Photograph of Kate Morgan taken circa 1886
|Died||November 28, 1892 (aged 27-28)|
|Other names||Lottie A. Bernard|
|Known for||Ghost of the Hotel del Coronado|
Kate Morgan (c. 1864 – 1892), born Kate Farmer, 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.
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, young Kate 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.
Around 1890, Kate Morgan ran off with Albert Allen, a stepson of Thomas's stepmother, Emily Dennison Allen Morgan.
This relationship also did not appear to have lasted. Although there are very few records of Morgan's life at this time, the next time she was reported sighted, she was ill and alone.
Her next appearance was at the Hotel del Coronado in 1892. She arrived in late November, checking in under the name "Mrs. Lottie A. Bernard, Detroit." The staff reported that she seemed ladylike, beautiful, reserved and well-dressed, but troubled and very melancholy.
She was found dead on November 29, 1892, on the exterior staircase of the Hotel del Coronado 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. A San Francisco lawyer, Alan May, speculated in the 1980s that her death involved foul play. Evidence for the alleged homicide was a passing statement, during the coroner's inquest, that the bullet found in her head did not match that of her own gun. This speculation renewed interest in the subject, though officials who reviewed the case say it was not
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 It avoids speculation in its research of historical documents available in local public libraries, historical societies, and university libraries as well as city hall and police files.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. John T. Cullen has written two: his first, updated in 2008, 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 Girardot's 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. Tom's granddaughter provided him with the photograph of Kate seen on this page.
In popular culture
Although the band has not released any relevant information regarding this subject, Kate Morgan's passing is thought by many to be the inspiration for The Album Track Coronado from the album Halcyon Digest by Indie Group Deerhunter.
Eve Selis wrote a song called the Ballad of Kate Morgan in her 2004 Album Nothing But the Truth.
Musician Joe Carey wrote a song called Beautiful Stranger which he released with his band, The Chinwaggers, on their 2014 album Wayward Son.
According to producer David Fury, the 24: Live Another Day character Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) is named after her.
- Gravestone, Mt. Olive Cemetery, Hamburg, Iowa.
- Affidavit of Joseph Chandler, August 12, 1879, in the matter of the Estate of George W. Farmer.
- National Archives, Old Military and Civil Records.
- Biography of Henry Eubank, "Wheatheart of the Plains - An Early History of Ochiltree County, 1969.
- Affidavit of B. M. Burke, County Clerk, McCullouch County, Texas, July 7, 1880, in the matter of the Estate of George W. Farmer.
- Marriage certificate.
- Gravestone, Utterback Cemetery, Riverton, Iowa.
- Written statement by Tom Morgan's daughter.
- Alan M. May. The Legend of Kate Morgan: The Search for the Ghost of the Hotel del Coronado. ISBN 1-122-26574-3.
- Official website, Hotel del Coronado, History
- Official Heritage Dept. Book, The Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and The Hotel del Coronado ISBN 978-0-916251-73-4.