I had an interesting email exchange with a mannamed Robert who was representing Find A Grave. I had posted some new information to their site about my cousin William Livingston Holmes under the section of "famous" persons. My posting included a photo of William's headstone, and also a photo of the man. The reply I got was 'canned', but it tells me that our national history is certainly not important to a site like Find A Grave. Here is what he said:
Thank you very much for submitting a memorial to Find A Grave. You indicated that William Holmes
should be considered for inclusion on the 'famous' pages. Unfortunately, William Holmes does not
appear to fit our criteria for a 'famous' listing. You can learn about Find A Grave's famous
listings, including what we look for in a 'famous' entry, by reading our 'Famous FAQ'. You can jump
directly to our FAQ by following the link below:
So, what's my gripe? Here is my reply to "Robert":
I am not writing to "argue" or anything. I listed William Livingston Holmes as 'famous' because he was the first sheriff of Clackamas county in Oregon. That probably sounds mundane, but at the time he was elected in 1845 the size of the county extended from the Rocky Mountain divide to San Francisco*, up into British Columbia and west taking in parts of Puget Sound. He was the first and only law man for the area before Oregon even became a state.
He might have been famous in his time, and not ours. Thanks anyway, and for the email.
As an interesting side note to this, on the same Find A Grave site, it lists two 'real' famous people in the same cemetery as William L. Holmes. One is Howerton, Clarence Chesterfield 'Major Mite' who was a dwarf and one of the Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz. The other is Ogden, Peter Skene, a trapper and a fur trader who first sighted The Great Salt Lake and who they named Ogden, UT after.
Granted, Clackamas county, Oregon was sparsely populated at the time, but in the wild and untamed 'far west' that it was, there were still murders and other acts of mayhem committed on a regular basis. William Holmes may have had deputies to help him, but at age 38 he was the only man who was sheriff of the county that took in a very large expanse of real estate while he was in office.
William Livingston Holmes is my first cousin, five times removed. I just think that he should be given his due acknowledgement as an Oregon Trail Pioneer, as well as one of the first to settle in Oregon and become one of its contributing citizens (see Rose Farm). I am currently writing a biography about Wm. Holmes.