In Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia, the Jersey Devil or the Leeds Devil is a legendary creature said to inhabit the Pine Barrens of South Jersey. The creature is often described as a flying biped with hooves, but there are many variations. The common description is that of a kangaroo-like or wyvern-like creature with a goat- or horse-like head, leathery bat-like wings, horns, small arms with clawed hands, legs with cloven hooves, and a forked tail. It has been reported to move quickly and is often described as emitting a high-pitched "blood-curdling scream"
According to popular folklore, the Jersey Devil originated with a Pine Barrens resident named Jane Leeds, known as Mother Leeds. The legend states that Mother Leeds had 12 children and, after finding she was pregnant for the 13th time, cursed the child in frustration, crying that the child would be the devil. During 1735, Mother Leeds was in labor on a stormy night while her friends gathered around her. Born as a normal child, the thirteenth child changed to a creature with hooves, a goat's head, bat wings, and a forked tail. Growling and screaming, it beat everyone with its tail before flying up the chimney and heading into the pines. In some versions of the tale, Mother Leeds was supposedly a witch and the child's father was the devil himself. Some versions of the legend also state that there was subsequently an attempt by local clergymen to exorcise the creature from the Pine Barrens.
Prior to the early 1900s, and before the series of reported sightings of the creature during 1909, the Jersey Devil was referred to as the Leeds Devil or the Devil of Leeds, either in connection with the local Leeds family or the southern New Jersey town, Leeds Point.
"Mother Leeds" has been identified by some as Deborah Leeds, on grounds that Deborah Leeds' husband, Japhet Leeds, named twelve children in the will he wrote during 1736, which is compatible with the legend. Deborah and Japhet Leeds also lived in the Leeds Point section of what is now Atlantic County, New Jersey, which is commonly the location of the Jersey Devil story.
Brian Regal, a historian of science at Kean University, theorizes that the story of Mother Leeds, rather than being based on a single historical person, originated from colonial southern New Jersey religiopolitical disputes that became the subject of folklore and gossip among the local population. According to Regal, folk legends concerning these historical disputes evolved through the years and ultimately resulted in the modern popular legend of the Jersey Devil during the early 20th century. Regal contends that "colonial-era political intrigue" involving early New Jersey politicians, Benjamin Franklin, and Franklin's rival almanac publisher Daniel Leeds resulted in the Leeds family being described as "monsters", and it was Daniel Leeds' negative description as the "Leeds Devil", rather than any actual creature, that created the later legend of the Jersey Devil.
Much like the Mother Leeds of the Jersey Devil myth, Daniel Leeds' third wife had given birth to nine children, a large number of children even for the time. Leeds' second wife and first daughter had both died during childbirth. As a royal surveyor with a strong allegiance to the British crown, Leeds had also surveyed and acquired land in the Egg Harbor area, located within the Pine Barrens. The land was inherited by Leeds' sons and family and is now known as Leeds Point, one of the areas in the Pine Barrens currently most associated with the Jersey Devil legend and alleged Jersey Devil sightings.
In West Virginia, the Mothman is a creature reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area from November 12, 1966, to December 15, 1967. The first newspaper report was published in the Point Pleasant Register dated November 16, 1966. The national press soon picked up the reports and helped spread the story across the United States.
The Mothman was introduced to a wider audience by Gray Barker in 1970 and later popularized by John Keel in his 1975 book The Mothman Prophecies, claiming that there were supernatural events related to the sightings and a connection to the collapse of the Silver Bridge.
On November 12, 1966, five men who were digging a grave at a cemetery near Clendenin, West Virginia, claimed to have seen a man-like figure fly low from the trees over their heads. This is often identified as the first known sighting of what became known as the Mothman.
Shortly thereafter, on November 15, 1966, two young couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve, and Mary Mallette told police they saw a large grey creature whose eyes "glowed red" when the car's headlights picked it up. They described it as a "large flying man with ten-foot wings", following their car while they were driving in an area outside of town known as "the TNT area", the site of a former World War II munitions plant.
During the next few days, other people reported similar sightings. Two volunteer firemen who saw it said it was a "large bird with red eyes". Mason County Sheriff George Johnson commented that he believed the sightings were due to an unusually large heron he termed a "shitepoke". Contractor Newell Partridge told Johnson that when he aimed a flashlight at a creature in a nearby field its eyes glowed "like bicycle reflectors", and blamed buzzing noises from his television set and the disappearance of his German Shepherd dog on the creature.
After the December 15, 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge and the death of 46 people, the incident gave rise to the legend and connected the Mothman sightings to the bridge collapse.
Point Pleasant held its first Annual Mothman Festival in 2002. The Mothman festival began after brainstorming creative ways for people to visit Point Pleasant. The group organizing the event chose the Mothman to be the center of the festival due to its uniqueness, and as a way to celebrate its local legacy in the town.
According to the event organizer, Jeff Wamsley, the average attendance for the Mothman is an estimated 10-12 thousand people per year.
A 12-foot-tall metallic statue of the creature, created by artist and sculptor Bob Roach, was unveiled in 2003. The Mothman Museum and Research Center opened in 2005. The festival is held on the third weekend of every September, hosting guest speakers, vendor exhibits, pancake-eating contests, and hayride tours of locally notable areas.
In June of 2020, a petition was started to replace all Confederate statues in the United States with statues of Mothman. As of July 2020, the petition has garnered over 2,000 signatures.
The thunderbird is a legendary creature in certain North American indigenous peoples' history and culture. It is considered a supernatural being of power and strength. It is especially important, and frequently depicted, in the art, songs and oral histories of many Pacific Northwest Coast cultures, but is also found in various forms among some peoples of the American Southwest, East Coast of the United States, Great Lakes, and Great Plains.
Tribal signatures using thunderbirds on the Great Peace of Montreal.
In Algonquian mythology, the thunderbird controls the upper world while the underworld is controlled by the underwater panther or Great Horned Serpent. The thunderbird throws lightning at the underworld creatures and creates thunder by flapping its wings. Thunderbirds in this tradition are commonly depicted as having an X-shaped appearance. This varies from a simple X to recognizable birds. The X-shaped thunderbird is often used to depict the thunderbird with its wings alongside its body and the head facing forwards instead of in profile.
Thunderbirds carved in sandstone wall at Twin Bluff, Juneau County, Wisconsin, by the prehistoric artists
The Menominee of Northern Wisconsin tells of a great mountain that floats in the western sky on which dwell the thunderbirds. They control the rain and hail and delight in fighting and deeds of greatness. They are the enemies of the great horned snakes or the Misikinubik and have prevented these from overrunning the earth and devouring mankind. They are messengers of the Great Sun himself.
The Ojibwe version of the myth states that the thunderbirds were created by Nanabozho for the purpose of fighting the underwater spirits. They were also used to punish humans who broke moral rules. The thunderbirds lived in the four directions and arrived with the other birds in the springtime. In the fall they migrated south after the ending of the underwater spirits' most dangerous season.