November 2020

The haunting of JC Newman. The J.C. Newman factory in Tampa, Florida is 110 years old. It is the last working cigar factory in Tampa. Tampa was once known as Cigar City. In that glorious era, El Reloj was the largest and finest cigar factory in the world. But the embargo, labor costs, and anti-smoke legislation almost killed the entire cigar production in the United States. The El Reloj factory is the last remaining factory in Tampa. And since the building is 110 years old, it is no surprise that there are stories about ghost appearances in El Reloj. Halloween was last Saturday, and J.C. Newman released an 8 episode web series about ghost sightings at the El Reloj factory on its YouTube channel. We watched all episodes over the weekend, while smoking a Brick House.

The youtube series

“In the past 110 years, tens of thousands of cigar rollers and visitors have walked through our factory’s doors,” says Drew Newman, a fourth-generation owner of J.C. Newman. “It now appears that some may have never have left. This is not surprising given that our historic cigar factory is large and old and has many odd features such as trap doors, secret stairs, hidden rooms, and a dark basement.” Eight employees of J.C. Newman share the stories of their strange experiences inside El Reloj.

This year, the Newman family has been carefully restoring its El Reloj cigar factory in celebration of the 125th anniversary of its four-generation family business. “We think that the major restoration of our factory may have disturbed the spirits inside it, which is why we are noticing more paranormal activity now,” said Newman. “Once the restoration is finished in a few weeks, we are hopeful that any ghosts will be able to be at peace again.”

Ghost tours

Ybor City Ghost Tours has led several evening tours of El Reloj to investigate the paranormal activity inside it. The team detected unusually high energy readings in the factory’s former basement laboratory and in the office of the factory’s former general manager. They concluded that El Reloj is indeed haunted.

“We invite those who are interested to come and visit El Reloj,” says Newman. “We also think that watching ghosts stories from our historic cigar factory while enjoying a favorite J.C. Newman cigar is a great way for cigar enthusiasts to celebrate Halloween.” 

Ministry of Cigars - The haunting of JC Newman
Photo by Erik Müller on Unsplash

You can watch the episodes on the J.C. Newman YouTube.

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