Archive for the ‘Legend’ Category

We’ve taken a look at the origin of the Jersey Devil legend in part 1, and explored some of the vast number of sightings people have claimed over the years in part 2. With such a huge number of reported encounters, often by large groups of people rather than individuals, surely there must be something behind it. But what?

The most mundane explanations go straight back to the original legend. We know, for example, that in 1735 a woman by the name of Leeds did live in the region in question. She is known to have had a large number of children, perhaps as many as twelve or thirteen – it wasn’t that uncommon at the time. Given her likely age after bearing so many children, it’s possible that she had reached a point close to menopause, where birth defects occur at a greater rate and pregnancies are higher risk.

It’s not unreasonable to hypothesize that last child could have been born deformed – and at the time, deformed children were thought to be the spawn of the devil. It wasn’t uncommon for one to be locked away or hidden in a small room to avoid public scorn or – even worse – the mother being accused of witchcraft. Such a child could have been exposed to the public at some point, and the legend is born.

But as reasonable and likely as that sounds, it can’t explain the years of encounters and sightings that have continued right up to modern day. Needless to say, there have been as many explanations suggested as there have been encounters with the creature.

Biologists and Zoologists have suggested that people might have been seeing a species of bird that was once indigenous to the New Jersey area – the Sandhill Crane. It regularly stands 40 − 48 inches tall, has a wingspan of up to seven feet, and its call is a loud (and some say unnatural-sounding) screech. But land development has driven the Sandhill Crane south and out of the region, and the crane is an herbivore whereas the Jersey Devil has been known to attack animals and steal livestock. Not to mention the fact that the rest of the Devil’s description really doesn’t exactly fit…

Others have suggested that the Jersey Devil might be (or be related to) the Hammer Headed Fruit Bat (Hypsignathus Monstrosus). While there is a striking resemblance to the description of the Jersey Devil, none are known to exist in the wild in America (they’re native to Africa), and the bat in question rarely grows more than eleven inches tall – which is large for a bat, but not near the reported size of the Jersey Devil.

One particularly wild theory suggests that the Jersey Devil is actually a ‘survival’ – that is, an animal which has survived past the commonly accepted point of extinction, like the coelacanth. In this case, people have suggested that the Jersey Devil might be a group of pterodactyls that have survived throughout the years. Needless to say the physical details are only a rough fit at best, and it seems extremely unlikely that such a survival could have occurred.

But there are even wilder theories. It has been suggested that the Jersey Devil could be the descendant of another creature of legend – the dragon. Both creatures are said to have long necks, wings, and the ability to fly; and in some encounters with the Jersey Devil, it has been said to breathe fire like a dragon. But dragons are, of course, purely mythical. Aren’t they? The Native American tribes of the region did call the area “Popuessing,” which translates to “place of the dragon.”

There are, of course, a large number of supernatural theories about the Jersey Devil. Some people have asked why the Jersey Devil has to be a creature that can be explained by scientific means. Couldn’t it truly be a supernatural entity? After all, it has survived for so long; been shot without taking harm; its tracks have been followed to and through places that no natural creature of its size could have passed through; its tracks have been reported to change size mid-stride, and even to change shape; and it has eluded every attempt at capture.

Needless to say, that’s going to be a hard theory to prove or disprove.

Coming back around from the supernatural, cryptozoologists have put forth two ‘real world’ explanations that many Jersey Devil researchers support.

First, the Jersey Devil could be a hybrid animal of some sort (like a mule, for example). There are two problems with this theory: hybrids tend to be sterile, so reproduction (and thus an ongoing population) is unlikely without intervention; and what creatures could be mated that would produce that unlikely combination of features?

Second, cryptozoologists have suggested – as they have for many unexplained creatures – that it might simply be a previously undiscovered and unidentified form of animal life. New animals are discovered daily somewhere in the world – it’s small-minded to believe that we know every type of creature that inhabits the Earth. Perhaps there is a creature native to the Pine Barrens that lives nowhere else on the planet and has never been captured or killed by humans. Still, with more than seven million people living in the state of New Jersey, it seems unlikely that such a creature could have gone unseen (and uncaptured and unkilled) for this long. Unlikely, but not impossible.

Maybe it’s one or more (or all) of the above. To date, we just don’t know. Obviously, some explanations are more likely than others. Whatever the Jersey Devil is, one thing about it is undeniable: it has made an indelible impact on popular American culture.

Check the original post: Classic Cryptid: The Truth Behind The Legend of the Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil has built up a vast collection of encounter reports since its first appearance in the 1700s. All of them come from the area in and around the New Jersey Pine Barrens, and the majority of them by reliable witnesses. Following are some of the most notable recorded run-ins with the creature:

  • In 1819, at the behest of President James Monroe, Commodore Stephen Decatur was visiting the Hannover Mill works to inspect the quality of his cannonballs as they were being forged. While there, he reported that he sighted a flying creature matching the Jersey Devil’s description, and that he fired at and hit it with a cannonball…to no effect. Work that was done on Decatur’s house in Washington, D.C. in 2007-2008 turned up papers suggesting that this encounter might have been something more than chance – he was definitely in New Jersey at the time testing the quality of the cannonballs produced by Batsto and Hannover, but was evidently accompanied by Dr. James Killian, a famous paranormalist and cryptid hunter of the time. Stories collected from throughout New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania have the two men in pursuit of the creature for some months.
  • The writings of Joseph Bonaparte, the eldest brother of Emperor Napoleon, indicate that he saw and fired upon a creature matching the Jersey Devil’s description while hunting on his Bordentown estate in 1820. Like Decatur’s encounter, shooting at the creature had no effect.
  • In 1840, the Jersey Devil was blamed for several livestock killings; similar attacks were reported again in 1841, accompanied by strange tracks and “unearthly” screams. There were similar reports again in 1859 and a flurry of sightings in 1873, followed by a report of it terrifying children in 1887. Again, as in Decatur’s encounter, there are reports of people shooting at it to no effect.
  • On July 27th, 1937, a creature matching the description of the Jersey Devil was seen by many of the residents of Downington, Pennsylvania.
  • In 1960, unusual tracks were found and accompanied by loud shrieking heard near Mays Landing. That same year, merchants around Camden offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of the Jersey Devil, saying that they would even build a private zoo to house it if it could be brought in alive.
  • In 1990, several soldiers from Fort Dix reported witnessing a strange creature matching the Jersey Devil’s description while on maneuvers.
  • In 2007, a creature with a horse’s head and bat like wings was reported to walk in front of a couple of hikers in Wharton State Forest. The following January 21st (2008), a man in Eldora heard a strange screech and saw a creature matching the Jersey Devil’s description perched on top of his chicken coop. He said that the large winged creature flew off after being startled by his cell phone ringing.
  • In 2008, the New York Times was given no less than ten reports of encounters with the Jersey Devil by a group local to the Pine Barrens that collected them.

The list of sightings is seemingly endless, and only continues to grow to this day. But by far the most spectacular event associated with the Jersey Devil is the so-called “Phenomenal Week” of January 16th – 23rd, 1909. During those days, sightings of the Jersey Devil were reported by thousands of people in the area surrounding the Pine Barrens, including:

  • Dozens of people sighted the creature flying over Woodbury on the 16th. On the 17th and 18th, strange and seemingly impossible tracks were found in Burlington, NJ; Bristol, PA; and several other towns. The tracks were said to appear and disappear at random, sometimes even appearing in the snow on top of houses or passing beneath and through impossibly low or small spaces.
  • On the 19th, Nelson Evans and his wife, of Gloucester, reportedly saw the creature outside their windows at 2:30 AM and provided a detailed description of it: “It was about three feet and a half high, with a head like a collie dog and a face like a horse. It had a long neck, wings about two feet long, and its back legs were like those of a crane, and it had horse’s hooves. It walked on its back legs and held up two short front legs with paws on them. It didn’t use the front legs at all while we were watching.”
  • The same day, two Gloucester hunters tracked the creature’s trail for twenty miles. It appeared to “jump” fences and squeeze under eight-inch gaps. Similar trails were reported in several other towns the same day.
  • On the 20th, Haddonfield and Collingswood formed posses to find the devil. Both groups reportedly watch the creature fly towards Moorestown, where it was reported being seen by at least two more people.
  • On the 21st, the creature attacked a trolley car in Haddon Heights, but was chased off, resulting in trolley cars in several nearby towns beginning to maintain armed guards. Several poultry farmers found their chickens dead that day, and the devil was reported to collide with an electric rail in Clayton without being affected. A telegraph worker near Atlantic City claimed to have shot the devil, only to watch it limp off into the woods – it was apparently unfazed, as it continued rampaging through Philadelphia, PA and West Collingswood, NJ. In West Collingswood, the devil seemed poised to attack nearby people and was supposedly hosed by the local fire department to chase it off. It reemerged in Camden to injure a dog; the first reported attack on a living creature.

There were a few more sightings on the 22nd, but the damage had been done – widespread newspaper coverage had led to a panic throughout the Delaware Valley, resulting in a number of school and business closings.

It can’t be denied that people have been seeing something in and around the Pine Barrens over the past 275 years or so. But what, exactly, is it that they’ve been seeing? In the next part, we’ll explore some of the theories people have put forth to explain what the Jersey Devil might be.

Back to Part One

Go to Part Three

Original story credits: Josh Sanofsky by Week in Weird

Almost everyone who lives in the northeastern United States has heard of the Jersey Devil once or twice. It’s one of the most famous early American legends, and one of the most often investigated and sought-after cryptids; the earliest reported encounters with it date back as far as the late 1700s or early 1800s. And as with many legends, there are almost as many different versions of the creature’s origins as there have been sightings of it.

The most common version of the legend goes a little something like this: In the 1700s, a woman named Deborah Smith emigrated from England to marry a Mr. Leeds, and went to live in the area of New Jersey now known as the Pine Barrens. When the story of the Jersey Devil truly begins, Mrs. Leeds had given birth to twelve children, and had discovered that she was about to give birth to her thirteenth.

Some versions of the story say that when she learned that she was pregnant with her thirteenth child, she reacted with fury and disgust, crying out “I hope it’s a devil!” or “May it be a devil!” Other variations say that she invoked the devil during the particularly difficult and painful labor that followed. Be that as it may, when the child was born it was either immediately known to be unnatural by its appearance – being born with horns on a horse-like head, wings and a tail – or shortly after its birth changed into a devil-like creature. Again, these differences depend on the version.

There are even versions of the versions. One says that rather than cursing the child herself or calling on the devil during the birth, the child’s devilish nature was the result of a family curse, though it doesn’t mention which side of the family. Still another version mentions that the creature visited Mrs. Leeds every day; she would stand at her door and tell it to leave, until finally it relented and never returned.

Some stories say it was the sixth child, or the eight, tenth, twelfth or thirteenth. Some say it was born normal, others deformed. Some say the mother immediately drove it out of the house, while others say she confined it to the cellar or attic.

Another popular alteration of the legend says that a Mrs. Shrouds of Leeds Point, New Jersey, made a wish that if she ever had another child, she wanted it to be a devil. Her next child was born misshapen and deformed (though not necessarily unnatural). She kept it hidden in the house so curious neighbors wouldn’t be able to see him. Finally, one evening the child flapped its arms – which turned into wings – and escaped up the chimney, never to be seen by the family again.

Burlington, New Jersey claims (as do a few other locations) to be the birthplace of the Jersey Devil. They say that in 1735, Mother Leeds was in labor on a stormy night with her friends and family gathered around her. Rumors said that she was a witch, and that the child’s father might even be the devil himself. When the cursed child wasborn, it appeared to be perfectly normal, then in front of the eyes of the room, changed from a normal baby into a creature with hooves, a horses’ head, bat wings and a forked tail. It proceeded to beat everyone present, then flew up the chimney. It circled the village before heading toward the pines, and commenced to harry the town until a clergyman banished the creature for 100 years in 1740.

In every version of the story, there are some consistent details. The name “Leeds” enters into many of them, either as a location or the name of the cursed family. Most agree on the final appearance of the creature as it left its birthplace.

There is also, potentially, some historical precedent for the story. One historian discovered that a Daniel Leeds owned land in Great Egg Harbor, New Jersey, in 1699, and that his family lived in Leeds Point. He also discovered that a Samuel Shrouds came to Little Egg Harbor in 1735, and lived across the river from the house of Mother Leeds. The Leeds and Shrouds names appear in many versions of the legend.

Another professor found that a “devil” was mentioned in historical and religious writings from the Burlington area as early as 1735. He noted that the name “Burlington” was used to refer an area of New Jersey from the city of Burlington to the Atlantic Ocean, which encompasses Leeds Point and several other locations associated with the legend.

It’s worth noting that the Pine Barrens itself is a fascinating region of heavily forested land. The area’s soil is sandy, acidic and nutrient poor, which led to sparse settlement as it was poor farming land. In spite of this, the uncommon conditions there enable the Pine Barrens to support a diverse spectrum of unusual plant life, including orchids, carnivorous plants (such as the Venus Flytrap), and a rare pygmy variant of the Pitch Pine, amongst others. Even before the birth of the Jersey Devil, the Lenni Lenape Native American tribes of the region referred to the area as “Popuessing,” meaning “place of the dragon.”

All of these details have to have come from somewhere, and that somewhere would be the huge body of encounters people have had with the creature over the past 275-odd years.

Go to Part Two

The Mark of Cain

The Mark of Cain

When God judged Cain for the murder of Abel he became fearful for his life. The Bible speaks of God putting a mark on Cain to protect him from others.

And the Lord said to him, Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him (Genesis 4:15).

God’s mark of protection on Cain was to help provide for his safety. However, it did not prevent Cain from being attacked or murdered. The mark merely warned that anyone who killed Cain would himself suffer a worse death.

Large Population

The fact that God had to put a mark on Cain suggests that the population was large enough that Cain needed to be singled out for protection. The text does not tell us what the mark was or that it was passed down to succeeding generations. As to what was the mark of Cain there have been a number of suggestions.

Not Necessarily On His Person

Certain Bible commentators have argued that the mark was merely a sign of confirmation that Cain would be protected from others. We are not told what sign God gave him, but whatever it was it calmed his fears for his life.

The phrase set a mark upon Cain (King James Version) does not necessarily mean that there was some mark upon his person. The phrase more likely means a sign for him. This could mean that God gave some sign to appear for Cain’s reassurance. Thus the idea of mark may mean some type of token or pledge. There are two other instances in the Old Testament where God gave similar signs to confirm His Word (Judges 6:36-40) and Elisha (2 Kings 2:9-12).

Appointed A Sign

The Revised Version translates the phrase appointed a sign for Cain. This indicates that whenever someone approached Cain some sign was given to deter that person from attacking. Though we are not told what this sign was, it protected Cain from those who wished to harm him.

Physical Sign

Others have argued that the mark was something physical. This would either be on his person or something that was with him. Possible solutions include: a dog to provide direction for Cain, a physical mark on his forehead, horns, or a brightly colored coat. One of the horrible suggestions that has been made is that Cain was marked with black skin. There is absolutely no basis whatsoever for accepting this terrible interpretation.


Not Told

None of these proposed solutions to the mark of Cain can be proven or disproven – we are simply not told what it was.

Mark On The Forehead

The prophet Ezekiel was told to put a mark on the foreheads of certain people.

And the Lord said to him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, a put a mark on the foreheads of men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are down within it (Ezekiel 9:4).

Scripture also tells us that in the future, God will mark His people for protection. For example, in the Book of Revelation we have an episode where people have a mark placed upon them. A special group of people, the 144,000, receives a mark from God that guarantees their protection. The Lord commanded:

Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads (Revelation 7:3).

Those not having the mark of God were not protected from the coming judgments.

Mark Of The Beast

In the Book of Revelation we also find the mark of the beast. Satan always counterfeits the things of God. As God marked the 144,000 as a special people to be protected, Satan will mark all those who worship him with his name and number on their right hand and forehead. As is true with the mark placed on the 144,000 by God, the mark here speaks of ownership.

And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads (Revelation 13:16).

Both of these marks were for the purpose of keeping the people safe who received the mark. Therefore we can conclude that the mark of Cain fits other portions of Scripture where a mark is given as a sign of protection.

From God To Nod!

After his judgment, Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and built a city in the land of Nod. The exact location of Nod seems to be unknown to the readers of Genesis. It is described as being east of Eden. This is another geographical reference away from the Garden. As humankind goes further east, they go further from God’s presence.

Successful Materially, Not Spiritually

Thus this part of humanity, cut off from God’s presence, organized and built the first city. From the simple pastoral and agricultural life humankind now created urban society with all its complications. Cain’s city developed music and metallurgy. The mention of metal working at that very early period causes a problem because it occurs long before the historical bronze and iron ages. It is possible that the knowledge of metallurgy was wiped out in the Flood of Noah. The techniques discovered and employed in this time were then rediscovered at a later period.
Though this community was successful in material matters, their spiritual life continued to be far away from God’s presence.

Paradise lost...

Paradise lost…


The mark of Cain was to help keep him from being physically harmed while he was a stranger and a vagabond. It did not guarantee his safety, it only promised a worse fate for those who harmed him. We cannot be certain whether the mark was an actual physical sign or something else. Marking humanity is something we find in the Book of Revelation. God marks his people with a sign on their forehead. The Antichrist also marks his people with a sign on their forehead and right hand. In both instances, the marks indicated ownership and protection.

As posted on 9GAG


Our take on that: one should not make fun of these stories. THEY ALL are always based on real facts.

Forget Sleeping. These 15 Real Ghost Stories Are Going To Keep You Up Tonight.
Mining is an ancient profession and along with the back breaking work and dangers of working in the dark underground, comes century old superstitions, the most notable being that of the Tommyknockers.

These impish, gnome-like men are the Cornish equivalent of Irish leprechauns and English brownies. Germans called them Berggeister or Bergmännlein, meaning  “mountain ghosts” or “little miners.”

The Cornish believed these wee little men were the souls of the Jews who crucified Christ and were sent by the Romans to work as slaves in the tin mines. This belief was so strong that the Tommyknockers were allegedly never heard on Saturdays, nor at times of Jewish festivals.


About two feet tall, and often described as greenish in color, they look like men and are most often spied wearing a traditional miner’s outfit. Living beneath the ground, they have been “known” to have committed both good and bad deeds through the centuries, often playing practical jokes and committing random acts of mischief, such as stealing unattended tools and food.

The Tommyknockers were first heard of in the United States when Cornish miners worked in the western Pennsylvania coal mines in the 1820’s. When the California Gold Rush began, these experienced Cornish miners were welcomed and often sought after by the mine owners. Attempting to recruit more minders, managers often approached the immigrants, asking if they had any relatives back in England who might come to work the mines. The Cornish miners would reply something like this: “Well, me cousin Jack over in Cornwall wouldst come could ye pay ’is boat ride.” Soon, these many immigrant miners took on the nickname Cousin Jacks, who formed the core of America’s early western mining workforce. As such, their superstition of the Tommyknocker thrived and spread throughout the mines of the west.

The name “knockers,” pronounced “knackers,” comes from the knocking on the mine walls that often happens just before cave-ins. Actually caused by the creaking of earth and timbers, some thought these sounds of “hammering” were malevolent, indicating certain death or injury, while others saw their “knocking” as well-meaning, warning the miners that a life-threatening collapse was imminent. Yet, others believed that the knocking sounds would lead them to a rich ore body and or signs of good luck.

When these grizzled little gnomes were good, they were thought to bring miners favors and wealth. But when they were bad, they were said to bring about misery, injury, and death to those who doubted their power or who did not believe in them.

These highly spirited characters were also known to perform many of the mining duties, working right along side the men, as well as being blamed for many a prank, and credited with saving the lives of many miners. If a hammer was missing, it was the Tommyknockers who had taken it, but if a miner escaped a collapse, the Tommyknockers were given credit.


Later, the legend of the Tommyknockers evolved into the idea that the knockings were caused by dead miners who were kind enough to give warnings of danger to the living. In praise of these kind gestures, the miners would leave offerings of food and other items in order to secure their good graces and protection.


In some mines, where the Tommyknockers’ presence was known to be overwhelmingly malevolent, the mines were forced to close because of the mens’ fear of the spirits. When the mines played out, the legend continued, as many said the Tommyknockers found “work” in the homes surrounding the old mineshafts. Superstitions continued when many a family death or disaster was allegedly foretold by a knocking in the house.

Belief in these diminutive miners remained well into the 20th century until modern systems and education replaced these earlier superstitions. Though not much is heard of the Tommyknockers today, they will forever have a place in our history, legend and lore.



The Tommyknockers

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This article is about the Stephen King novel. For the American television miniseries based on the novel, see The Tommyknockers (TV miniseries). For other uses, see Tommyknocker.
The Tommyknockers

First edition cover
Author Stephen King
Cover artist One Plus One Studio
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fiction
Published November 10, 1987 (Putnam)
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 558
ISBN 978-0-399-13314-5

The Tommyknockers is a 1987 science fiction novel by Stephen King. While maintaining a horror style, the novel is more of an excursion into the realm of science fiction for King, as the residents of the Maine town of Haven gradually fall under the influence of a mysterious object buried in the woods.

Plot summary

While walking in the woods near the small town of Haven, Maine, Roberta (Bobbi) Anderson, a writer of Wild West-themed fiction, stumbles upon a metal object which turns out to be a protrusion of a long-buried alien spacecraft. Once exposed, the spacecraft begins releasing an invisible, odorless gas into the atmosphere which gradually transforms people into beings similar to the aliens who populated the spacecraft. The transformation, or “becoming,” provides them with a limited form of genius which makes them very inventive, but does not provide any philosophical or ethical insight. Instead, it provokes psychotic violence (on the part of people like Becka Paulson, who kills her adulterous husband by fatally rewiring their television receiver, killing herself in the process) and the disappearance of a young boy, David Brown, whose older brother Hilly teleports him to another planet, referred to as Altair 4 by the Havenites.

The book’s central character is a poet and friend of Bobbi Anderson, named James Eric Gardener, who goes by the nickname “Gard”. He is a fundamentally decent person with left-leaning, liberal sensibilities who is apparently immune to the ship’s effects because of a steel plate in his head, a souvenir of a teenage skiing accident. Unfortunately, Gard is also an alcoholic, prone to binges which result in violent outbursts followed by lengthy blackouts. His relationship with Bobbi deteriorates as the novel progresses. She is almost totally overcome by the euphoria of “becoming” one with the spacecraft, but Gard increasingly sees her health worsen and her sanity disappear. The novel is filled with metaphors for the stranglehold of substance abuse, which King himself was experiencing at the time, as well as for the dangers of nuclear power and radioactive fallout (as evidenced by the physical transformations of the townspeople, which resemble the effects of radiation exposure), of unchecked technological advancement, and of the corrupting influence of power. Government agencies are uniformly portrayed as corrupt and totalitarian throughout the book, and Bobbi and Gard themselves are led into thinking that they can use the ship’s “power” as a weapon to thwart the authorities’ nefarious designs.

Seeing the transformation of the townspeople worsen, the torture and manipulation of Bobbi’s dog Peter, and people being killed or worse when they pry too deeply into the strange events, Gardener eventually manipulates Bobbi into allowing him into the ship. After he sees that Bobbi is not entirely his old friend and lover, he gives her one more chance before deciding to kill her with the same gun with which state trooper “Monster” Dugan had previously almost killed her in her back field. However, Bobbi is able to read Gardner’s mind after loading him up with Valium, and sends out a telepathic APB when she senses he has a gun. As a result, her death sends all the townspeople swarming to her place, intent on killing Gardener. Meanwhile, Gard accidentally drops the gun and shoots himself in the ankle. Ev Hillman, David and Hilly’s grandfather, helps Gardener escape into the woods (which soon catches fire from one of the Tommyknockers’ “toys”) in exchange for using the “new and improved” computers and what little “becoming” he underwent to save David Brown. Gardener enters the ship, activates it, and with the last of his life telepathically launches it into space, resulting in the eventual deaths of nearly all of the changed townspeople, but preventing the possibly disastrous consequences of the ship’s influence spreading to the outside world. Very shortly after (in the epilogue) members from the FBI, CIA, and “The Shop” invade Haven and take as many of the Havenites as possible, killing nearly a quarter of the survivors, and a few of the devices created by the altered people of Haven.

In the last pages, David Brown is discovered in Hilly Brown’s hospital room, safe and sound.


In his autobiography, On Writing, King attributes the basic premise to the short story “The Colour Out of Space” by H. P. Lovecraft.

The writer and critic Kim Newman has cited another influence on the novel, saying that in it King had “more or less rewritten Quatermass and the Pit,”[1] a 1950s BBC television science-fiction serial involving the excavation of a long-buried alien spacecraft, and the growing influence of the dormant machine on surrounding human beings. This influence was also picked up on in The Times newspaper’s review of the book on its release.[2]


A two-part television miniseries based on the novel was shown in 1993 on ABC, starring Jimmy Smits as Jim Gardner and Marg Helgenberger as Bobbi Anderson. The film differs from the novel by stating the aliens return to life by sucking life out of the Haven residents, instead of the Haven residents slowly transforming into aliens. Location filming took place near Auckland, New Zealand.

A 1997 episode of The Outer Limits, The Revelations of Becka Paulson was partly based on events in the novel and a 1984 short story of the same name.

NBC announced in July 2013 that they would be producing a new miniseries based on The Tommyknockers.[3][4][5]


  1. Newman, Kim in Producer – Tom Ware; Executive Producer – Michael Poole (2003-10-15). “The Kneale Tapes”. Timsehift. BBC Four.
  2. Hutchinson, Tom (1988-03-17). “Space horror; Review of ‘The Tommy Knockers’ by Stephen King”. The Times. 
  3. NBC Orders Hillary Clinton, ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ Stephen King’s ‘Tommyknockers,’ Plymouth Rock Miniseries
  4. Collins, Scott (July 27, 2013). “TCA press tour: NBC preps Hillary Clinton bio and ‘Tommyknockers. Los Angeles Times. 
  5. Goldman, Eric. “NBC Announces Remakes of Rosemary’s Baby and The Tommyknockers”. IGN.

CROATOAN & Roanoke

Posted: April 20, 2011 in Legend, Report, Stories

Croatoan & the Mystery of Roanoke

Though the English government officially declared the colony of Roanoke “lost” in 1597, no official explanation as to the fate of the colonists has ever been accepted. However, the facts surrounding the establishment of this ill-fated settlement and its relations with neighboring Indian tribes may shed some light on this somewhat perplexing mystery. The only clue as to the whereabouts of the colony was the word CROATOAN, which was carved in large ominous letters on a tree in the center of the abandoned settlement. But, what did it mean? Was this message intended to inform Governor John White as to the colony’s destination after abandoning the settlement? If so, did they go of their of their own free will, or were they forced to retreat—and if this was the case, by whom? This article will explore both the changing historical interpretation of the events surrounding the colony’s disappearance and the external relations between the colonists and their Indian neighbors. Here are the facts of the case as history and subsequent investigation have revealed.

Roanoke was a dream given form; the vision of one man dedicated to establishing a permanent English presence in North America. Sir Walter Raleigh inherited the project of a permanent settlement in the region from his elder half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Sir Humphrey perished in an attempt to reconnoiter the territory pursuant to a royal commission. Raleigh saw the continent as an opportunity for England to expand its scope and cement its place in world history. Having already gained experience at establishing an English presence in Ireland, through brutal and almost genocidal military tactics, Raleigh pursued his American campaign with the same amount of vigor. As Raleigh was a rising star in the court of England’s Queen Elizabeth, he was well placed to accomplish their goal. In 1584, Raleigh commissioned an expedition to the coastal region of North America for the express purpose of scouting possible locations for a temporary settlement. Arriving along the coast of North Carolina in July of that year, the explorers Phillip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe encountered a friendly tribe whom the named from the island that they had landed on, Roanoke. This would be their first encounter with the native culture of America. Welcomed ashore by these people, Amadas and Barlowe reported that the region was not only aesthetically pleasing but also ripe for a permanent settlement.

In April of 1585, Raleigh dispatched seven ships containing 100 colonists to establish a settlement in this same region. Another veteran of the Irish campaign, Ralph Lane, was appointed governor of the first Roanoke settlement. This would be the first of a series of mistakes that would endanger colonization efforts and damage relations with Native American nations. Lane’s idea of diplomatic relations with the Indian nation that had given the settlers succor was to abduct the son of Chief Menatonon and hold him as a hostage. The purpose of this overtly hostile action was to obtain information from the chief about the defensive capabilities of the surrounding Indian nations. This action only served to alienate the tribe and force the settlers to depend on the fruits of their own labors. This enmity would fester and prove a hindrance to the peaceful establishment of the second colony. Within months, the first Roanoke colony was in disarray and the settlers were near starving. They would have perished had not Sir Francis Drake and his fleet arrived in the spring of 1586. Though Drake had hoped to use Roanoke as a base of operations for future efforts against the Spanish presence in North America, he was instead forced to ferry the defunct colony back to England. Sir Walter Raleigh, however, was not dismayed.

This time Raleigh chose a man with little military experience to head up his expedition. John White, an artist whom Raleigh respected, was chosen to be the governor of the second expedition. In addition to the choice of a less authoritarian leader, Raleigh also invited colonists who were well versed in farming techniques as opposed to the less agrarian soldiers who populated the first colony. Everything seemed to be in order and the colony seemed destined for success. However, something went terribly wrong.

In May of 1587, 117 men, women, and children set sail from Plymouth, England for what was then a relatively unexplored and harsh realm. They were sailing into the unknown, but they faced their task with a sense of bold curiosity. Though their intended destination was actually the Chesapeake Bay area, the colonists were forced to disembark on the same site of the failed Roanoke colony. Simon Fernandez, the captain of the colonial transport vessel, informed the governor that the North Carolina coastal region was a more hospitable location for the colony. To Governor White, however, this decision was brought on by Fernandez’s avarice and his desire to join in privateering efforts against the Spanish. Whatever his reasons, Fernandez brought the colonists to Roanoke.

The efforts to rebuild the dilapidated English fort began almost as soon as the party disembarked. Governor White began preparing his report on the progress of the colony and efforts were made to establish a dialogue with the neighboring Indian nations. Unfortunately, the Roanoke tribe was in no mood to sit down with the colonial administration, having experienced the aggression of Governor Lane just two years before. Undaunted, Governor White sent out a message of peace to the neighboring Indian settlements. This effort bore fruit in the establishment of friendly relations with a nation known as Croatoan—located on an island just south of Roanoke colony.

The Croatoan (also referred to as Pamlico) were an Algonquian people who populated the islands on the outer banks of North Carolina—just south of Roanoke. An emissary sent from the colony to the Croatoan nation generated positive relations between the two distinctly different groups of people. Although this was good sign, it was still altogether necessary for the governor to return to England in search of supplies and a possible relief effort should evacuation become a necessity. Governor White left Roanoke in August of 1587 with hopes of returning within a few months. Before leaving his post, the governor instructed the colonists to leave him a sign should they feel the need to remove themselves from the region under any circumstance. He instructed them to place a cross on a tree as an indicator that they were in distress and their evacuation was necessary for their survival. This would give the governor some intimation as to the colony’s status and assist him in locating them. It would be the last message he would give, and the last time he would see the colonists.

Governor White had vowed to return to Roanoke as soon he could. It was unfortunate that at the exact time the governor arrived in England, Queen Elizabeth had ordered all sea worthy vessels into service against the gathering Spanish naval forces. White pleaded with Raleigh and members of the English government to allow him permission to return to America. However, it was not until 1590 that White was able to return to the colony—but by then it was too late. The colonists were gone. All of the buildings were in disrepair or had been carefully dismantled. The only clue as to their whereabouts was the word “Croatoan,” which was carved on a tree in the center of the town square. Croatoan! What did it mean? White was in a state of absolute shock, but not dismayed. There was no cross located above the word, which would have been an indicator of foul play or some type of attack. There was no sign of fighting, nor any evidence that the colonists were abruptly carried away by natural or unnatural forces. They were simply not where he had expected them to be.The mystery of Roanoke is closely linked to the mystery of the people of Croatoan. They feature heavily in reports about the islands along the coastline of North Carolina as a friendly people. Indeed, White himself described the people of Croatoan as “our friends” and once the shock of the colony’s disappearance wore off he was relived to find that they had removed themselves their territory. He knew that they would find succor there. The governor’s sense of security regarding the people of Croatoan came from his relationship with a young man name Manteo, who was of that particular tribe.

Manteo was a key figure in the establishment of peaceful relations between his people and the settlers of the first Roanoke colony. Although Governor Lane had alienated the leaders of the Roanoke Indian nation, his relationship with Manteo had helped to foster a friendship with the inhabitants of the settlement’s southern neighbors. Manteo even returned to England with the colony and eventually adopted European customs. When the second expedition was dispatched, Manteo came along in order to assist Governor White with his diplomatic efforts and also to keep an eye of the governor for Sir Walther Raleigh. In essence, Manteo was Raleigh’s personal representative. He would be essential to the efforts to sustain the colony and re-open ties with the people of Croatoan; and shortly after the establishment of the colony, his skills as an ambassador would be put to the test.

In July of 1587, colonist George Howe is found dead. Howe was attacked by members of the neighboring Roanoke nation, whom Governor Lane had harassed in 1585. When describing the bloody scene, Governor White commented that the Indians had “beat his head to pieces,” shot him with sixteen arrows, and assaulted him with clubs. This attack came as no real surprise to the governor, who was aware that the tactics of his predecessor might have generated a sense of injustice among neighboring Indian nations. Knowing of the peaceful nature of Coatoan people, the governor quickly dispatched Manteo and twenty representatives of the colony to their territory. The embassy succeeds in renewing “the old love that was between” the tribe and the colonists. White accompianied the Roanoke delegation and promised the Indians that the colonists had no intention of taking over Croatoan territory and did not represent a threat to their existence. Simply put, the governor wanted to let the people of Croatoan know that the colonists wished “to live with them as brethren and friends.” Whether this meant that White was seeking some sort of sanctuary should the colony fail is up to speculation. However, it is implied in his message to the tribal leadership that he did seek some form of co-existence. It would only greatly improve the colony’s chance for survival if they were included in the territory and protection of the Croatoan nation. White knew, as did the leaders of the Croatoan, that Roanoke was doomed. The Croatoan leaders agreed. His diplomatic mission having succeeded, the governor decided to return to England and arrange for provisions. He would never see his colony again.

When White returned to the island in 1590, he set out to find the people of Croatoan—for with them was the salvation of his colony. A sudden coastal storm forced the governor’s rescue ships to return to England and he was unable to make the trip to the island. He made a second attempt months later, but that vessel was also turned back due to bad weather. Dismayed and utterly heartbroken, the governor returned to his native Ireland and died in obscurity. No one knows what happened to the people of the Roanoke colony. The only one who still believed that they were alive, even after all evidence spoke to the contrary, Governor White never ceased to believe that they were with the Croatoan. Was this the idle hope of a broken man?

What is well known is that the descendants of the Croatoan tribe, the modern day Lumbee, began to appear some 50 years after the disappearance of the colony. Observers described these people as having European features and speaking English. The Lumbee have remained in North Carolina, even populating the same region as their Croatoan ancestors. They were accepted by both the United States and the state of North Carolina as an officially mixed tribe. Unfortunately, this has resulted in the U.S. government not recognizing them as an Indian nation. However, the state of North Carolina does recognize the Lumbee as the true descendants of Croatoan. It would not be that much of leap to conclude that the people of Croatoan were true to their word and accepted the embattled colonists into their nation. Though the disappearance of the Roanoke colony is still considered a mystery, it has been accepted that the colonists came to live among the people of Croatoan.