There are so many interesting figures in the early 20th century. Sokolnikoff is one, although he is perhaps somewhat more mid-century.
Born in the Chernigov Province, Russia, he became an army officer who made his way to China where he worked for an American company. Eventually, he made his way to the US studing at the University of Idaho and the University of Wisconsin. See the citation for more...
His writings on elasticity are important especially as they apply today to computing. From the Preface in his book "Mathematical Theory of Elasticity":
The theory of elasticity, in its broad aspects, deals with a study of the behavior of those substances that possess the property of recovering their size and shape when the forces producing deformations are removed.