Rye Woman Shares Old Papers
By Terrill Covey, Hampton Union Staff Writer
Hampton Union, Friday, September 22, 2000
HAMPTON — Hampton Union office received a blast from the past this week.
Jennifer Whitall, of Rye, stopped by with copies of what was then called "The Hamptons Union" from 1900 through 1908. These old newspapers provided some interesting insight into the history of the Seacoast area.
She shared a special issue — from exactly 100 years ago today.
The Sept. 22, 1900 issue devoted a large section on the front page to the visit by the battleships Kearsarge and Alabama to Portsmouth. The visit was historic because the namesakes of these two boats had battled only 36 years earlier during the Civil War.
On June 19, 1864, in a battle off of the coast of France, the Kearsarge, with a crew of men mostly from New Hampshire, sank the Confederate ship Alabama.
The new Alabama, and the new Kearsarge visited Portsmouth 36 years later, on September 22, 1900.
While they were in port, the State of New Hampshire donated bronze plaques to the Kearsarge and Alabama battleships to "bind together in stronger chains of brotherhood and friendship the North and South" and to symbolize the "union of our country."
Other news from the old Hamptons Union included:
* Three men escaped from Brentwood prison, and were last seen "running into the distance towards Portsmouth, to where all city roads lead this weekend." The article also says, "When the opportunity presented itself, they accepted it."
* There was also a preview for the Amesbury Fair discussing what events and attractions would be at the 1900 fair.
* Another story was about a woman who was combing her hair when she fell down the stairs in her house and severely lacerated her head.
* A devastating fire ripped through Salisbury beach destroying several buildings. It was started by a boy starting a fire in an alley.
* There was also a train wreck, which was the biggest ever, at the time, in the White Mountain.
Whitall is a bit of a local historian. She is particularly interested in the Seacoast area, and the Isle of Shoals. She said she was very excited to find this newspaper, along with nearly a hundred other issues from 1900 to 1908.
"It's totally unbelievable to be able to see these," she said. "They chronicle roads being built. They have advertisements introducing Jello as the newest desert."
She found the newspapers in a Portsmouth antiques shop with a chair resting upside down on top of them, and thought, at first, that they were reprints.
"I was excited when I realized that they weren't," Whitall said. "It's really interesting to read about how life was back then."