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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.Lottiepedia

General Sequence of Events

Summary. The various Lottiepedia elements on this site, and in Dead Move form a striking body of evidence supporting my evaluation of what really happened surrounding the Beautiful Stranger's last days and her death at the Hotel del Coronado in 1892.

Earlier in 1892 to Early Fall 1892. In San Francisco, Kate Morgan becomes aware of John Spreckels' acquisition of full ownership in the Hotel del Coronado some 500 miles south near the Mexican border. In Hawai'i and San Francisco, Sugar Baron Claus Spreckels and his brilliant first son John Spreckels foresee the fall of the monarchy and the loss of their sugar can fields unless they can convince President Benjamin Harrison and the opposition Congress not to invade and seize sovereign Hawai'i. In Detroit, a factory foreman named John Longfield, married and with three children, has an affair with one of his underlings. She is the beautiful, poised 24 year old Lizzie Wyllie. Lizzie's sister May also works at Winn Hammond Printers, Binders, and Engravers.    TOP

Early Fall 1892. John Longfield gets Lizzie pregnant, though she will not 'show' at any point during her remaining life (which will end 29 November at the Hotel del Coronado). All three—John, Lizzie, and May—are fired from their jobs, probably because of a row over the scandal. John is now in trouble with his family, lacks an income, and has a pregnant young mistress who wants to marry him. By coincidence, Kate Morgan arrives in Detroit on her many travels. She has a history of traveling around the country, working temporary jobs under assumed names as a domestic servant in wealthy households. She changes jobs often, and the many aliases suggest she is an accomplished grifter. Meeting John Longfield, and hearing of his pregnant girlfriend problem, she concocts the plot to blackmail John Spreckels.    TOP

Early November 1892. With Kate as their leader, Kate, John, and Lizzie leave Detroit for Southern California. John tells his wife he will be looking for work in Cleveland, but keeps only a General Delivery address so the wife cannot reach him. Arriving in Los Angeles, they separate. John stays with Kate, while Lizzie takes at least three successive, short-term domestic positions under the alias Katie Logan. The name is an anagram for Kate Morgan, as a help to the rather muddle-headed, dreamy young Lizzie. It goes well, except that Lizzie blurts out to another domestic: "My name is Lizzie," and then quickly adds "...but I go by Kittie because I like that name better." (She has blurted out her real name, and then can't get her alias straight). Her fibs in Coronado will arouse suspicion as well, like her claim she is suffering from stomach cancer, when in fact she is taking 'terrible medicines' (per Dr. B. F. Mertzmann) to induce a miscarriage. This is all part of Kate Morgan's plot to blackmail John Spreckels. In Hawai'i, meanwhile, events are rapidly moving toward the coming coup d'etat that will depose the queen on 20 January 1893, and end Hawai'i's sovereign nation status forever. With that, the Spreckelses will lose their fortune in sugar cane, so it's a desperate time for them. Kate Morgan is likely unaware of this, but the Spreckels Machine (John owns virtually everything in San Diego and Coronado by now) cannot afford to allow any hint of scandal to hurt John's chances of persuading U.S. President Benjamin Harrison to curtail the coming U.S.-led coup in Honolulu.   TOP

23-29 November 1892. While Claus Spreckels is conducting last-minute shuttle diplomacy between San Francisco and Honolulu, John is in Washington, lobbying extensively with the President and Congress. In San Diego, Kate Morgan has informed Lizzie that it's time for their blackmail plot, so Lizzie travels to San Diego. She disappears for a full day (the Missing Day) but is spotted by a hotel guest (Mr. Joseph E. Jones) on the train heading west to Anaheim, tearfully arguing with a dark-looking man who can only be John Longfield. Lizzie arrives on the train, alone henceforth, though she will keep frantically asking for her alleged brother, Dr. M. C. Anderson and his wife (code for Kate and John). Lizzie walks up C Street to the Hotel Brewster, asks vainly for the Andersons, and collects her 'terrible medicine.' She takes the ferry to Coronado. On arrival, she registers at the Hotel del Coronado as Mrs. Lottie A. Bernard (another alias). Assigned to Room 302, she asks bellman Harry West to bring her an empty bottle and clean sponge from the bar. She tips him an entire day's wages, as he relates later with amazement. The bottle is for mixing her abortifacient medicine, while the sponge is to insert as a pessary in her vagina so the medicine can work on her lower organs. She arrive hale and strong, but the medicines make her a weak, depressed wreck who can hardly walk. On November 28, she effortfully goes into San Diego, buys a gun, and shoots herself in the dead that night during an enormous ocean storm. Now begins the search for her identity, which overnight becomes a national sensation. The legend of the Beautiful Stranger is born.   TOP

Aftermath. While various I.D.s are attempted by police in San Diego and Los Angeles, the Beautiful Stranger lies in state. She is the quintessential Fallen Victorian Angel celebrated by all great writers, artists, and composers of the Victorian age. She is, for example, Thomas Hardy's Tess D'Urberville made flesh. Thousands of adoring fans throng the street outside Johnson & Co. Mortuary, where she lies in state in a show window like Maurice Ravel's Enfante Perdue (Dead Princess) of Pavane fame. Speculation rages, fueled by daily if not hourly telegraph dispatches across the USA. Who was she? Was she engaged in sex and other illicit activities with men in high places? The enigma of the Beautiful Stranger will endure for over a century. In San Diego, the Spreckels Machine, covering for John Spreckels launches an instant and successful smoke screen coverup that deflects attention from dead, pregnant Lizzie to a grifter named Kate Morgan. The legend of Kate and Tom as gamblers and crooks, possibly even murderers, is born. Kate Morgan and John Longfield get away, with John returning to his family in Detroit, and Kate (her name ruined and left behind with Lizzie's body) disappears into history. In Detroit, Mrs. Wyllie and May mourn their lost Lizzie. In Honolulu, U.S. corporate interests, led by the Dole Pineapple dynasty, strike, depose the queen, and announce a short-lived "republic" whose first and only president is Dole who will shortly ask the U.S. to intervene and annex Hawai'i as a U.S. territory. Claus Spreckels, always landing on his feet, starts a new sugar fortune based on beets near Monterey, California. John Spreckels moves permanently to San Diego in 1906, and becomes its leading citizen. The Hotel del Coronado will remain in his name well into the early 20th Century.   TOP

And What of Lizzie? After an elaborate High Church funeral, she is utterly forgotten. Her body is thrown into a rude wooden box, loaded onto a donkey cart, and driven (alone, without a procession or a soul to see her off) to a cemetery outside town (Mount Hope, today on Market Street within the city). There, she is dropped into a hastily dug, unmarked grave whose location is remembered only by coordinates recorded in the office register. About ninety years later, author Alan May claims to have dinners and seances with the ghost in her long-ago room. May places a marker on her grave, and publishes a book full of spurious claims. Alan May's one accomplishment is to rekindle interest in the case, which has long been suppressed by the hotel management. In 2006, this author takes a part-time job in the Transportation Department at the Hotel, reads the hotel's official book, and decides the case can be solved. In 2008, he publishes his results in a scholarly, nonfiction analysis titled Dead Move: Kate Morgan and the Haunting Mystery of Coronado.   TOP