The woman behind the man
Born Cecilia Bertha Ringer on May 3, 1849, Bertha married Karl Benz on July 20, 1872. Together they had five children: Eugen (1873), Richard (1874), Clara (1877), Thilde (1882), and Ellen (1890). On August 5, 1888, Bertha (age 39) and her two sons took the first Benz Patent Motorwagen 3, unbeknownst to her husband, and set out on a 104 km journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim to visit her mother. Their journey followed the railroad tracks but included many hills and valleys. They had to push the vehicle up the hills and the simple friction brake made going down the hills quite exhilarating. She kept her husband informed by telegraph as they made their journey. For their return trip, they chose a shorter, less hilly, 90 km route. Her journey showed the world what an automobile could do. Karl Benz then added a low gear to the design to allow the vehicle to climb hills. Photo circa 1871.