By Richard I. Gibson
|Casey Block: Gertie probably lived in |
the basement apartment here.
Her office was next door (to the left).
Photo by Dick Gibson
When Gustav died in 1930, he and his wife had an office at 511 Metals Bank and they lived at 663 Colorado with one Henry Davis. The following year, Gertie moved her office to 616 Metals Bank and married William Van Orden, who had retired from the Butte Police Department in 1929. She presumably moved to his residence at 119½ Hamilton Street, in the basement of the Casey Block at the corner of Hamilton and Granite. She was definitely living there by 1934.
Gertie maintained her office at 616 Metals Bank until 1940, when the office was relocated to the top floor, #85, in the Hirbour Tower at Broadway and Main. The 1940 directory is confusing in listing her residence as Columbia Gardens (there was a small neighborhood of that name near the amusement park) but it seems that she was also maintaining the residence with Van Orden on Hamilton Street. She’s back there by 1942, when her office relocated again, to 115 Hamilton, the Maley Block just south of the Casey Block. It was from this location that she sold babies into adoption in the 1940s and 1950s.
|Casey Block (photo from Piccadilly |
Transportation Museum web site)
Gertie died April 19, 1960, and is buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery. 115 Hamilton was vacant in 1960.
Criminal charges were brought against Gertrude Pitanken three times: in 1929, for botched abortions, falsified death certificate, “not proved;” in 1936 (dismissed; later sanity commission declared her sane); and in 1939-40 – arrested at home (Columbia Gardens), charges were dropped. Gertie allegedly had incriminating information about city officials including judges, which resulted in her cases being dismissed. Whether that’s true or not is unknown.