From the North Carolina State University Archives Collection:
Born in Wingate, NC on August 29, 1877, Ira Broadis Mullis spent the whole of his professional career (1904-1956) as a civil engineer engaged in road construction and design. He specialized in the materials, techniques, maintenance and design of roadbeds, bringing to this field a personal interest in geology as well as engineering. Mullis graduated from Wingate College and then attended North Carolina State College, now North Carolina State University, from 1903 to 1904 until the death of his father, and the subsequent financial hardship, forced him to leave without graduating in order to pursue a professional career as a civil engineer.
He spent the early part of his career from 1904-1920 in North Carolina serving as the City Engineer for Lumberton, NC (1910-1913) and, under the direction of Joseph Hyde Pratt, as a Highway Engineer for the North Carolina Geological and Economic Survey (1913-1915) and the North Carolina Highway Commission (1915-1918). From 1920 until 1940, he worked for the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads first as a Testing Engineer based in Washington D.C. (1920-1931) and then as a Highway Engineer (1931-1942) based in the Midwest. Mullis’ district, District 5, encompassed Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. His duties included the supervision of road and bridge construction in the district, road location and inspection, examination of pavement and roadbed failures and the development of specifications for adequate roadbed compaction. He left the Bureau of Public Roads in January 1942, and moved to Raleigh, N.C. to work for two Raleigh based firms, Southern Aggregates Corporation and the engineering firm of Pratt, Lassiter and Watkins. He retired in 1956 at the age of 79.
Mullis had several papers published in the Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers between 1938 and 1963, and retained a lifelong interest in roadbed design, construction and maintenance. He was married to Annie Duckett Mullis and had one child, a son, Ira Broadis Mullis Jr.
Regarding the collection at NCSU
Scope and Content Note
This collection documents the professional career of Ira B. Mullis as a civil engineer working on road and roadbed design, construction and maintenance from 1925-1964. Correspondence and Professional Writings form the bulk of the collection and provide detailed information about the day to day duties of an engineer working for the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads in the form of memos, reports, articles, papers and letters, as well as material on his tenure as a consulting engineer for two private Raleigh, N.C. based companies, Southern Aggregates Corporation and Pratt, Lassiter and Watkins. Biographical information can be found in the Correspondence series but the collection contains few items of a strictly personal nature. Other types of materials found in the collection include photographs, blueprints and maps.
Ira Mullis Business Card from The Robesonian Newspaper dated August 17, 1914
Ira B Mullis Write up in The Robesonian Newspaper dated October 19. 1911
Ira B. Mullis was born and reared in Union county, N.C.
He was prepared for college at the famous Wingate School in Union and took a special course in Engineering at the A. and M. College entering the Junior Class, but left before graduating.
After school days were over he located in Union and engaged in general surveying. In 1909 he took charge of a corps of surveyors in doing the hydraulic and topographic work for the Southern Power Co. on the Catawba river in South Carolina and had much experience in surveying on the Wateree. Broad, and Catawba rivers.
He located at Lumberton August, 1910. Since locating here he has been doing general surveying for the public and is now city engineer for Lumberton. Roberson has no county surveyor, but Mr. Mullis has been doing the principal part of this work for the courts. He has been called upon repeatedly to do special surveying for corporations – in laying off towns in different parts of North and South Carolina. He is kept busy – has surveyed through and around many of the swamps of Robeson county, and says that drainage is feasible and that the whole county can be drained and the big swamp lands brought into cultivation.
Mr. Mullis is a fine civil engineer and is held in high esteem by the citizens of Robeson county. Progressive and industrious, his abilities are devoted to the community in which he lives.
transcribed from the original on December 24, 2011 by Joseph Cox