Elmer Hartlett Thompson

Walk with the Dead: Fargo's Riverside Cemetery

Elmer Hartlett Thompson

Fargo, North Dakota 58105, United States

Created By: North Dakota State University


Born in February 1892 in Appleton, MN, Thompson was the first ND boy returned home for burial from World War I. Elmer was 25 when he was drafted in Minneapolis and sent to Camp Jackson, South Carolina, a new complex that was still being built when he left home for the south.

Camp Jackson, later Fort Jackson, was built in six month in late 1917 specifically to train America's darfted young men. All 1,519 buildings, including theaters, stores, kitchens, barracks, officers’ quarters, training facilities, stables, warehouses, garages, an airfield, roads, bridges, railroads, a reservoir and water lines, sewers, wells, heating plants, and a laundry were built to completion in six months time. (1)

From Camp Jackson, South Carolina, Elmer, the only son of the four Thompson children, was sent to France where he was in the midst of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. This final push would lead to Armistace on November 11. Elmer's assignment was 3rd Provisional Ordnance Detachmant Battalion. These Provisional Battalions were set up to work with industry in France to supply the American troops with needed supplies.

How did Elmer die? Which part of war was it? Was it the 160 mile long, wet, cold November walk from France to Koblenz, Germany? Was it the Spanish Flu ripping through the troops? The lack of food? Elmer Thompson died April 6, 1919, long after Armistace Day. He was buried in Koblenz, unearthed at his family's request, and returned to Fargo on July 29, 1920.

The August 5, 1920 Valley City Times article, image attached, indicates that Elmer was laid to rest here on August 4, 1920, honored with a full military funeral.


  1. “50th Anniversary History, 1917-1967, Fort Jackson, South Carolina | Fort Jackson.” Accessed December 3, 2016. http://jackson.armylive.dodlive.mil/post/museum/50th-anniversary-history/.

  2. “History of the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps.” Accessed December 3, 2016. http://www.goordnance.army.mil/history/ORDhistory.html.

  3. California State Library; Sacramento; Roster from the State of North Dakota Volume 4. Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Walk with the Dead: Fargo's Riverside Cemetery


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