John A. Roebling II

John Augustus Roebling II (November 21, 1867 February 2, 1952) was an American civil engineer and philanthropist. Following his father's death, he became the largest individual shareholder in the family business, John A. Roebling's Sons.

John A. Roebling II
John Augustus Roebling II

(1867-11-21)November 21, 1867
DiedFebruary 22, 1952(1952-02-22) (aged 84)
Spouse(s)Margaret Shippen McIlvaine (married 1889, died 1930)
Helen Price (married 1931, died 1969)
ChildrenDonald Roebling

Early life and education

Roebling was born to Washington Roebling and Emily Warren Roebling on November 21, 1867, in Mühlhausen, Germany, where his father had been sent to study the use of caissons that were to be used in the construction of the foundations of the Brooklyn Bridge. He was named for his grandfather, the original designer of the bridge. Raised in the Columbia Heights, Brooklyn neighborhood, where his parents were supervising the construction of the bridge, Roebling attended Collegiate School and Brooklyn Boy's Preparatory School. After the bridge was completed, he moved with his family to Troy, New York, where he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, earning an undergraduate degree in civil engineering in 1888 before a master's degree in chemistry.[1]


He started work as a chemist for the family business, but was forced to decrease his work due to a lingering heart condition that had affected him since his youth.[2] Following his marriage to Margaret Shippen McIlvane in 1889, they moved to Oracle, Arizona and later Asheville, North Carolina where the weather was more conducive to her lung ailment. He moved to Bernardsville, New Jersey in 1904 and acquired the Boulderwood estate after Asheville voted in favor of alcohol prohibition. He continued to work independently on chemistry research and became the owner of 18.4% of the family business, John A. Roebling's Sons, after his father's death in 1926.[1] He acquired 1,050 acres (420 ha) of land in Lake Placid, Florida in the late 1920s, which became the site of the Red Hill Estate, constructed on Red Hill, which rose 213 feet (65 m). A storehouse, constructed to store supplies, was used by his son, Donald Roebling, to develop and test his amtrac, which was planned to help rescue people during hurricanes, but became the basis of the amphibious Landing Vehicle Tracked used during World War II.[1]


Boulderwood is part of the Olcott Avenue Historic District, and Roebling was credited with creating work for needy locals during the Great Depression.[3] In July 1941, the estate was given to Richard Archbold, a zoologist who used the site to create the Archbold Biological Station.[1] A collection of 16,000 mineral samples, among them many type specimens, along with an endowment of $150,000, was contributed by Roebling to the Smithsonian Institution.[4] The collection was described in the organization's annual report as including "practically every known mineral species".[5]


Roebling died at his Boulderwood estate in Bernardsville on February 2, 1952. He was survived by his son Donald, and by his second wife, Helen Price, who he had married in 1931.[2]


  1. Lohrer, Fred E. "John A. Roebling, II (1867-1952), Builder of the Red Hill Estate (1929-1941), Lake Placid, Florida", Archbold Biological Station, October 2, 2006, last updated July 17, 2017. Accessed October 24, 2018.
  2. Staff. "John A. Roebling, Engineer, 84, Dies; Son of Builder and Grandson of Designer of Brooklyn Bridge Aided Smithsonian Institution", The New York Times, February 3, 1952. Accessed October 25, 2018.
  3. Olcott Avenue Historic District, National Register of Historic Places. Accessed October 25, 2018. "According to legend, the situation in the town might have been far more grim if John Roebling had not kept men off relief by various make-work projects."
  4. Roebling Collection of Minerals Received, Smithsonian Institution. Accessed October 25, 2018. "The Roebling Collection of 16,000 minerals and an endowment of $150,000 for its maintenance are received from John A. Roebling II of Bernardsville, New Jersey, in memory of his father, Washington Roebling, who died in July 1926, willing the collection to his son."
  5. Report of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1927, Smithsonian Institution. Accessed October 25, 2018. "The Roebling mineralogical collection was presented to the Smithsonian by Mr John A Roebling of Bernardsville NJ in memory of his father, Col. Washington A. Roebling, who died in July, 1926, willing the mineral collection to his son. The Roebling collection contains over 16,000 specimens, including practically every known mineral species. Mr. Roebling also accompanied his gift with an endowment fund of $150,000 for its development."
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