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Sightings of the Devil
February 2002

Over the years many people have seen the Jersey Devil. It has been seen all over New Jersey, not just in the Pine Barrens where it was born. People often see the Devil flying and screeching. People also see the Devil's hoof prints, which look like those of no other creature known to man.

In the early 1800s, Joseph Bonaparte, a former King of Spain, saw the Devil in the woods while he was hunting. In another sighting, a group of men chased the Devil to the edge of the woods in Clayton, but they were afraid to follow him further. Commodore Stephen Decatur was testing cannon balls when he saw the Jersey Devil fly above him. He fired a cannon ball and hit the Devil, but the creature was not hurt and kept flying.

The Devil was also seen with a ghost! Captain Kidd buried his treasure in Barnegat Bay and beheaded one of his crew so that the man's ghost would stay there to watch it. People have seen the headless pirate and the Jersey Devil walking on the beach and marshes. They have also seen the Jersey Devil swimming with a mermaid.

The most sightings of the Jersey Devil occurred during one week in January, 1909. Over 1,000 people in New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania saw the Devil. Early Sunday morning, people in Burlington started to see the Devil on the street and flying through the air. They later found strange hoof prints in the snow.

Other people began to find hoof prints from the Devil on trees, roofs, and in the middle of the road. A group of men tried to find the Devil, but their dogs were too scared to follow the hoof prints. Later in the week the Devil was seen in Trenton and New Brunswick. Guards with guns rode on the trolleys to watch for the Jersey Devil.

By the end of the week the newspapers had written many stories about the Devil, and people were scared. Schools and factories were closed in Gloucester because no one would come in. Eventually, people saw less of the Devil, and life began to get back to normal.

Since that week in 1909, people have continued to see the Jersey Devil, though not as much. People still find strange hoof prints and hear screeching coming from nearby woods. Some say there are as many sightings of the Jersey Devil as before. They say people just don't report the sightings because they don't want to appear crazy.

Next: The Devil's Deeds

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