Bybee, Halbert Pleasant (1888–1957)

By: Kris Ercums

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Halbert Pleasant Bybee, geologist and teacher, the son of William Lawson and Martha (Kessler) Bybee, was born on January 7, 1888, on a farm just outside of Rochester, Indiana. He attended Shellbark Grade School and Talma High School and received a B.S. from Rochester College in 1908. He was subsequently principal of Richland Center Township High School for a year before becoming a science instructor at Clinton College in Kentucky. He enrolled in Indiana University in 1911 and was awarded a Ph.D. in 1915. On September 1, 1914, he married Ruth Woolery. They had four children. Bybee became an instructor in geology at the University of Texas that year. In 1916 he was promoted to adjunct professor. The following year he began the university's first summer camp in geology. In 1925 his son, Henry, drowned. Bybee afterward took a job with Dixie Oil Company in West Texas. While in San Angelo he helped organize the West Texas Geological Society and served as president in 1927.

When the Board for Lease of University Lands was formed in June 1929, Bybee assumed the position of geologist in charge. In 1936 he returned to the faculty at the university and for the remainder of his career served in both positions. During World War II he taught Company D, Texas Defense Guard, at Camp Mabry. Known as "Doc" to his students, Bybee trained and influenced hundreds of geologists. In 1954 he helped establish the Geology Foundation, which administers the Hal P. Bybee Memorial Fund. Bybee belonged to the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, of which he was made a life member in 1952 and an honorary member in 1956, and numerous other geological societies. He was active in the Boy Scouts and the Kiwanis Club and was a Baptist deacon for forty years. He died in Austin on March 30, 1957.

L. T. Barrow, "Halbert Pleasant Bybee (1888–1957)," Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists 41 (October 1957). Fred M. Bullard, "Memorial to Halbert Pleasant Bybee (1888–1957)," Proceedings Volume of the Geological Society of America Annual Report for 1957, May 1958.
  • Education
  • Educators
  • Sciences, Agriculture, and Engineering

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Kris Ercums, “Bybee, Halbert Pleasant,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994