Charles Gustavus Roebling inherited his father’s engineering genius and his love of building. He ran all of the Roebling Company’s manufacturing and construction operations with an emphasis on quality and he expanded production continuously over nearly five decades to meet ever-increasing demand for its products.
Charles was born in Trenton four months after his family moved there in 1849. At the age of 14, his father sent him to the Methfessel Institute, a Staten Island school founded by Anton Methfessel, the husband of Charles’ sister, Laura Roebling Methfessel. John later sent “Charly,” as he was called, to study engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, like his brother Washington. When he graduated in 1871, he returned to Trenton and learned the company’s manufacturing operations under Charles Swan, who had managed the Roebling factory since 1849.
Charles became President of the John A. Roebling’s Sons Company in 1876. During his long career he rebuilt much of his father’s original plant and expanded production to two other sites in Trenton. In 1905, he built the Kinkora Works steel and wire mill and the town of Roebling.
Charles and his wife Sarah Ormsby Roebling bought a large house at 333 West State Street. They had four children, three of whom survived to adulthood: Emily Roebling Cadwalader, Helen Roebling Tyson, and Washington A. Roebling II, who died in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Sarah died in 1887 after only ten years of marriage and Charles never remarried. He served one term in the New Jersey State Assembly in 1903 but generally avoided public life. Deeply affected by the loss of his son Washington II, Charles died in 1918 at the age of 69. Charles’ grandson, Charles Roebling Tyson, joined the Company in 1937 and served as President from 1944 until 1953, when the Roebling family sold the business.