The Hopeless Death of Kate Morgan

The “Beautiful Stranger” checked in to the Hotel Del Coronado, but did she ever check out?

Heather Monroe

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Kate Morgan, Public Domain Image, Wikimedia Commons

On Thanksgiving day of 1892, an elegant woman walked into the lobby of the distinguished Hotel del Coronado. “The Del” was a new hotel then, and sprawled across the pristine beach of Coronado Island, south of San Diego, California. The woman was alone and used the door designated for unaccompanied ladies. She was dressed at the height of fashion but carried no luggage — just a handbag for the essentials. She registered under the name Mrs. Lottie A Bernard, from Detroit. The front desk assigned room 302 (Now room 3327). Little did anyone know, Lottie would be dead in five short days.

Hotel Del Coronado Registration book showing Lottie A Bernard’s check-in. Public Domain image at Ancestry.com

A woman traveling alone, without the accompaniment of a man, was unusual in 1892. So unusual, the Hotel del Coronado devoted an entire door to such women. The staff was concerned for the lonely traveler, but Lottie assured them her brother, Dr. Anderson, would arrive soon with her luggage, and take care of her. She explained that the two parted in Orange, California, but they made plans to reunite at the Hotel del Coronado.

Lottie remained in her room, usually. The housekeeper visited during her workday and learned that Lottie was 24-years-old and suffering from stomach cancer. Mrs. Bernard spoke sorrowfully of her health and hinted that she would not recover.

Hotel del Coronado Post card, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Each day, Lottie asked the hotel staff if her brother arrived or left a message for her. The answer was always no. Lottie made trips inland to the Brewster Hotel and ask for “Dr. and Mrs. Anderson,” but there were no guests registered under either of those names. Lottie grew more despondent each day with no word from her brother.

On the fourth day of her stay, Mrs. Bernard told the maid that she wanted to take a two-hour bath to try and ease her pain. The housekeeper thought this was a bad idea, and a long bath might worsen her condition. Mrs…

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Heather Monroe

Welcome readers! Heather Monroe is a genealogist and writer who resides in California with her partner and their nine children. •True Crime• History• Memoir•