Museums & Historical Sites
Pfaffenrot smithy
Pfaffenrot is the home of the grandfathers and great-grandfathers of Carl Benz. Towards the end of the 17th century the village smithy of Pfaffenrot was shut down due to the death of master smith Wipfler. But soon Frauenalb Monastery transferred the "rights to exercise the blacksmith's trade" in Pfaffenrot to Hanss Adam Bentz.
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For generations members of the Benz Family pursued their trade in the Pfaffenrot smithy
In the year 1735 Hanss Adam Bentz was appointed mayor of Pfaffenrot. Citizens had to pay their tithes to the monastery; the mayor's duty was to supervise payment and collect penalties. He had to punish miscreants or penalise them by "taking away their movable possessions". Hanss Adam Bentz acted for the good of the citizens and enjoyed a high standing. He retained his position of authority until his death in 1747.
His son Jakob then took over the smithy. He could not hold the office of mayor though, since at the age of 23 he was too young for that. But like his father, he too was soon highly respected. He repeatedly championed the rights of the citizens against the authorities.
In 1751 a son was born to him, Johann Michael Benz. When the father died in 1784 the son inherited the estate, including the Pfaffenrot smithy, carrying on the trade as his ancestors had.
In 1803 Frauenalb Monastery was abolished. All inheritable fiefs were declared free property, and the former serfs became free farmers. In Pfaffenrot too the mayor of a civil administration now was elected. In 1821, Johann Michael Benz, son of the previously mentioned Johann Michael, became the first freely elected mayor and held this office until 1839. In the meantime he had also taken over the smithy from his father. He named his first son Johann Georg and hoped he had sired a worthy successor for his smithy.
But Johann Georg did not put up with the narrowness of the village for long. He wanted to work with big machines, so he left home and became an engine driver. But his calling proved his undoing: he helped a colleague put a derailed locomotive back on the tracks, gave all he had in doing so and, all heated up, went back to the open driver's cab of his own locomotive. He came down with pneumonia, which quickly put an end to his life. He was survived by his widow and a son: Carl Friedrich Michael Benz, who later was to become the inventor of the automobile.
The smithy still stands in Pfaffenrot (Marxzell) today and is used as a residential building.
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