The literary world turned its attention to the St. Regis Hotel in Houston last week, where a grand book launch party celebrated the newest bestseller on Amazon, 'Barbours Cut: Beyond the RIver's Reach'. Penned by the talented Nancy E. Potter, the novel offers readers an intimate journey through the remarkable achievements of Clyde Barbour, a figure who transformed not only the Houston Ship Channel but significantly advanced the industry standards for Carbon Black production and much more.

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About the book

In Barbours Cut, novelist Nancy E. Potter has combined family lore, documented facts, and her expansive imagination to create this largely factual, fascinating story of her great-grandparents’ lives. Potter’s great-grandfather, Clyde A. Barbour started out as a determined young man with boundless ambition, living and working on his family’s flatboat on the Mississippi River, and became a steamboat captain; a cultured, self-educated man with a passion for architecture, design, and the arts; and a driven, astute, extremely successful businessman and pioneer of American industry and development. With his beloved wife, Jennie, by his side, he built a life for his growing family that provided them with opportunities and life experiences even beyond what he had imagined. Barbour also dealt with significant life challenges including family alcoholism, infidelity, jealousy and many dangerous situations, such as dealing with Mexican revolutionaries. He enhanced the lives of many of those around him, as well as many he had never met.

Riverboat captain Clyde A. Barbour’s early life on the Mississippi River calls to mind the adventures of that most famous riverboat pilot, Mark Twain. Like Twain, Capt. Barbour envisioned a life for himself far beyond the river’s reach.

An engaging story of love and sheer will…

Clyde Barbour’s early life consisted of living and working exhausting, endless days collecting and selling junk and sorting rags and bones to sell on his family’s rough-hewn flatboat, floating down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. There was much to be learned watching his father as a merchant and trader on the raucous rivers. It gave him a keen understanding of the ways of business, learning the art of negotiation, how to turn a profit out of necessity, and the importance of forging lasting relationships.

Although he came from very humble beginnings, Capt. Clyde Barbour not only earned a college degree but became the youngest licensed steamboat pilot at that time.  He first made his name transporting lumber and more on the bayous of southern Louisiana. He was one of the forerunners in the development on Houston, Texas, especially the Houston Ship Channel. Later he owned companies throughout the U.S., in Europe and in Mexico. He took advantage of every promising opportunity that presented itself to him, and, by putting his innate entrepreneurial mindset and boundless energy to work, succeeded at almost every business endeavor he pursued. He was a true Renaissance man, a great thinker, and an exceptional human being.

Clyde’s life exemplified the notion that only in a country such as America could a man then, and can one still today, come from nothing and achieve so much; a country of unlimited opportunities that someone with talent, hard work and perseverance  can positively exploit. He was a wonderful example of how a person can keep wealth in a proper perspective by trying to do good, not only for himself and his family, but for others as well; he wanted everyone to be successful.

And even a man seen as doing so much good in the world was still only a human being and could have difficulty living up to what was expected of him. Not only did he have his own personal frailties, but his family life was also fraught with challenges and disappointments stemming from alcoholism, jealousy and more.


Family Memories – 1924