on the Southern portion of Leed’s Point into and around the salt marshes (an area we were not able to reach during our initial trip). This land has changed quite a bit since our earlier visit with signs of animal life all around. In fact, unlike the first time, we could here birds and other wildlife all around the area.

This trip also provided some interesting discoveries. One area deep within the land showed a natural tree circle with a vine wreath hanging off a tree in the center. This area struck all of us as a ritual circle, a unique coincidence considering that some of the more obscure Jersey Devil legends claim that Mother Leed’s dabbled into the dark arts.

There was also a great deal of visual paranormal activity recorded in our pictures of the area including orbs, mists and vortexes within strange tree formations that appeared built rather than natural, although no signs of building were present. These findings, especially the ones that came directly after the entire teams experienced a strange smell, have definitely added a new arena in which to explore during future visits to the site.
Conclusion
While we did not obtain any solid evidence, the sporadic pieces of evidence we did retrieve show signs of activity in the location. Our feeling is that it is only a matter of time before definitive proof is found at the site.

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