The Ghost of Kate Morgan

Nobody heard the gunshot.

It wasn’t until they found the woman’s body on the staircase that anyone knew there had even been a shooting.

The latter half of the 19th century seemed to be riddled with haunting stories, and the luxurious Hotel del Coronado near San Diego, California, was no exception. The hotel is now host to the ghost of Kate Morgan, who died in late 1892.

kate morgan

Does the ghost of Kate Morgan haunt the Hotel de Coronado?

The story of Kate Morgan is a fine example of a story with few facts that became embellished with many fictions and exaggerations. It is hard today to tell what really happened.

What we do know is that Kate was born about 1865 in Iowa. Her mother died when Kate was quite young, so she was sent to live with a grandfather. In 1885, she married a man named Thomas Morgan. The marriage was apparently an unhappy one, as Kate ran off with another man in 1890. The two headed west, although that relationship eventually disintegrated at some point, because when Kate arrived in Los Angeles in mid-1892, she was looking for work and she was alone. She eventually found work as a maid in one of the wealthier households, although she seemed to have problems fitting in with the family and staff of the households, as she worked in three different homes in two months.

In late November of 1892 she arrived in San Diego, again solo, and checked in to the Hotel del Coronado under the name of Lottie Bernard. She looked ill and seemed to get worse as time went on. She told concerned staff that she had cancer and was waiting for her brother, a doctor, to come and take care of her. As far as we know, Kate did not have a brother who was a doctor.

She bought a gun.

On November 29th, Kate Morgan’s body was discovered on an exterior stairway leading down to the beach. Her new gun was nearby and it appeared that a single gunshot to the head had ended her life. Her death was ruled a suicide, although that would be questioned almost a century later when a lawyer digging around the official files would state that the bullet that killed her was of a different caliber than her own gun. Regardless of this finding, a re-investigation was not opened.

Almost as expected, stories of the hotel room she had occupied being haunted began to circulate — and still do today. Reports of malfunctioning electrical equipment, unexplained cold spots and breezes, and shadowy phantoms are still claimed by guests of that room.

It appears that Kate Morgan was quite taken with the fancy hotel and decided not to check out.

Kate Morgan” Wikipedia, pulled 8/27/13
“Kate Morgan: Her Life and Death” website, pulled 8/27/13
Hotel Del Coronado” Paranormal Activity Investigators, pulled 8/27/13

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Doug MacGowan

Doug MacGowan lives on the San Francisco peninsula with his wife, a dog, and far too many cats. He has published five books on the topic of historic true crime. In his free time he enjoys reading.

Historic Mysteries