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Col. Richard Somers Chapter, New Jersey Society, Sons of the American Revolution

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The Jersey Devil is a popular piece of North Eastern folklore.  It is widely believed to have been the demonic offspring of an eighteenth century character known as ‘Mother Leeds.’  It continues to be sighted and searched for to this day, has inspired television productions, and is the mascot of the state’s hockey team. 

 

Prof. Brian Regal, of Kean University, and author of Searching for Sasquatch, as well as a forth-coming book will be defending this proposal.  He joined us at the Smithville Inn on June 12, 2014 to present his views on our state demon.

 

Dr. Regal's research indicates that there is no physical evidence for the creature’s existence or that it was originally based upon a monstrous birth.  The literature on the subject—both print and on-line—rehashes old stories with little critical examination of sources.  To find the origins of the legend requires a complete reexamination of the story and a change in historical focus.  While the connection to the Leeds family is correct, it was not some fictional Mother Leeds, but the family patriarch Daniel Leeds and his son Titan who unwittingly became associated with the legend. 

 

The origin of the Jersey Devil is political rather than biological.  The story involves colonial era Quaker in-fighting, a family of almanac makers and religious heretics, a cross-dressing Royal governor, and Benjamin Franklin. 

 

Dr. Regal has graciously consented to allow us to share his presentation below.