Kate Morgan
Most Notorious Paranormal Experiences

Strange Case Of Kate Morgan

Kate Morgan was an American woman who died under mysterious circumstances, and is thought by locals to now haunt the Hotel del Coronado in Coronado, California. She was buried at nearby Mount Hope Cemetery in Division 5 Section 1.

Background

Kate Farmer was born in Fremont County, Iowa around the year of 1864. Her mother died on September 23, 1865, and at the age of two, she was sent to live with her maternal grandfather, Joe Chandler.

On November 9, 1870, Kate's father, George Washington Farmer, was appointed to be the Postmaster of Hamburg, Iowa. He remarried in 1871, fathered two more daughters and then moved to Texas, where he died in 1876.

On December 30, 1885 Kate married Thomas Edwin Morgan and they had one child, a boy, born on October 31, 1886; he lived only two days.

Around 1890 Kate ran off with Albert Allen, a stepson of Tom's stepmother, Emily Dennison Allen Morgan.

Kate was hired as a housemaid by the Grant family in Los Angeles and told her co-workers she was married to a gambler. From this statement, Tom Morgan was assumed to be the gambler in question, but in fact, he was a rural mail carrier in Burchard, Nebraska at the time of Kate's death on November 28, 1892.

Death

She was found dead on November 29, 1892, on the exterior staircase leading to the beach, of what was believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. This was five days after checking into the Hotel del Coronado in Coronado. A San Francisco lawyer, the late Alan May, speculated in the 1980s that her death involved foul play. Evidence for the alleged homicide was a passing statement (or misstatement), during the coroner's inquest, that the bullet found in her head did not match that of her own gun. Nevertheless, whatever the merits of his book, he did revive interest in the subject by causing a stir with his murder theory. Officials who reviewed his speculations chose not to reopen the case.

There has never been any concrete evidence that conclusively tied Kate Morgan to the death of "Lottie Bernard" at the Hotel del Coronado, although several authors have attempted to do so. Kate Morgan's family or friends never came to identify the body, and the photo of Kate Morgan given by her employer did not look anything like the "Beautiful Stranger" that described the deceased. According to the Los Angeles Herald, dated December 9, 1892, it states that "cabinet size photograph of Mrs. Morgan, found among others, shows her to be a woman of about 28 years of age, black eyes, large ears, rather large open face and somewhat course features; her mouth is rather large and lips thick. The photograph contained no marks and had evidently been taken recently. The photograph does not denote the appearance of a woman accustomed to stopping at first-class hotels as a guest, or one who wears lace shawls; neither does it show her to be pretty, and the features certainly are not those of a highly educated woman."

Haunting

There have been many putative ghost sightings, and other potential paranormal events at Hotel del Coronado since then. The official Hotel del Coronado website even mentions the ghost.

The hotel's Heritage Department has published an official book on this subject, written by the hotel's professional historian, titled The Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and The Hotel del Coronado. It avoids speculation in its research of historical documents available in local public libraries, historical societies, and university libraries as well as city hall and police files. The Heritage Department's book leans toward the official suicide verdict.

There are three other books available now. John T. Cullen has written two: his first, updated in 2008 is Dead Move: Kate Morgan and the Haunting Mystery of Coronado, Second Edition, is a non-fiction account of the mystery. His second is Lethal Journey, a novel published in August 2009.

The third book is The Ghost of the Hotel del Coronado, The TRUE Story of Kate Morgan, by Terry Girardot. Kate's husband, Tom Morgan, was the half-brother of his maternal grandmother, and his book contains full versions of all articles from the San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco newspapers from that period, along with documents from his genealogy research including the original telegram sent to Tom advising him of Kate's suicide.