The Biography Channel was in touch with Doug Hogate, Jr., the founder of Jersey Unique Minds Paranormal Society (JUMPS), about filming a segment for their show, My Ghost Stories. He thought it would be a great way to get some publicity for Salem County and all the buildings with historical interest there. He also probably thought it would be cool just to be on TV, we assume.
Johnson Hall was going to be the building in the show. Pictured above, it is a 19th century mansion built and owned by Col. Robert Gibbon Johnson and that’s now home to the Salem County Chamber of Commerce. Hogate told the Bio Channel that he had documented proof that he’d found a female presence there and even forwarded them some of his work. It was enough to make the producers agree to do a show there. From there, Hogate contacted the Chamber of Commerce and the Salem County Board of Freeholders to gain permission to film there.
All was well, until the day he was ready to fly to Los Angeles to tape the voiceover parts of the show. According to a post on the JUMPS website, Doug said that all the filming approvals were in place and he was set to fly to LA when he received an email saying that the project was no longer approved and, in fact, it was cancelled indefinitely. Hogate followed up with county officials but felt like he wasn’t given a satisfactory answer as to why it was cancelled.
Reporter Michael Williams, from Salem County newspaper Today’s Sunbeam, spoke with County Administrator Evern Ford who said that the network needed approval very quickly and that once the Freeholders got the full picture they decided to “take a step back and put it on hold.” Freeholders had questions about the show was going to portray the county and whether it would be a source of negative publicity.
What we can’t figure out is this. Have the Freeholders been to Cape May? What about Baltimore? What about… well, LOTS of towns and cities that have ghost tours? Many, many places around the U.S. and internationally have part of their tourism money coming from possible haunted buildings. Why would Salem County be afraid of some people wanting to come in and look at their architecture and historical places? Just doesn’t make sense to turn down free publicity.
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