29 Oct 2008
TRAVEL: A Visit with the Hotel del Coronado's Ghost
By Jacquie Kubin, Donne Tempo
Journeying to historic hotels to encounter the guests that never check out is a pastime of many travelers, particularly at Halloween. According to many recorded events, the ghost of the young woman found shot on the beach steps of the Hotel del Coronado in November of 1892 still inhabits that Victorian landmark propert making this a favorite year-round destination for fans of the spirit world.
Why? Because the ghost of the Hotel del Coronado holds a special fascination for many. It may be that her story –a young, possibly pregnant woman traveling alone strikes a chord. Her story is heartbreaking. It may be that her life, and death, remains very much a mystery.
The name on the hotel register is that of Mrs. Lottie A. Bernard, of Detroit. The police at the time determined that was a false name, and that the “Beautiful Stranger” as the press named her, was actually Kate Morgan and her death was ruled a suicide.
The ghost of a young woman, presumed to be that of the young woman found shot on the beach steps of the Hotel del Coronado in November of 1892, still inhabits the Victorian landmark property. The hotel’s official account of the story is recorded in the book “Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado.
But is that book, and the police circa 1892’s conclusion correct? Bonnie Vent of the San Diego Paranormal Research Project is a “Spirit Advocate” in that she provides an “active voice” to spirits. She has spoken to the ghost, and she says it was not Kate, but Lottie Bernard who died that winter morning.
Donne Tempo: Who is the ghost of the Hotel del Coronado?
Bonnie Vent: She claims that she is Lottie Bernard (as registered) not Kate Morgan. This claim is backed up by quite a bit of historical evidence. Kate Morgan was a domestic living in Los Angeles under the assumed name of Katie Logan.
She was reported missing by her employer when she did not return after a one day trip to get a paper signed. There is no historical evidence or known motive that places Kate Morgan in San Diego.
We have tracked Joseph Jones (a key witness) through historical research. He signed into the Hotel del Coronado right after Lottie Bernard. When word spread of her death a bellman is quoted in the local newspaper saying that Joseph Jones saw her and a gentleman escort on the train when he got on in Denver. This makes sense since Lottie Bernard’s hotel registration says she is from Detroit.
Joseph Jones was in town on business, left the hotel several days after the death for business reasons and then returned back to the hotel. He is not Tom Morgan under an assumed name; he is just going about his normal business. Speaking of the real Tom Morgan, he did not ride rails and gamble, he was a postal worker in Nebraska and estranged from Kate Morgan.
This information comes from a direct descendant of Tom Morgan. Lottie was not pregnant either. She had quinine in her room because she suffered from neuralgia. Quinine was the preferred treatment for neuralgia. It would seem that there was some political pressure to resolve this case.
The Hotel del Coronado was supposed to be an oasis from the Wild West that was San Diego at that time. Unclaimed dead ladies were bad for business. This could have been cleared up at the time if a next of kin had stepped forward, no one ever did. Kate Morgan grandfather paid for Lottie Bernard’s burial, but no one ever came to identify the body.
Lottie has expressed her gratitude to Kate Morgan’s family for taking care of her burial, but she is also saddened that this gesture sealed her fate to be misidentified forever. Both names appear on the grave marker.
DT: How did you first make contact with her?
BV: She contacted me. I was doing a photo shoot for San Diego Magazine. I had always been aware of her but she had never tried to make contact. I found out a few months later that the reason she was trying to get my attention was the area where she died was going to be used for new condos. She was not happy about this.
When I went back a few months later I could see why she was upset. I took a fellow researcher with me. It was then that she started providing information about who she really was. She gave me images as well as being able to hear her words. I passed these messages along to my research partner who took notes on the details. He has done some extremely deep research that cannot be found on the internet.
She and I have become close enough now that I do allow her to come directly through. This is the most accurate way to get her messages out.
DT: How often does Lottie contact you?
BV: We have talked to Lottie four times now. When we receive new information from Lottie or other spirit people my research partner must do the historical research on the new information. This can be a very time consuming process.
DT: Did she say how she died -- suicide or foul play?
BV: She thought that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time and takes responsibility for violating the rules of etiquette of her day. It had not occurred to her that the man who shot her was aiming at her. Recently another spirit person came forward who was a witness to the shooting. This has provided some more information that we are currently researching.
DT: Who is the other "spirit" person?
BV: For now I can only say that she is claiming to be a witness and has provided information that is consistent with certain locations at the hotel that are accurate for 1892. The hotel has changed quite a bit over the years, but my research partner has access to the original configuration of the hotel. As a medium this is very exciting, since I have not seen the original drawings and they are not available to me. The information is contrary to present day thus making it impossible to be receiving “this world” environmental cues.
DT: Is she still at the Hotel del or has she moved on?
She is still there. We last spoke with her on July 7, 2008. She is concerned about the unsavory legend that is not remotely true.
She is also concerned that no one looked for Kate Morgan after the misidentification occurred. She would also like to know what happened to her gentleman escort.
We are trying to get the answers for her so that perhaps she will not feel compelled to stay.
DT: You have collected a lot of information on Lottie Bernard, what will you do with it?
BV: My research partner and I plan to write a book that will document all the evidence collected as well as telling a very real, personal, and compelling story of a wonderful Victorian lady, who has kept the grace and beauty from her time along with constantly learning about present day events.
Yes, she is aware of us, and even is learning new words. She has a delightful sense of humor and is very companionate. Video is available at our web site.
DT: Have any of your contacts fully explained what it means to die? What happens to the spirit us, versus the bodily us?
BV: The death process is different for each person. I have many channeled stories from spirit people who have crossed and just wanted to let us know about their process. This is different than those that are still present because of unresolved issues.
Most speak of a life review process, some were greeted by a family member and some were not. Just as life is a unique and personal process, so is death. One thing I can say for sure is that all have survived the process and their personalities persists.
Hotel del Coronado
1500 Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA 92118