The Legend of Gold Dollar
Tombstone has many famous legends that once walked the dusty streets and left their mark in the Wild West history. One of the lesser known legends was that of a dancer named Gold Dollar. She was first known as Little Gertie but with her long golden blonde hair, fair complexion and earning a gold dollar as payment for services bestowed, she was given the moniker “Gold Dollar”. She danced at the Crystal Palace saloon which was located near the Bird Cage Theatre. This woman was tiny in stature but very feisty and not to be messed with. Most of the women of this era were very protective of their men and Gold Dollar was no different.
Gold Dollar had taken a shine to a local gambler, Billy Milgreen, who passed himself off as someone influential. They lived together and she considered him to be her man. She threatened harm to any woman that touched and flirted with him. The women of Tombstone were afraid the petite prostitute and stayed away from Billy.
Trouble came to town in the name of Margarita, an attractive Mexican woman. With her creamy bronze skin, this sensual, graceful, mysterious woman with long black hair immediately set her dark eyes on Billy. She took a job as a soiled dove at the Bird Cage Theatre where many of the men along with Billy, were mesmerized by her beauty.
Margarita was aware of Gold Dollar and Billy’s relationship, but it didn’t stop her from flirting with the handsome gambler. The wrath of Gold Dollar was soon bestowed upon Margarita when she got wind of the bitch’s intentions. Even though she threatened Margarita with “cutting out her heart” if she didn’t back off, and Margarita continued flirting with Billy. Knowing what Gold Dollar was capable of, he promised her that he would have nothing to do with Margarita and would ignore all her flirtations.
One evening, Billy got wind of a high stakes poker game at the Bird Cage and wanted in on the action. Gold Dollar knew that Billy made his living gambling and grudgingly allowed him to play. She was working at the Crystal Palace that night and made him promise to stay away from Margarita. Excited about playing the game, he agreed whole heartedly and ran off to the Bird Cage.
While Billy concentrated on his cards and the game, Margarita flounced gracefully across the floor towards him trying to get his attention. Billy wanted to honor his promise to Gold Dollar but had trouble keeping his mind on the game as Margarita strutted around the table. After trying to get the gambler’s attention, she decided to plunk herself in his lap and overwhelm him with kisses.
Some stories say that Gold Dollar didn’t trust Billy being able to fight off Margarita’s affections and went down to the Bird Cage to check things out for herself. Other stories are that someone told her the hussy was putting moves on her man and she ran to the Bird Cage in a fit of anger. She busted through the doors and rushed over to where they were sitting. She grabbed a fistful of Margarita’s hair and pulled her off Billy.
The mystery of these women’s past paled in comparison to how Margarita was really killed by Gold Dollar. Here is what tales have been spun about the murder. After she was pulled off Billy, Margarita fought back against the petite woman but was no match for her enraged temper. Gold Dollar pulled out a 4 inch stiletto and stabbed her in the side. Before the doctor could reach her, Margarita died from her wounds. Other stories are told that she did indeed stab her in the chest and almost cut out her heart just like she had threatened to do. Margarita fell down and died instantly. When they called for the Sheriff, Gold Dollar ran out of the Bird Cage and hid the stiletto outside the building.
No murder charges were brought upon Gold Dollar because the murder weapon was never found. She ended up quietly leaving town, followed by Billy months later. It is not known exactly how many years later the stiletto was found, but it was discovered behind the Bird Cage. That stiletto is on eminent display inside the Bird Cage Theatre.
Many that work at the Bird Cage Theatre feel Margarita’s ghost is still hanging around the building. The lingering smell of cheap lilac perfume can by detected by the employees and visitors from time to time.