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URECAT - UFO Related Entities Catalog

URECAT is a formal catalog of UFO related entities sightings reports with the goal of providing quality information for accurate studies of the topic. Additional information, corrections and reviews are welcome at patrick.gross@inbox.com, please state if you wish to be credited for your contribution or not. The main page of the URECAT catalog is here.

January 16, 1909, Woodbury, New Jersey, USA, Thack Cozzens:

Brief summary of the event and follow-up:

In "Jersey Devil" literature and one UFO website, short reports say that on Saturday, January 16, 1909, Thack Cozzens, leaving the Woodbury Hotel, ot its bar, encountered the Jersey Devil. The most complete summary cites the witness:

"I heard a hissing and something white flew across the street. I saw two spots of phosphorus - the eyes of the beast. There was a white cloud, like escaping steam from an engine. It moved as fast as an auto."

Some sources say it was in the morning, other say it was in the night, no original source is given.

Basic information table:

Case number: URECAT-001505
Date of event: January 16, 1909
Earliest report of event: 1909?
Delay of report: Day, weeks, decades?
Witness reported via: Not known.
First alleged record by: Not known. Newspaper?
First certain record by: "Jersey Devil" book.
First alleged record type: Not known. Newspaper?
First certain record type: "Jersey Devil" book.
This file created on: April 3, 2013
This file last updated on: April 3, 2013
Country of event: USA
State/Department: New Jersey
Type of location: Street.
Lighting conditions: Day or night.
UFO observed: No
UFO arrival observed: N/A
UFO departure observed: N/A
UFO/Entity Relation: None
Witnesses numbers: 1
Witnesses ages: Not reported.
Witnesses types: Not reported. Male.
Photograph(s): No.
Witnesses drawing: No.
Witnesses-approved drawing: No.
Number of entities: 1
Type of entities: Not reported
Entities height: Not reported
Entities outfit type: Not reported.
Entities outfit color: Not reported or white.
Entities skin color: Not reported or white.
Entities body: Not reported. Something white.
Entities head: Not reported.
Entities eyes: Yes. Two spots of phosphorus.
Entities mouth: Not reported.
Entities nose: Not reported.
Entities feet: Not reported.
Entities arms: Not reported.
Entities fingers: Not reported.
Entities fingers number: Not reported.
Entities hair: Not reported.
Entities voice: None reported.
Entities actions: Flew at 1909 car speed across the street.
Entities/witness interactions: None.
Witness(es) reactions: Observed.
Witness(es) feelings: Not reported or hissing.
Witness(es) interpretation: Not reported.
Explanation category: Confusion, bird, or invention.
Explanation certainty: Medium.



The authors say that on Saturday, January 16, 1909, Thack Cozzens, leaving the Woodbury Hotel, encountered the Jersey Devil. He said:

"I heard a hissing and something white flew across the street. I saw two spots of phosphorus - the eyes of the beast. There was a white cloud, like escaping steam from an engine. It moved as fast as an auto."

The authors says that nobody knows whether the Bristol sightings occurred before or after the lone sighting in Woodbury.


The authors say that Thack Cozzens, of Woodbury, was perhaps the first recorded eyewitness to the "Jersey Devil" in the eerie week that started on January 16, 1909. In the night of January 16, he saw it as a strange creature, emitting steam. It flew above the street, looked by with phosphorescent eyes that Cozzen said were "the eyes of the beast", disappeared, but was seen several times in Bristol too.

[Ref. jg1:] JOSE G. GONZALES:

The author says that in the morning of January 16, 1909, Thack Cozzens, of Woodbury, New Jersey, saw a Demon with reflecting eyes in the street.

[Ref. dj1:] DAVE JULIANO:

Dave Juliano indicates that early Sunday morning, January 16, 1909, Thack Cozzens of Woodbury, New Jersey, saw a flying creature with glowing eyes flying down the street.

The author mentions many other encounters and discusses various theories on the "Jersey Devil". Please refer to his article for a complete read and references cited.

He says Mrs. Cassidy of Clayton thought it was an invasion of scrowfoot ducks, but this bird is much too small to fit [I certainly agree.] He says others believe the devil "is really a sand hill crane, a bird that used to live in South Jersey until it was pushed out by man. The sand hill crane weighs about 12 lbs., is 4 foot high, and has a wingspan of 80 inches. It avoids man but if confronted it will fight. It has a loud scream whooping voice that can be heard at a distance. This could account for the screams heard by witnesses. The crane also eats potatoes and corn. This could account for the raids on crops." [This is in my opinion the correct explanation for many of the Jersey devil sightings]. The author notes that this theory doesn't explain the killing of livestock or why people described the devil as having a horses head, bat wings and tail, all of which the crane doesn't have.

One Professor Bralhopf said that "the tracks were made by some prehistoric animal form the Jurassic period" that survived underground in a cavern. An expert from the Smithsonian Institute had a theory about ancient creatures surviving underground and said the Jersey Devil was a Pterodactyl. The Academy of Natural Sciences could find no record of any creature, living or extinct, that resembles the Jersey Devil.

Jack E. Boucher, author of Absagami Yesteryear, has a theory in which he believes the devil was a deformed child. He thinks a Mrs. Leeds had a disfigured child and kept it locked away in the house. She grew sick and couldn't feed the child anymore, so it escaped out of hunger and raided local farms for food, but this doesn't take into account the incredible life span of the devil; the child would have been 174 years old in 1909. It also doesn't account for the sightings of the devil flying.

Only a small amount of the sightings and footprints could be hoaxes [Said because cryptozoologist Ivan Sanderson showed some of the footprints were part of some real estate scan]. The Jersey Devil has been seen by reliable people such as police, government officials, postmasters, businessman, and other people whose "integrity is beyond question." Some of the hoof prints may have been hoaxes but most of the tracks are unexplained, especially the ones on roof tops and tracks that ended abruptly as if the creature took wing [Not hoaxes but evidence of a bird like the sandhill crane.].

Another theory is that the Jersey Devil was "the very essence of evil, embodied", that appears before any great conflict. The Jersey devil was sighted before the start of the Civil War. It was also seen right before the Spanish American War and WW I. In 1939, before the start of WW II, Mount Holly citizens were awakened by the noise of hooves on their roof tops. The Devil was seen on December 7, 1941, right before Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was also seen right before the Vietnam War.

Another theory said that Mother Leeds was a witch and the devil was a result of a witches curse. When Commodore Decatur fired a cannon ball at the devil, it went through him and he was unaffected.

The author concludes that whether the Jersey devil is a bird or a demon, is still left ot speculation.


The writer tells of the Jersey Devil sightings from January 16 to 22, 1909, 100 years ago, refering to the 1976 book "The Jersey Devil" by James F. McCloy and Ray Miller Jr.

He says the Devil was chased and hissed at a hotel patron in Woodbury - who was leaving a bar at the time, so you just know he was telling the truth.

[Ref. uf1:] "UFO FYI" WEBSITE:

(Wikipedia) [...] It all started early Sunday morning, January 16, 1909. Thack Cozzens of Woodbury, NJ, saw a flying creature with glowing eyes flying down the street. [...]

Points to consider:

Before discussing this particular case, I must make some general remarks about what was called the "Jersey Devil".

In Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, for nearly two centuries at least, some people give reports of encounters with a "creature" whose descriptions suggested that it was some sort of "devil", though in my opinion it was often merely a large bird in migration there, the sandhill crane.

Ufologically, these stories are mostly not considered as related in any way with UFOs or UFO occupants, in my opinion too they should not be part of a catalog of "close encounters of the third kind".

However, some ufologists included such stories in such catalogs, thinking for some reason it does have something to do with the UFO question. Most of the time, they do not include all the Jersey Devil reports, but only a few of them, maybe due to lack of documentation or maybe for some other reason I do not understand.

So I have to include all these stories, because if some source considers, rightly or wrongly, that this a UFO-related, then it is within my scope, not to immediately and arbitrarily disregard their idea, but to evaluate it, and thus to collect the documentation and the comments about it. And therefore, I have to check and document all reported, not just those selected arbitrarily by these ufologists who believed this is UFO material. This is why you cans see I have a file for each Jersey Devil reports, even those that were never included in the ufology literature.

I should note that most stories are fragmentary, often because the sources write about several observations, and what is said about one report is supposed to be implicitly true for the others. I do not do it that way; I publish case files individually and discuss each on its own merits or issues, and offer a specific assessment for each case. But of course, generalities can be said on these reports. As I do not want to disconnect individual reports from these generalities, I make the following notes.

I want to first list the various explanations offered for the "Jersey Devil" - they could apply its late equivalent the West Virginia "Mothman" which was introduced in UFO books the 1960s:

Now let's see this report.

The witness did not seem to say much - unless it was silenced in the modern sources. There is no description of the shape or nature of what he saw, just "something white".

We do not know if it was in the day or night.

The "white cloud" is of course a strange feature. No bird would emit a cloud. Maybe there was a white cloud but it was not related to the "creature", this is not clearly specified.

The "phosphorus" eyes are compatible with many birds, the white owl Tito Alba or another bird of the owl family, but also the sandhill crane (below) - a likely explanation for many "Jersey Devil" reports:

List of issues:

Id: Topic: Severity: Date noted: Raised by: Noted by: Description: Proposal: Status:
1 Data Severe April 3, 1909 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Primary source not available and not known. Help needed. Opened.
2 Ufology Severe April 3, 1909 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Missing data, sighting conditions, distance, duration. Help needed. Opened.
3 Ufology Severe April 3, 1909 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Witness report seems incomplete, only brief quote. Help needed. Opened.
4 Ufology Severe April 3, 1909 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Single witness case. Help needed. Opened.
5 Ufology Severe April 3, 1909 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross No sign of investigation or checking. Help needed. Opened.


Confusion, bird, or invention.

Sources references:

* = Source I checked.
? = Source I am told about but could not check yet. Help appreciated.

Document history:


Main Author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history

Version: Created/Changed By: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross April 3, 2013 Creation, [mm1], [mm2], [jg1], [dj1], [sl1], [uf1].
1.0 Patrick Gross April 3, 2013 First published.

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This page was last updated on April 3, 2013.