…Where the crosses row on row bear the name of one young man born in Pelican Rapids; killed in World War I a century ago

A couple from Belgium reached across the Atlantic; and all the way to the upper midwest to learn more about a young man who lost his life a century ago in World War I.

Their quest, specifically, brought them to Pelican Rapids. 

The online message arrived at Pelican Rapids Press office, just two days after the 100th anniversary of the November 11 armistice that ended the Great War. 

They were looking for information on Theodore Togstad, who was killed in action in the closing days of the war, and is buried in Flanders Field, Belgium.  

He was evidently born in Pelican Rapids, but he did not turn up on Otter Tail County Historical Society records of World War I veterans.  

Printed here is the text of the message from Nicole Pieters:

* * * * * * * *

“My name is Nicole and I live in Belgium. My husband, Benny , and I are members of the “Adopt-a-Grave” plan from the American Legion Post BE 02 and we adopted four years ago the grave of Theodore Togstad.

We also visit several times his grave and places a flower, because we are very grateful for what he has done for our country. 

Theodore was born December 31, 1891 Pelican Rapids and he died in World War 1, Belgium, October 31, 1918. He is buried in the Cemetery of Flanders Field, Waregem Belgium. We are looking several years some more information about the short life of Theodore, or a picture of him, and if possible also family of him so we can send some pictures of the grave of Theodore. It is here in Belgium difficult to find the right information about him. 

Can you please help us? 

Already thanks 

With friendly greetings, Nicole

* * * * * * * * 

We followed up on the letter by conducting a few internet searches, including a wonderful site called HonorStates.org. 

And there we found it. 

Theodore Togstad, while he was evidently born in Pelican Rapids in 1891; he or his family eventually relocated to North Dakota.  His enlistment records show Maddock as his hometown–which is up near Devils Lake.  Many folks are familiar with that north central part of North Dakota, especially waterfowl hunters and walleye anglers.  

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a known photo of the soldier–at least not in the records we were able to uncover.

We transmitted the information to Nicole and Benny  Pieters in Belgium.

Further, we thanked them for caretaking the gravesite of one of our heroes who died on foreign soil in faraway Belgium. 

Accompanying this article is a summary of the information on Theodore Togstad. 

If any readers have information on a Togstad family that apparently lived in the Pelican area at one time, please email the Pelican Rapids Press:


Or phone: 



Theodore Togstad World War I Casualty from North Dakota


According to our records, North Dakota was Togstad’s home or enlistment state. Furthermore, we have Maddock listed as the city and Benson County included within the archival record.


Enlisted in the Army. Served during World War I. Togstad had the rank of Private. Served with 91st Division, 362nd Infantry Regiment.


Togstad experienced a traumatic event which resulted in loss of life on October 31, 1918. Recorded circumstances attributed to: “Killed in Action.”


Buried or memorialized at Plot B Row 2 Grave 2, Flanders Field American Cemetery, Waregem, Belgium.


Listed are some of the awards, medals and commendations that Private Togstad either received or may have been qualified for.

  Purple Heart 

• World War I Victory Medal