Was “Little Gertie, the Gold Dollar” Real?

Marshall Trimble True West Magazine

Was “Little Gertie, the Gold Dollar” real?

Ramona Briggs
Denver, Colorado

Old West boomtowns had a shortage of eligible women, a void often filled by soiled doves. One such red-light district denizen was “Little Gertie, the Gold Dollar.”

A feisty, petite gal with long, golden tresses, Gertie plied her trade in Tombstone, Arizona Territory, around 1880. Her nickname became “Gold Dollar”—the cost of earning her favors.

Gertie gold dollar true west magazine
“Little Gertie, the Gold Dollar”

Another lady of ill repute, Margarita, wanted to steal away Gertie’s man, Billy Milgreen. One night at the Bird Cage Theatre, Gertie caught Margarita sitting in Milgreen’s lap. She grabbed a handful of Margarita’s long, dark hair and threw her to the floor. The fight continued until Gertie grabbed a stiletto stashed in her garter and stabbed Margarita to death.

Gertie and Milgreen disappeared from town. Margarita got a grave at Boothill.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu.

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Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.