The 'Hamptons' Union Story -- June 14, 1899 (1866 - Charles Francis Adams - 1950)

By John M. Holman, Doris Bragg & Melody Dahl
Contributing Writers

Charles Francis Adams
Charles Francis Adams, 1866-1950

Charles Francis Adams, founder of THE HAMPTONS UNION , was born in Sherborn, Massachusetts on July 10, 1866, the son of Alden and Charlotte (Fales) Adams and died on May 22, 1950 at the age of 83 years.

Before coming to Hampton, Mr. Adams served on the Massachusetts Gypsy Moth Commission from 1897 to 1899. He represented Hampton on the New Hampshire General Court from 1927 to 1939. He was a member of practically every house committee during these many years. Among his other public services, Mr. Adams was special Justice of the Hampton Municipal Court from 1911 to 1936 and served as deputy town clerk for three years. He was town auditor for eight years.

He was a member of the HAMPTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY and served as secretary of the Shore and Beach Preservation and Development Commission.

Coming to Hampton in 1899, he founded THE HAMPTONS UNION which was "published in the interests of Hampton, North Hampton, Hampton Falls, Rye & Seabrook" and the first edition hit the news stands on June 14, 1899 with Volume 1, Number 1 issue.

In the first issue there were 47 advertisements throughout the paper. A few choice news items from the first edition were as follows:

"Two special (trolley) cars brought the Daughters of New Hampshire from Exeter to Hampton Beach, Saturday afternoon about 3 o'clock" ..... "Soldiers' Memorial Day with Hampton's Annual Observance in Memory of its fallen dead was written up and the Editor of The Hamptons Union (Adams) was an invited guest." ..... "Rev. S. M. McKillopp of Concord, N.H. spoke on the Anti-Saloon League at the Baptist Church on Sunday evening to a full house." ..... "The electric cars through town are well patronized. The road (trolley line) to Newburyport has been opened and is in operation." ..... "There is a field situated on Farm Road that has been advertised for sale with a placard on a pole for several years. If the owner wishes to sell, why doesn't he patronize some good paper and so find a sale for his property?" and,

"..... On making a trip through town (Seabrook) Monday afternoon, a (trolley) car was stalled twice on account of the giving out of the power. As a thunder shower appeared to the north of us, it was probably due to shutting off the power at the power station in Hampton." ..... "S. D. Perkins, dog constable, is after the delinquent dog owners." (Hampton Falls) ..... The entrance examinations of Hampton Academy will be held at the academy building on Monday, June 19 (1899), beginning at 9 o'clock. Contrary to the custom of previous years, there will be no secondary examination." and,

"..... Seabrook: The line of the Exeter, Hampton & Amesbury Street Railway, now in operation throughout town, puts us in a much closer touch with the cities and large places about us than ever before. It also gives this place much easier and cheaper access to the beaches and other resorts than we have ever had in the past. Seabrook is now accommodated by two lines of railroad, The Boston and Maine and the Exeter, Hampton & Amesbury Street Railway".

Hampton Union at 92 High St.
Hampton Union Building at 92 High St. with a
young Constance (Adams) Billings in front

The office of the HAMPTONS (spelled with an "s" in those early days) UNION was located originally in the Shaw Building (now on the south corner of High Street & Lafayette Road) in Hampton Center and in 1905, relocated to 92 High Street. The design of the building remains basically the same as it looked when the presses were rolling off the weekly issues of the Union .

The first issue of the Union which came out on June 14, 1899, was supposed to have been published at an earlier date, but the non-arrival of the necessary machinery accounted for the delay. The second and succeeding issues were published on Saturdays. Subscriptions were as follows in 1899: 1 year for $1.00; 6 months for 50 cents and 3 months for 25 cents and this was for a weekly newspaper. Individual copies sold for 3 cents at the newsstands as compared to up to $1.50 a copy today (2009)!

The late Constance (Adams) Billings, of Kittery Point, Maine, daughter of the founder Charles Francis Adams, presented to the Tuck Memorial Museum a copy of the original HAMPTONS UNION first edition dated June 14, 1899, Volume 1, Number 1. She also presented to the Museum, the front window from their office at 92 High Street, with the words emblazoned on the glass " HAMPTONS UNION ". Both donations were made in 1975 and are on display in the Museum..

In 1929, the Hampton Union was purchased by Edward S. Seavey, who owned a large printing business in Haverhill, Mass., The Telegram Press, from Charles Adams. Mr. Seavey was a native of Greenland, N.H. and a longtime summer resident of Hampton Beach. He began his newspaper career with the old Boston Transcript before going into business in Haverhill.

After purchasing Hampton Union from Charles F. Adams in 1929, Mr. Seavey bought the building at the corner of Exeter Road and Lafayette Road (formerly the "Goody Cole Room" at Lamies Tavern) which was originally a general store and moved his machinery to that location. Mr. Seavey published his first issue of Hampton Union on January 9, 1930 from this building. (Note the slight change in the name of the paper, without the "s" in Hampton.) Later the building was sold to Albert Lamie and Hampton Union moved to a new building at 20 Mill Road, Hampton in 1932. Mr. Seavey built the new shop on Mill Road on land behind his family residence on the corner of Winnacunnet Road and Mill Road.

Mr. and Mrs. Seavey had three children, Ruth, Edward and Doris, who were in high school and worked in the business especially in the production of The Hampton Union. Mr. Seavey started the Hampton Beach Advocate which was distributed in the summer. This paper was later renamed THE BEACHCOMBER and is still in existence today.

Hampton Union was published in the Mill Road building until 1938 when Mr. Seavey Sr. retired and sold the business to his son Edward Jr. The younger Seavey purchased Hackett's Garage at 575 Lafayette Road and moved the business to this location.

Carl Bragg at Linotype
Carl C. Bragg at "Linotype" machine.

In 1945, Seavey Jr. formed a partnership with his brother-in-law Carl C. Bragg. During the next 18 years, two additions were made to the building to accommodate new newspaper presses. This partnership lasted until the untimely death of Edward Seavey Jr. on June 16, 1976. The Seavey heirs and Carl Bragg sold the business to Wesley Powell of Hampton Falls in the fall of 1973.

Under the ownership of Wesley Powell, former governor of New Hampshire, The Hampton Union continued its operation at the Lafayette Road site. Powell, a controversial political figure in the state, brought Hampton Union into a new era with his caustic editorials concerning political rivals. His snappy editorial style brought state-wide attention to Hampton Union 's editorial page every Thursday. Under Powell's ownership, Hampton Union took on a new look with a switch to offset printing.

In 1968, Powell sold Hampton Union to well-known Manchester radio announcer and publisher of The Big Town Shopper, Norman E. Bailey. For a short time, Bailey moved Hampton Union office to The Woodbury Building in Depot Square in Hampton Center. Then, in the fall of 1969, Bailey purchased a house on Lafayette Road, Seabrook, next to The Old South Meeting House and moved Hampton Union office upstairs and his personal residence downstairs.

Included in the operation of Bailey Publications was T he Hampton Union ; a newly created Smart Shopper, circulating in the Newburyport, Mass. area an expanded version of the Rockingham County Gazette with two editions in the greater Exeter and Derry area and the summertime publication of The Beachcomber . Bailey also teamed up with sports writer Gene Gallagher and Jean Lavalle to launch the monthly publication of the New Hampshire Outdoorsman .

In December, 1971, Bailey sold his publishing interests to Dear Publication and Radio Inc., a newspaper publishing company based in Washington, D. C. Ralph C. Dear, one of the members of the Dear publishing family, was brought in as general manager of the company. Continuing to expand its operation, Dear Publications and Hampton Union office used up every available space for offices in the Seabrook location, employing as many as 45 people at one time.

Then in January of 1975, Hampton Union and its associate papers were purchased by Essex County Newspapers of Gloucester, Mass. Philip S. Weld is the president and Alexander N. Stoddart the publisher of both Essex County Newspapers and Rockingham County Newspapers, the new name under which Hampton Union and its associated papers are published.

Under the name of Rockingham County Newspapers, it seemed fitting in its 75th anniversary year, that Hampton Union would move back to Hampton where it originated. A search for office space began and on January 1, 1975 Hampton Union relocated to 58 Winnacunnet Road, Hampton. Robert M. Herbert, former editor of The Peabody Mass. Times was brought in as general manager.

(Footnote: The foregoing article was written for the 75th Anniversary edition of Hampton Union and published on July 23, 1975. Additional information on the history of Hampton Union may be found in Peter E. Randall's " HAMPTON: A Century of Town and Beach, 1888-1988 " on pages 609 through 614 in the chapter titled "Earning A Living".)

Rites Today For Founder of Hampton Union


July 10, 1866 -- May 22, 1950

Hampton Union , Thursday, May 25, 1950

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online .]

Charles Francis Adams, founder of Hampton Union , passed away Monday, May 22, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Constance Billings, at Kittery Point, Maine.

He was born in Sherborn, Mass., July 10, 1866, the son of Alden and Charlotte (Fales) Adams.

From 1897 to 1899, he served on the Massachusetts Gypsy Moth Commission.

Always a staunch Republican, Mr. Adams represented Hampton at the New Hampshire General Court during the years of 1927 to 1939. During these years he had been a member of practically every house committee.

Among his other public services, Mr. Adams was special justice of the Hampton Municipal Court from 1911 to 1936, served as deputy town clerk for three years and for eight years was town auditor.

He was a member of the Hampton Historical Society and served for many years as secretary of the Shore and Beach Preservation and Development Commission.

A resident of Hampton since 1899, the year he established the Union , Mr. Adams had lived in Kittery since March of this year. Before coming to Hampton, he had been editor of the Framingham (Mass.) Tribune from 1888 to 1891; founded the Spencer (Mass.) Leader ; owned and edited the Leicester (Mass.) Banner until 1893 when he purchased the Cape Cod Independent at Falmouth.

Survivors include his daughter, Constance, and two sisters, Mrs. Charlotte Dose and Miss Harriett S. Adams of Sherborn, Mass.

Funeral services will be held this afternoon, May 25, at 2:00 p.m. from Sturgis Funeral home. Burial will be in the High Street Cemetery.