600 More of Walhalla's PeopleNovember 9th, 2011.
Barely three years after we first published it, our database of names of the people who were (or still are) associated with Walhalla has grown from 7,600 to almost 8,200 records.
The well-known 80-20 rule suggests that achieving 80% of a given result will take 20% of the total resources needed, while the last 20% of that result requires 80% of the work. In software development projects, for example, it's commonly understood that getting rid of the last 20% of errors can easily burn up 80% of your programming and testing effort (and budget). It's a bit simplistic, and often misused, but as a general principle, it's fair to say that in a lot of what we do every day, not all effort produces the same level of results, and the closer we get to 100% completion, the harder we have to work (or the disproportionately more resources, time and/or money we need to apply) to get there.
It has taken a good three years to add the most recent 600-odd names on our way to what we have always felt would be a maximum -- for now -- of about 10,000 or so names of people who are or were notable in the history of Walhalla. That reflects as much on our ability to make time to maintain the database as it does on the availability of the source material -- "new" or previously-unrecorded names -- but it seems to be a fair bet that the last 20% of that estimated volume is likely to be significantly harder to find than the 80% of (relatively) low-hanging fruit that we've collected so far.
It has been an immensely rewarding experience for us to finally see this material becoming publicly accessible, though, and if you follow the correspondence in our quarterly newsletter, the "Chronicle", you would know that it has drawn out a vast amount of email traffic from people seeking information about their forebears, and usually providing just as much useful information in return, if not far more.
In a very real sense, by so doing, they're putting gold back into Walhalla! This time, though, it's gold that can be mined indefinitely, again and again, and even added to further, by later fossickers with a few more facts at their fingertips.
Special "affirmative action" plea
There are now even more outstanding publications from which we can continue to draw our raw material, including Win Guatta's "Mountain Heritage" (2009) and Anna-Maria Davine's scholarly "Neither Here Nor There" (2009), both recording the migrant Italian community's experience of the Walhalla region.
Using the alphabetized links below, you can check our latest lists to see whether or not they (now) include the names of your ancestors. If they do, feel free to drop us an email, or stop by the Corner Store some time and ask what other information (if any) we've got on them. Sometimes, it won't be any more than what's listed, and that might be nothing much more than a name (and it's always possible that we even got that wrong!). In the best cases, though, we can recite chapter and verse about their parents (and in some cases their parents' parents) as well as the details about some -- or even all -- of their children, bearing in mind that they weren't all born in Walhalla, and even if they were, their births might not have been registered there. We are often told that our records (for example) indicate that a particular couple had n children, whereas family records indicate there were in fact more. Or sometimes even fewer ...
As usual, we'd invite you to send us an email if you feel there are names we've missed, or details about your family's lives that we may not know about. We can't promise to get back to you by immediate return email, but we'll try to reply in the fullness of time. By the same token, if our lists say (for example) that your great-grandparents had (for example) four children, but you know they had some other number, feel free to correct us -- as long as you don't mind being credited as the source of such additional information.
Our list also includes details on some more recent descendants, and other contributors to the town who may in some cases never even have lived there for any length of time (including, for example, General Sir John Monash, whose civil engineering partnership was engaged on some aerial tramway work north of Walhalla in the 1890's). As a general rule, out of consideration for people's modesty and hopefully as some degree of an impediment to identity frauds, our list shouldn't show any birth details for people born within the last 90 years (who we don't know categorically to be dead), There are many others listed, of course, for whom the same lack of detail simply means that we don't know when they were born, though it might well have been more than 150 years ago.
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