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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 21 OR 22, 1909, CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY, USA, MARY SORBINSKI, PATROLMEN WILLIAM CROUCH AND THOMAS CUNNINGHAM:

Brief summary of the event and follow-up:

"Jersey Devil" literature indicates that on January 21 or 22, 1909, in Camden, New Jersey, USA, Mrs. Mary Sorbinski, of Mount Ephraim Avenue, heard loud strange noises in her backyard, seized a broom and ran out the back door to find her pet dog in the "vise-like grip" of a "horrible monster".

She swung the broom at the creature who dropped the dog and emitting sounds that resembled a combination of the "hoot of an owl" and the "snarl of a hyena" nearly struck Mrs. Sorbinski in its escape.

After carrying her wounded pet into the house, Mary Sorbinski began screaming. Her cries attracted a large crowd, including the Camden police. Suddenly the crowd heard high-pitched screams from the top of the standpipe on Kaighn Hill, and Patrolmen Thomas Cunningham and William Crouch ran toward the noises with the crowd at their heels.

The officers emptied their revolvers, or tried to shoot, at the creature, but once again the so-called "Devil" disappeared into the night.

One source specifies the Philadelphia press said the dog was nowhere to be found when Mrs. Sorbinski emerged from her house to see the Devil fly away, and that she looked for he dog later. Most source claim the dog had a chunk of its flesh ripped out.

Basic information table:

Case number: URECAT-001512
Date of event: January 21 or 22, 1909
Earliest report of event: January 1909?
Delay of report: Hours, days?
Witness reported via: Not known.
First alleged record by: Newspaper.
First certain record by: "Jersey Devil" book.
First alleged record type: Newspaper.
First certain record type: "Jersey Devil" book.
This file created on: July 11, 2013
This file last updated on: July 11, 2013
Country of event: USA
State/Department: New Jersey
Type of location: In city.
Lighting conditions: Not reported. Evening.
UFO observed: No
UFO arrival observed: N/A
UFO departure observed: N/A
UFO/Entity Relation: None
Witnesses numbers: 1, then 2 or more
Witnesses ages: Not reported. Adults.
Witnesses types: Housewife, patrolmen, people.
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 or none.
Entities outfit color: N/A.
Entities skin color: Not reported.
Entities body: Not reported.
Entities head: Not reported.
Entities eyes: Not reported.
Entities mouth: Not reported.
Entities nose: Not reported.
Entities feet: Not reported.
Entities arms: Not reported. Flies.
Entities fingers: Not reported.
Entities fingers number: Not reported.
Entities hair: Not reported.
Entities voice: Awful screeches, combination of the "hoot of an owl" and the "snarl of a hyena".
Entities actions: Attacks dog, flies away.
Entities/witness interactions: Attacks dog, flies away.
Witness(es) reactions: Observed, chased it with a broom. Opened fire at it.
Witness(es) feelings: Frightened.
Witness(es) interpretation: Not reported.
Explanation category: Probable bird. Not UFO-related.
Explanation certainty: High.

Narratives:

[Ref. mm3:] JAMES MCCLOY AND RAY MILLER:

These authors indicated that on January 22, 1909, in Camden, New Jersey, Mary Sorbiski [sic], of that city, bravely raised a broom against the "Jersey Devil" when she found it had caught her pet dog in its vice-like grip.

But the Philadelphia press said the dog was nowhere to be found when this Camden housewife emerged from her house to see the Devil fly away. She looked for he dog later.

[Ref. jc1:] JEROME CLARK:

Jerome Clark says that on January 22, 1909, in the morning, Mary Sorbinsky of Camden, New Jersey, heard her dog screaming, ran outside, and a huge creature rose up from the ground, and took flight. Mrs Sorbinsky reported it had taken out a chunk of her pet.

[Ref. mm2:] JAMES MCCLOY AND RAY MILLER:

These authors indicated that in Camden, New Jersey, on January 22, 1909, Mrs. Mary Sorbinski, who lived on Mount Ephraim Avenue, had heard loud, strange noises in her backyard. She seized a broom and ran out the back door to find her pet dog in the "vise-like grip" of a "horrible monster". With all her might, she swung the broom at the creature, who dropped the dog and, emitting sounds that resembled a combination of the "hoot of an owl" and the "snarl of a hyena" nearly struck Mrs. Sorbinski in its escape. After carrying her wounded pet into the house, Mary began screaming. Her cries attracted a large crowd, which included the Camden police. Suddenly the crowd heard high-pitched screams from atop the standpipe on Kaighn Hill, and Patrolmen Thomas Cunningham and William Crouch ran toward the noises with the crowd at their heels. The officers emptied their revolvers at the creature, but once again the "Devil" disappeared into the night.

[Ref. dh1:] "NEW JERSEY DEVILS HUNTERS":

Fri. 1/22

Camden, NJ

A woman, Mrs. Mary Sorbinski, became the first human to witness a Jersey Devil attack on another living creature. She heard a commotion in her backyard around 7pm, and upon remembering that her dog had been out there, immediately went to see the cause of the noise. She was stricken with shock and terror as she saw her dog in the "vice-like grip" of a "horrible monster!" Mrs. Sorbinski then began to smack at the creature with a broomstick, and it dropped her dog and began screaming its awful high pitched cries. The creature flew right at Mrs. Sorbinski, but at the last second changed direction and flew away. After it had gone, Mrs. Sorbinski carried her injured dog into the house to find that a chunk of its flesh had been ripped out. She became overwhelmed with fear and panic. Within an hour, the house was filled with neighbors, police officers, and others who were curious as to the night's incident. While the crowd had gathered, once more the Jersey Devil made its presence known at the Sorbinski residence by emitting its awful screeches. The police officers on scene attempted to fire at the creature, but to no avail. It eventually flew away. This entire incident caused a state-wide outbreak of panic and fear.

[Ref. ar1:] ALBERT ROSALES:

Albert Rosales indicates that in Camden, New Jersey, on January 22, 1909, in the morning, "Mary Sorbinsky ran outside after she heard her dog screaming. A huge creature rose up from the ground and took flight. It had taken, Mrs Sorbinsky reported, a chunk out of her pet."

Albert Rosales indicates that the source is "Jerome Clark, Unexplained!".

[Ref. ss1:] S. E. SCHLOSSER:

The Jersey Devil and the Dog

A New Jersey Legend

retold by

S.E. Schlosser

It was a week of pandemonium! In January of 1909, the Jersey Devil emerged from the Pine Barrens and began terrorizing the local communities, both in New Jersey and in Pennsylvania. Devil hunts failed to catch the flying creature, which danced on rooftops, stalked small animals, and frightened the good people of the area with its unexpected appearances in their yards and businesses. The newspapers carried the reports along with sketches of the unusual creature.

Mrs. Sorbinski, a resident of South Camden, followed the stories of the Jersey Devil with skepticism tempered with fear. She wasn't sure if a creature that resembled a dragon, with a head like a horse, a snake-like body and bat's wings could possibly exist. It seemed a lot of hokum to her, although several prominent people claimed to have encountered the critter.

Toward the end of the week, Mrs. Sorbinski discovered the truth about the Jersey Devil the hard way. Hearing a commotion in her yard, she hurried outside with a broom in hand. She was concerned for the safety of her dog-and with good reason. The pet, which had been left outside, was in the claws of a beast which resembled a dragon, with a head like a horse, a snake-like body and bat's wings. It was the Jersey Devil. Mrs. Sorbinski valiantly flailed at the Devil with her broom, trying to make the creature let go of her beloved pet. Upset by the stinging blows of the broom, the strange creature released the dog. Then it flew right at her. Mrs. Sorbinski was terrified. The attack had come so unexpectedly that she had no time to move. At the last second, the Jersey Devil veered away and sailed over the fence.

Relief unfroze her muscles. Grabbing up her dog, Mrs. Sorbinski screamed in panic and shock as she carried her pet indoors and phoned for help. Patrolmen Crouch and Cunningham were dispatched to the house. As they strove to calm Mrs. Sorbinski and the gathered neighbors, the officers heard piercing screeches from the standpipe in Kaighn Hill. The officers ran to the location. Silhouetted against the sky was a large creature which resembled a dragon, with a head like a horse, a snake-like body and bat's wings. The Jersey Devil was still in town!

The officers emptied their revolvers in vain at the creature, but their bullets did not faze the creature. It stretched up and up into the darkened sky as if it mocked them, ignoring the clamor of the patrolmen and the crowd. Finally, the creature flapped its large wings and flew lazily away into the night.

For two more days, the Jersey Devil continued to plague the area. Then it disappeared as suddenly as it had come. No one knew why it had emerged from the Pine Barrens, or why it so suddenly stopped its foraging. But everyone, especially Mrs. Sorbinski and her dog, was relieved that the Jersey Devil was gone.

[Ref. gm1:] "GODS AND MONSTERS" WEBSITE:

The website indicates that on January 21, 1909 - That night, a Camden woman named Mrs. Sorbinski heard a clamor in her yard. She went outside to see the Devil grabbing her dog. Sorbinski grabbed a broom and beat the Devil with it until it let go and flew away. The woman's screaming and shouting alerted a large crowd of neighbors who called the police and gathered in her yard. When the police arrived the crowd heard a high-pitched scream from a nearby hill and turned to see the strange creature. The crowd rushed the hill as police shot at the creature. It flew off and was not seen again for the rest of the night.

[Ref. ch1:] LOREN COLEMAN AND BRUCE HALLENBECK:

The authors says that on January 21, 1909, in Camden, New Jersey, Mary Sorbinski heard a commotion in her backyard around 7 p.m., and rememberingher dog had been out there, immediately went to see the cause of the noise. She was stricken with shock and terror as she saw her dog in the "vise-like grip" of a "horrible monster!" She then began to smack at the creature with a broomstick, and it dropped her dog, began screaming its awful high-pitched cries and flew right at Mrs. Sorbinski, but at the last second changed direction and flew away.

After it had gone, Mrs. Sorbinski carried her injured dog into the house to find that a chunk of its flesh had been ripped out. She became overwhelmed with fear and panic. Within an hour, the house was filled with neighbors, police officers, and others who were curious as to the night's incident. While the crowd gathered, the Jersey Devil made its presence known once more at the Sorbinski residence by emitting its awful screeches. The police officers on scene attempted to fire at the creature, but to no avail, and it eventually flew away. The incident caused a statewide outbreak of panic and fear.

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.

This classic "Jersey Devil" case even appeared in a theater play, "Death Cap and the Jersey Devil", by Dana Lang, 2011.

The testimony as given here is so poor that we cannot say much. The "creature" is hardly described - all we know is the "vice-like grip" and "awful screeches" and that it can fly - and could be almost any aggressive bird, a hawk maybe.

This could also be partially invented, or terribly exaggerated by people in the neighborhood and/or the Press. A hint of contradiction appears in [mm3], "But the Philadelphia press said the dog was nowhere to be found..."

As no continuity of sighting is established, it is possible that the creature reported my Mrs. Sorbinsky and the creature seen by the two patrolmen and the crowd is not the same.

Only one, late version, [ss1], gives a description, a "dragon-like" description, but it is so similar to what Mrs. Sorbinsky apparently knew in advance of the Jersey Devil as described in the Press and sketches, her description it is not sourced, so it appears quite dubious.

There is not enough information to make any explanation a certainty. The only thing that seems clear is that no UFO is involved here, and there is nothing alien here.

List of issues:

Id: Topic: Severity: Date noted: Raised by: Noted by: Description: Proposal: Status:
1 Data Severe July 11, 2013 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Primary source not available. Help needed. Opened.
2 Ufology Severe July 11, 2013 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Lack of description of creature. Help needed. Opened.
3 Ufology Severe July 11, 2013 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Only one late source, [jc1], talks of a "huge" creature, and without being specific. Help needed. Opened.

Evaluation:

Probable bird. Not UFO-related.

Sources references:

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

Document history:

Authoring

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

Changes history

Version: Created/Changed By: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross July 11, 2013 Creation, [ar1].
1.0 Patrick Gross July 11, 2013 First published.

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This page was last updated on July 11, 2013