John Lyons John Campbell & Morphy Appleton Bridge Settlements

John  Lyons  John Campbell & Morphy Appleton Bridge Settlements

The old and the new bridge at Appleton-North Lanark Regional Museum (2012.87.2)

Abraham Lincoln Morphy was born in 1864 and married at age 23 to Rebbecca Conn. He had 6 children: Hugh Franklin Morphy, Norman A Morphy and 4 others. Abe was the son of Abraham Sr. Of Ramsay and a brakeman for the C.P.R. He passed away in 1899 at age 35, drowning in the Mississippi River below the Appleton Falls –read–The Day the Appleton Bridge Collapsed

April 9 1899 Carleton Place

In April of 1899 Coroner Burns of Almonte held an inquest into the death of the late Abraham Lincoln Morphy, the body being then at the house of deceased’s father, Abram Morphy, corner of William street and the 8th line of Ramsay.

The following Jury was impanelled : Alex. H. Edwards, foreman ; Richard McLaren, Samuel Tetlock, Lachlan, Mccallum, John Taylor, Hugh M. Williams. Frederick Strong, David Moffatt. Benjamin T. Williams. J. H. Greig. Henry Ferguson, Charles Glover, Frederick Hollingsworth, and John F. Halpenny.

Evidence was taken from Milton Teskey, J. A. Teskey and John Montgomery of Appleton ; John Morphy of Potsdam, N.Y. and John Morphy and John Lyons of Carleton Place, the latter witness being the man who so narrowly escaped the sad fate that befel his companion.

After reviewing the evidence the jury returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased Abraham Lincoln Morphy Came to his death by drowning, through the collapse of the bridge across the Mississippi river at the village of Appleton, and from the evidence the jury conclude that the said bridge has been unsafe for over a year, and moreover the Jury was of the opinion that the corporation of the township of Ramsay had been guilty of culpable negligence with regard to, the said bridge.

And that readers is why bridges need to be replaced when they come to that type of condition.

Poor Mrs. Morphy had a young family. What was she going to do for money, so she sued and asked for $20,000. What did she get? Mr. Justice Rose, the presiding judge, suggested that counsel make an effort to settle the matter, and this was done, $2,000 being paid to the widow and $500 to each child —- making a total costs of $4,500 and costs. Two other action arising out of the same accident were pending, being the action by, Mr. Lyons, of Carleton Place Place, who was with Mr.Morphy at the time, and was thrown into the water but escaped. He wanted $1000 and that of Mr. Campbell, whose horses and carriage were destroyed and asked for $550. My Lyons got $312 and $45 dollars cost and Mr. Campbell received $300 plus $45 cost. In December of 1899 the township of Ramsay alerted taxpayers that taxes were being raised to $11,500 to help with the building of the new Appleton Bridge and the costs of the trial.

Mary Ann Bobier Morphy passed away in 1918, at age 84..

almonte gazettte 1899-April 21, 1899

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
11 May 1899, Thu  •  Page 2
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
18 Apr 1899, Tue  •  Page 7

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
12 Aug 1899, Sat  •  Page 7
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
21 Dec 1899, Thu  •  Page 2
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
30 Dec 1899, Sat  •  Page 2
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
04 Jan 1900, Thu  •  Page 8
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
07 Oct 1899, Sat  •  Page 6

Why the Appleton Bridge Collapsed…

The Day the Appleton Bridge Collapsed

Lawsuits in Carleton Place — The Collapse of the Appleton Bridge

From the CARLETON PLACE HERALD – April 1899.

The Appleton Bridge Goes Down and Carries Ab. Morphy, Jr. to a Watery Grave

    Yesterday morning, a few minutes after o’clock, a carriage load, consisting of Mr. John Lyons, wife and child, Mr. John Morphy, and wife, and Mr. Ab. Morphy, jr., all of Carleton Place, drove down to Appleton with the object of attending the funeral of Mr. Morphy’s aunt, Mrs. Dulmage. As they approached the bridge at Appleton they were warned that the structure was none too safe, and that it would be better to divide the load before driving across. This they did, Mr. and Mrs. John Morphy and the little boy and Mrs. Lyons getting out, the other two, Ab. Morphy and Mr. Lyons starting across with the carriage. On reaching the middle of the bridge, the structure gave away and allowed carriage, horses and all to drop into the stream below, which at present is much swollen with the spring freshets and very swift. For a moment the carriage remained, stationary, as though on bottom, and Mr. Lyons throw off his great coat and unhitched one of the horses, by which time the animals became impatient and plunged which took them out of the eddy caused by the pier and threw them into the swift current. Morphy, who was a good swimmer, struck out for one of the small piers nearby and just about reached it when the timbers of the bridge struck him and he sank out of sight. He was seen a few minutes later below the falls by Miss Beckett, with a hand upraised, land then sank out of sight. Lyons was carried down the stream with the current and over the falls, where a piece of timber struck him which he caught and clung to until rescued nearly half an hour later away down in the bay by Mr. A.E Teskey.

Mr. Lyons was almost exhausted when taken out and was at once conveyed to the home of Mr. J.A. Teskey, where restoratives were applied and medical aid was summoned He was very much chilled and received a tremendous nervous shock, besides the bruising he must have sustained in his fall and his passage over the falls and through the rapids, but was able to sit up in the afternoon and is almost fully restored the morning.


A search was immediately instituted to recover the body of Morphy, but it was o’clock in the afternoon before the remains were brought to the surface. They were found about 150 yards below the falls. The body was taken home to Carleton Place. The deceased young man was a son of Mr. Ab. Morphy, sen., and was 35 years of age. He was a brakeman on the C.P.R., and leaves a wife and four children to mourn his sudden call He was a young man of good repute and highly esteemed among his fellows, and the sympathy of the whole community flows out to the bereaved family in their deep sorrow. He was a member of the A.O.U.W. and the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen


The bridge was a wooden structure which has weathered the breeze for many spring freshets, being built over forty years ago, and has for a long time been considered anything but safe. Beneath the long spans, bents were placed, but in the spring these would usually be damaged or carried away with the ice. On Saturday evening last the bent beneath the fatal span was taken away with the ice, and the bridge was temporarily strengthened by the pathmaster placing a timber above the bridge and chaining this to the stringer below. On Monday another prop went with the ice. As an evidence of the dangerous condition of the structure, the Ramsay Council at its last meeting receive a petition signed by 75 ratepayers, praying, for a new bridge, and a deputation backed up the petition. The result was a motion to ask for tenders for a new structure, but the action seems unfortunately to have been a day too late.


The funeral has been fixed for tomorrow afternoon, at 3 o’clock, to Cram’s cemetery. It will be attended by the members of the A.O.U.W. and the Railway Trainmen

Both horses were drowned, and the carriage is a wreck. They belonged to Mr. John Campbell, liveryman of this town.

During the afternoon a number of the C.P.R. trainmen went down to Appleton to aid in the search for the body. Mr. J.R. Hamilton, in a conversation with Miss Mattie Beckett, ascertained about the spot where Mr. Morphy was last seen by her with his hand raised as he went down for the last time. He with Frank Towsley, took a boat and went directly to the spot, grappling the body at once on reaching it.

One of the horses was seen floating through Almonte late in the afternoon yesterday.

                                            AN INQUEST

Has been demanded, and is in progress this afternoon as we go to press.

           The Coroner’s Jury Bring a Verdict of Culpable Negligence

“That said Abraham L. Morphy came to his death by drowning on the 17th day of April, 1899, when crossing the bridge at Appleton, over the Mississippi River, the bridge having given way. From the evidence obtained, and after consideration, we find that the said bridge has been in an unsatisfactory condition for the last year or more, and that the corporation of the township of Ramsay is guilty of culpable negligence.”


Thomas Willis is shown by Beldon’s Lanark County Atlas of 1880 to have been an inhabitant of the new village of Morphy’s Falls in its first year, and to have given his daughter in marriage then to John Morphy.  John (b.1794, d.1860), another of the family of six sons and two daughters of Edmond Morphy, built his home for his bride at the east end of Mill Street on the present Bates & Innes lands.  It stood there for over fifty years after his death, and last served as the watchman’s house of the Bates & Innes mill.  The large family of John Morphy and his wife Mary Willis, raised in that pioneer home, included Abraham Morphy of Ramsay, near Carleton Place; and Elizabeth, Mrs. Richard Dulmage of Ramsay, who was born in 1821 as the first child born to the first settlers in Morphy’s Falls.

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s