Rosser Daniel Bohannan was born near Mathews Court House, Virginia on April 20, 1855 to John Gordon Jr. and Lora (Lick) Bohannan. He studied mathematics, science and engineering at the University of Virginia, graduating with degrees of B.Sc., C.E. and E.M. in 1876. He was then employed as a teacher of mathematics and Latin at Suffolk Collegiate Institute, Virginia, 1876-77 and at New York Latin School, New York City, 1877-78. He then served as professor of mathematics at Emory and Henry College, Virginia during 1878-80. During 1880-82 he studied mathematics at Cambridge University, and then continued at the University of Göttingen during 1882-83. In 1883 he returned to the University of Virginia, as an assistant and acting professor.
In 1887 he was appointed professor of mathematics and astronomy at the the Ohio State University, succeeding Comstock. In 1895 his title was changed to professor of mathematics and chair of the department. He remained in that position until his death in 1926, a period of 39 years. Under his leadership the department grew from a staff of two (consisting of Bohannan and Assistant Profesor George W. McCoard) to one consisting of 8 professors, 7 assistant professors, and two instructors.
Despite having to shoulder a heavy teaching load, Bohannan remained an active researcher, publishing a number of papers in such journals as the Annals of Mathematics, the American Journal of Mathematics, and the American Mathematical Monthly, on various topics including classical and algebraic geometry and complex function theory, and was the author of two textbooks. He was also active in the affairs of the American mathematical community, being one of the main organizers of the foundational meeting of the Mathematical Association of America in Columbus in December 1915 and served as chairman of the Ohio Section of the Association.
Bohannan was married twice, first to Ellen Pierce, with whom he had two daughters Mary (Mrs. Charles St. John Chubb) and Ellen, and then to Florence Ella Short, with whom he had two sons, Robert C. and John D.
He died on June 20, 1926 in Columbus.
Columbus Dispatch Article - June 21, 1926
Long Teaching Career Ends in Death of Prof. Bohannan
Taught at Ohio State University 39 Years in Department of Mathematics -- Author of Several Textbooks -- Funeral Services will be held Tuesday.
Professor Rosser Daniel Bohannan, aged 71, head of the department of mathematics at Ohio State University for 39 years, was found dead in bed at his home, 226 Sixteenth Avenue, Sunday morning. Death is believed to have been due to a stroke of apoplexy. Prof. Bohannan had been in apparently good health when he retired Saturday night, after having spent most of the day in his garden planting flowers.
Active pallbearers at the funeral, which is to be held Tuesday afternoon at 3 o'clock, at the family residence, will be Professors S. E. Rasor, H. W. Kuhn, C. L. Arnold, F. H. Eno, James H. Weaver and C. J. Morris, all members of the faculty at Ohio State University. The honorary pallbearers include former President W. H. Scott, Dean David S. White, Dr. J. H. J. Upham and Professors J. V. Denney, Wallace Eden, George W. McCoard, George W. Knight and Frank Tallmadge. Internment will take place at Green Lawn cemetery under the direction of the Schoedinger Co.
The professor was one of the outstanding members of the faculty at the university, only three others of the 700 there having exceeded him in length of service. Last March, however, Professor Bohannan asked to be relieved of his duties as administrative head of the department of mathematics, although he planned to continue teaching. He was succeeded in office by Prof. H. W. Kuhn.
Taught 47 Years
Professor Bohannan received degrees in science, mathematics, civil engineering and mining from the University of Virginia a half century ago. From 1880 to 1883 he continued his mathematical studies in Cambridge University, England, and in the University of Gottingen in Germany. Prior to coming to Columbus, he served as professor of mathematics at Emory and Henry College in Virginia, for two years, and in the University of Virginia for a year. In all he taught 47 years.
At a recent dinner of appreciation tendered to Professor Bohannan by 30 colleagues, President Emeritus W. H. Scott read the resolution calling Professor Bohannan to Ohio State University, which was written by Rutherford B. Hayes, who was then ex-president of the United States and a member of the university board of trustees.
During his years at Ohio State University Prof. Bohannan taught thousands of students. He was the author of a number of textbooks of mathematics and of numerous scientific papers in mathematical and other journals. He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Mathematical Society, and other learned societies in England and America.
Horses his Hobby
Prof. Bohannan's chief hobby was the breeding of fine horses and dogs, and for this purpose he maintained his ancestral estate in Virginia for a number of years after moving to this city. He was a member of the Columbus Riding Club, the Saddle and Sirloin, and of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He also contributed articles on stock raising to various journals.
The decedent was a familiar figure in Columbus for years before the advent of the automobile, and for some time afterwards, when he appeared riding behind a pair of fine horses. He never gave up his horses for automobiles but continued to ride the saddle horses of his stable. Often his granddaughter, Ellen Chubb, who won many prizes in shows with his horses, accompanied him on his rides.
Surviving him are his widow, Mrs. Florence Short Bohannan; two daughters, Mrs. Charles St. John Chubb, of Columbus, and Miss Ellen Bohannan, of South Norwalk, Conn., and two sons, Robert C. and John D. Bohannan, both of Columbus.
Other surviving relatives include three brothers, Charles Bohannan of South Norwalk, Conn., William Bohannan of Norwalk, Conn., and Benjamin Bohannan of Mathews C. H., Va., the family home, and two sisters, Miss Gertrude Bohannan of South Norwalk, Conn., and Miss Lilian of Mathews C. H.