Throwback Thursday: Joseph Bonaparte and the Jersey Devil
Joseph Bonaparte, elder brother of Napoleon, and the ex-King of Spain, is said to have encountered the Jersey Devil in the 19th century. Bonaparte abdicated his throne in 1813 and went into exile in the United States, purchasing eight hundred acres of land near Bordentown, New Jersey. He was an avid deer hunter, and could often be found hunting in the woods on his property. During one such excursion, he came upon some rather remarkable tracks in the snow. The tracks--which seemed to end abruptly, as though whatever left them had suddenly taken flight--resembled nothing more than those that might be left by a donkey walking on its hind legs.
Bonaparte examined the tracks closely, unable to decide what could have made them, but was subsequently startled by the sound of loud hissing coming from behind him. He turned to face the strange noise, only to discover that a large, winged creature with a horse-like head was at his flank. He stared at the creature, dumbfounded, until it hissed at him again, and beat its wings, taking off into the air. Bonaparte was so surprised, in fact, that he forgot he had a rifle, and never thought to shoot at the beast.
When Bonaparte reported the experience to a friend, he was told that he'd encountered the famous Jersey Devil--a demonic being that had haunted the Pine Barrens since its unholy birth by Mrs. Leeds in 1735. The ex-King took heed, and was impressed enough by the legend--and his experience--that he looked for the monster thereafter, whenever he went hunting. Eventually, he left the U.S.A. to return to Europe, where he presumably never saw the Jersey Devil again.