September 28, 1999
Carl and Doris Bragg Recall Passion For News
By Steve Jusseaume, Staff Writer
And Carl Bragg did It all.
Bragg, who lives in retirement on George Avenue in Hampton with his wife, Doris, recalled recently the days when he ran Hampton Union with publisher Edward S. Seavey, Jr. That was between 1936 and 1963, when the newspaper was actually a sideline to the Hampton Publishing Company’s primary focus as a printing shop.
Doris’ father, Edward Seavey Sr., had purchased the newspaper from its founder, Charles Francis Adams, in about 1929. The paper was originally published in a building at 92 High St. near Towle Avenue, Bragg said.
Seavey moved the operation to what used to be the Goody Cole Room at Lamie’s Tavern, on the corner of Lafayette Road and Exeter Road. He eventually built a new home for the paper at the southerly end of Mill Road.
Carl and Doris Bragg married in 1936, and Doris’ brother Edward Jr. bought the paper from his father that same year. Then Carl got involved, buying a one-quarter interest in the publication.
Doris recalled "setting up the books, but that’s all I did. There were a lot of girls in town who worked there. I’d fold newspapers, collate, but I was not involved that much.
"My brother bought it and moved the paper to Lafayette Road to a building just south of the laundry on the east side of Route 1 just north of downtown. It used to be a garage, the Chase & Hackett Garage. That was in about 1939." Doris recalled.
The paper had been published at 20 Mill Road between 1932 and 1939, before the move to Route 1.
Bragg’s association with the Hampton Union ended abruptly when Edward Seavey Jr. died suddenly, at age 49 of a heart attack at his summer cottage in Barrington. That was 1963 and shortly thereafter the business was bought by J. Wesley Powell. a politician who would become the governor of New Hampshire. Doris said the purchase was politically motivated.
"Powell came in and bought it from Edward Jr.’s widow, who owned 75 percent. And he also bought out our 25 percent share. Powell bought the whole thing, the publishing company and everything. He dIdn’t know anything about publishing but wanted the paper for his political career," Doris said.
Though Doris was never personally involved in newspaper decisions, she laughed when recalling some of the weighty issues the paper took stands on when her husband was running the operation with her brother.
She recalled that the Union stood firmly against a plan by the town to turn over the seawall to the state, and also on a state proposal to build a toll road just inland, a highway that would later become Interstate 95,
'The paper was against the seawall plan, and then when they wanted to build the toll road the paper was against that. We feared the town would become isolated. There’d be weeds growing in the streets," Doris said, smiling.
Then. when town officials had ideas of building a "new concept school" where each grade would be located in a different building on a campus, the paper came down hard.
'We took a stand against that one. The paper campaigned against the idea and eventually town officials dropped the whole thing." Doris said.
"We fought a lot of battles over the years. and we won some and lost some,"
"We were a credit to the town, to the local community." Carl said. "The paper had a good reputation and was very well respected."