In the January 29, 1909 edition of his Milton News letter, David A. Conner reported on the latest outbreak of hysteria in southern New Jersey concerning a creature called–appropriately enough–the “Jersey Devil.” This bird-like biped with hooves had been sighted numerous times since the 18th century in southern New Jersey, and was first sighted in the Milton area in 1875. After a week’s worth of hundreds of sightings in its home state from January 16 -23, 1909, the creature had crossed the Delaware and was returning to its old haunts at Drawbridge, on the Broadkill. At least one Milton man – Pete Donovan, once committed to Farnhurst after shooting at ghosts – was prepared to go after it.
The sightings were reported in dozens of newspapers, large and small, across the entire country. The physical description grew stranger and stranger as the sightings continued well into the fall of 1909. An Allentown, PA newspaper, after interviewing a man who had supposedly captured one, described the creature as “half bear and half kangaroo” and worth going to see on exhibit – once a suitable cage had been found for it. Milton residents thought it to have a single, hoofed leg. The Philadelphia Bulletin published the artist’s conception at left.
A few decades later, Orson Welles’ radio broadcast of the War of the Worlds would provoke an even greater round of hysteria in the Garden State.