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POTTS, ROBERT JOSEPH (1877–1962). Robert Joseph Potts, highway engineer, was born in Weatherford, Texas, on November 17, 1877, the son of Charles Brooke and Elizabeth Matilda (Shirley) Potts. He graduated from Texas A&M in 1906. On November 11, 1914, he married Esther Barnwell Davis; they had three sons. Potts was an assistant professor of highway engineering at A&M from 1907 until 1910. He established the department of Highway Engineering there in 1910 and was head of the department until 1914. It is disputed with Northwestern University whether Potts was the first or second professor of highway engineering in the United States. Potts wrote the law that established the Texas Highway Department in 1917. He also wrote a specification for state highways that allowed stumps of less than six inches to remain in the roadway. Potts was one of the early founders of the Texas Good Roads Association, one of the founders and presidents of the Texas chapter of Associated General Contractors of America, and a member of the Texas Highway Commission from 1949 to 1955. He was a pioneer road builder and an innovator in the use of sand and gravel construction. He was a member of the Episcopal Church, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Masons, the Rotary Club, the American Society of Testing Materials, the American Concrete Institute, and the American Road Builders' Association. He died on April 18, 1962, in Austin and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Waco. See also HIGHWAY DEVELOPMENT.


Henry C. Dethloff, A Centennial History of Texas A&M University, 1876–1976 (2 vols., College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1975). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

William B. Alderman


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

William B. Alderman, "POTTS, ROBERT JOSEPH," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed August 03, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.