Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Who Was The Beautiful Stranger? Part 3

Continued from Part 2 - Who Was The Beautiful Stranger?

"So was this gentleman that Jones saw, John Longfield?  I truly doubt it. You see, Longfield actually went back to his hometown of Cleveland to work when he left town, and he was not accompanied by Miss Lizzie Wyllie. In fact, Longfield's wife claimed that when she asked him about Lizzie, he explained that he was not with her, he had no idea what anyone was talking about and that Lizzie had went back to Canada.

Elizabeth Wyllie, Lizzie's mother, was from Scotland and had made her way to the U.S. through Canada. The newspapers mention Lizzie's sister as a May Wyllie however I believe she was actually Mary Wyllie who was born in Canada, which could have been where Lizzie was born, thus no records of birth in our U.S. databases. As for Longfield, if he is the same John Longfield that I traced, he was born in Cleveland and lived in Detroit.

According to census, marriage, birth and death records,  Longfield returned to Detroit and stuck around Michigan for the remainder of his life. He was married, had two kids by 1899 and stayed with his wife the rest of his life, dying on August 22, 1938 in Michigan. 

The pieces of the puzzle of Miss Lizzie Wyllie were starting to come together. She left with no money to afford a long cross-country trip on train all the way to San Diego. Perhaps she went back to Canada, being that she hadn't even been in the U.S for more than a few years.  My guess is that the Wyllie family found out that she was still alive. That explains why they never came to identify or recover the remains. Possibly Lizzie eventually wired her mother and that could explain why the Wyllie’s faded into the background and Lizzie's name was never mentioned again in the papers.

This was a time when scandals, such as the disappearance of a daughter or the body of a young woman being discovered at an exclusive resort hotel, were uncommon. These type of stories made headlines nationwide. It was only natural that the two stories would somehow intertwine when the identity of the dead woman hadn't been discovered yet.  So, if it wasn't Lizzie Wyllie that died at the Hotel Del Coronado, then who could it be? The story certainly twists once again when the name of Kate Morgan starts to appear in the papers. Could it be that they discovered the true identity of the "Beautiful Stranger"? Or could this be another dead end?

When news broke in the papers about an unidentified woman that died in San Diego, there were a few people who came forward mentioning that they had known or employed a young woman who met her description. A lady in Orange County named Florence Howard wrote the coroner which the letter was even published in the Los Angeles Herald stating:

"Dear Sir,--- Would you be kind enough to send me as soon as possible a very careful description of the young woman who committed suicide at the Hotel del Coronado about the 29th of November, as I have good reason to believe that she was the same woman that stayed with us last summer for nine weeks. I judge from statements seen in the San Francisco and Los Angeles papers. She represented herself as being Miss Josie Brown, aged 24, of Detroit. She said her sister's name was a Mrs. Anderson. There was a young man here part of the time who said he was Miss Brown's brother, Dr. Brown of Detroit, although he had been in Minneapolis.  Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain yours,
respectfully,  (Miss) Florence S. Howard."--

Florence Howard was not the only one to inquire about this young woman. Strangely, another lady came forward with a trunk, claiming that it was in fact her employee that must have died at the Hotel Del Coronado that night.  Mrs. L.A. Grant of 917 South Hill Street, Los Angeles, came forward claiming that she had employed Katie Logan in her household as a maid. She stated that Katie mentioned she was separated from her husband who was a gambler but never mentioned any more about it.

When it came to Katie's disappearance, Mrs. Grant claimed that Katie had left on November 23rd and promised to return early in the morning to prepare for Thanksgiving, but she never returned. She was convinced that the items in the trunk would link her to the woman found dead in Coronado, and so the authorities began looking into yet another possible lead.

After opening the trunk, it was apparent that Katie Logan’s name was actually Kate Morgan.  Found among the belongings in the abandoned trunk, was  a tin with the name Louisa Anderson on it. Inside of it were photographs of several people, including a man with a beard and only the “Visalia” written on the back. A few photographs of children, a lock of hair that was marked “Elizabeth Morgan.”  The marriage certificate of Kate Farmer and Tom Morgan, dated December 30, 1885, and a photograph which was said to be of the Kate herself.

The newspapers were all over this new and incredible find, but the Los Angeles Herald’s opinion differed from what most authors state today.  The description of the photograph found in the trunk did not appear to match the likeness of the beautiful young woman who stayed at the Hotel del Coronado.

According to the newspaper, there was a "cabinet size photograph of Mrs. Morgan, found among others, shows her to be a woman of about 28 years of age, black eyes, large ears, rather large open face and somewhat course features; her mouth is rather large and lips thick. The photograph contained no marks and had evidently been taken recently. The photograph does not denote the appearance of a woman accustomed to stopping at first-class hotels as a guest, or one who wears lace shawls; neither does it show her to be pretty, and the features certainly are not those of a highly educated woman."-- Los Angeles Herald, December 9, 1892.

The opinion of the writer, that her "features certainly are not those of a highly educated woman,“  is  absurd. You cannot tell one's intellect by their appearance physically. However, you can tell a person's class and stature in society by the way they carry themselves and according to their dress. If Kate was well-to-do, why did she take up work as a domestic in Los Angeles? That question alone might make you wonder about her current financial state.

I have also wondered about the wardrobe Kate may have owned, and what she might have been wearing when she left the Grant residence in Los Angeles on November 23rd? Wouldn’t the Grant family have noticed if their maid was wearing elegant clothes when she left the house? Or could she have purchased them elsewhere? She did not take any luggage with her, or a change of clothes, and Mr. Grant said himself that she only left with a satchel.  And where did she go for an entire day, since “Lottie” did not check into the hotel at Coronado until Thursday the 24th?

Around the time the name Kate Morgan started to make the news, an interesting letter was published in the papers.  Signed only as A. D. Swarts, the letter offered contact information on Kate Morgan’s family, including her husband Tom, and her grandfather Joseph Chandler in Hamburg, Iowa.
Terry Girardot, the grand nephew of Tom Morgan, Kate Morgan’s husband, states that he believes the claim made by San Diego Chief of Police, that the woman found at the Hotel Del Coronado was without a doubt, Kate Morgan.  I had the pleasure of corresponding with Mr. Girardot, who is adamant about the story. He insists that Kate Morgan left her husband Tom, for his much older step-brother, Albert Allen.  According to genealogical information shared with me by Girardot, Tom Morgan’s father, Marsena Morgan married Allen’s step-mother, Emily Allen in 1871.  After Emily and Marsena Morgan married, the two families were tied to one another. He also pointed out that  G.L. Allen, another one of the Allen siblings, happened to be the man who wired Lottie Bernard money to the Hotel Del Coronado. 

According to Girardot, there were notations on the widely circulated photo of Kate Morgan stating that she had left her husband Tom, and ran off with another man.  Girardot shared with me scanned copies of the back of the photograph as well as older notations from Tom Morgan’s daughter which insinuate that Kate left Tom for his step brother, but it gives no name of which one.  Given this information, it is not hard to imagine the amount of embarrassment Kate caused both her family and Tom Morgan’s family.  Also, where was Mr. Albert Allen in this story? Did Kate leave him, too, or was he possibly the man she had been seen with at the station in Orange? "---  from the book "Stories of the Forgotten: Infamous, Famous & Unremembered" by J'aime Rubio (ISBN-13:  978-1523981175)

(Copyright - J'aime Rubio,
published blog in 2013, published book in 2016)

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