The character of Berth was introduced in an earlier novel, Kate, when she became office manager of Modern Investigation Agency.
Bertha was born, as her mother was dying, during the pre Civil War era, in the isolated community of Coopers Bend, Kentucky; located on the Ohio River, where her illiterate father and partner built wagons.
Wet nursed by neighboring women, weaned on cornbread soaked in cow’s milk Bertha was mothered by a black woman, found on the riverbank, and educated by a woman holding only an elementary school diploma. She possessed a determined personality coupled with a ferocious appetite she read and extended her education by consuming all the books and newspapers she could find.
When demand for wagons out grew her illiterate father and partner’s management capabilities; at age sixteen, Bertha took over as manager and continued to grow the wagon manufacturing business until a Rebel raid obliterated Coopers Bend, killing everyone except Bertha.
Bertha moved on to restore an ill-managed hotel and was forced to flee for her life when caught in as vicious political scam. During a series of moves and name changes she managed two gentleman clubs and ended her career as co-partner of Modern Investigation Agency.
Along the way she fell in love with and left a myopic business partner; became rich and retired with a United States Deputy Marshall.