In February of 1864, while visiting General Warren, Emily met a young man by the name of Washington Roebling, who had been serving under her brother during the Civil War. Nearly a year later, on January 18, 1865, Emily Warren and Washington Roebling were married. Though originally moving to Trenton, John A. Roebling sent his son and Emily to Europe in 1867 to study the devastating caissons disease, often called “the bends,” which was a common disease amongst bridge builders. While overseas Emily gave birth to her first and only child, John August Roebling II, on November 21, 1867.
It was at this time that Emily’s father-in-law, John A. Roebling, was undertaking the immense task of constructing a bridge that would connect Brooklyn to New York. An unexpected accident which led to the death of John A. Roebling in July 1869 resulted in Emily’s husband taking over the role of Chief Engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge. While working towards accomplishing this daunting task, in January of 1872 Washington fell ill to “the bends” which would leave him bedridden for the remainder of the bridge construction. After contracting “the bends” Washington stated, “I thought I would succumb, but I had a strong tower to lean upon, my wife, a woman of infinite tact and wisest counsel.” Emily Warren Roebling would prove her husband’s praise to be true by undertaking multiple roles to ensure her husband would remain the Chief Engineer.
Emily played pupil, secretary, messenger, and engineer throughout the remainder of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. Serving as a liaison between her husband and the engineers and laborers working on the bridge, Emily took note of Washington’s directions then relayed the information to the men. The dedication and hard work put into the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge by Emily Warren Roebling was noted by Congressman Abram S. Hewitt at the dedication ceremonies prior to the opening of the bridge. Hewitt determined the Brooklyn Bridge to be, “An everlasting monument to the self-sacrificing devotion of woman” and stated “The name of Mrs. Emily Warren Roebling will thus be inseparably associated with all that is admirable in human nature.” Due to her dedication to the construction of the bridge, Emily was the first to cross the Brooklyn Bridge after it opened on May 24, 1883.
Though most commonly known for being the wife of Washington Roebling and for her role in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, Emily accomplished much more throughout her life, such as obtaining her law degree from New York University’s Women’s Law class which she had enrolled in 1899. However; four years later Emily Warren Roebling would succumb to declining health and passed away on February 28, 1903 in the Roebling’s Trenton mansion.