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John T. Cullen's two books about the ghost at the Hotel del Coronado, and the 1892 crime that created her legend.1. Local Aspect—Hotel del Coronado, John Spreckels

Kate Morgan Blackmail Plot: Local Aspect of the Spreckels-Morgan Saga of 1892.

Local Plot—the Main Players John Spreckels, Kate Morgan, Lizzie Wyllie, and John Longfield figure most prominently in the ill-timed and ill-fated blackmail plot against John Spreckels at his Coronado hotel in 1892.

  • John Spreckels is the pivotal figure and key to the entire saga, both locally and globally. He was one of the wealthiest men in the nation. He was the scion of a great Hawai'i-California sugar fortune, created on the sugar plantations of Hawai'i by his father Claus Spreckels. As the blackmail plot played out at his hotel (which is a totally separate but inescapably relevant track), John Spreckels was in Washington, D.C. negotiating the future of Hawai'i's doomed monarchy and his family's sugar fortune with President Benjamin Harrison and Congress. Kate Morgan's plot could not have come at a worse time, and the resulting 120-year coverup was exercised by Spreckels' army of Pinkerton-type experts to shield him from scandal.
  • Kate Morgan was a sociopathic grifter from Iowa (age 26 in 1892) with a long history of traveling all over the western United States, and working temporary domestic jobs under aliases—which is a sure tip-off that she was up to no good. Until she hatched the Spreckels plot in Coronado, she probably contented herself with relatively minor crimes—seduction, extortion, petty theft. We know she frequented San Francisco, and evidently knew enough about John Spreckels to concoct a blackmail scheme that would threaten his reputation and his fortune.
  • Elizabeth 'Lizzie' Wyllie was a naive, beautiful young factory woman (age 24 in 1892) from Detroit. She had dreams of being a great stage actress, but succumbed to her foreman at Winn Hammond bookbindery, John Longfield. She was pregnant and desperate when she joined Kate Morgan's ill-fated scheme to blackmail John Spreckels at his hotel in Coronado.
  • John Longfield shows up in an 1890 Detroit city directory as a foreman (age perhaps about 30 in 1892) at the Winn & Hammond factory for printing, binding, and engraving books. He was Lizzie's foreman, and known to have 'ruined' (impregnated) her. He had a wife and three children, and a severe 'Lizzie problem' that Kate Morgan's daring scheme promised to solve for him.

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