Hi WikiTreers,

Welcome to a new installment of “Meet our Members.” It’s time to get to know another awesome member of our community: Meet Steven.

Steven Harris became a WikiTreer in April of 2012 but really got active in 2016.  He is the Project Coordinator for the Categorization Project and spends a lot of time answering questions and helping members in our G2G forum.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

My surname register is continually expanding, but some of the more fascinating and captivating names for me right now are those originating from my overseas ancestors, such as Volčík and Najvar. And of course, we have my own seemingly evasive lineage of Harris.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

I am currently researching the communities of Barrett, Crosby, Highlands, and Huffman, Texas. Through the creation of the Crosby, Texas One Place Study, I am hoping to document the first settlement of ‘Czechs’ to the area, including one of my brick walls, Josef Volcik.

When and how did you get interested in genealogy and family history?

While I had only dabbled around in family history for the younger years of my life, I had gathered enough oral stories (mainly by asking questions about antique items lying around my grandmother’s house) to know that her family had emigrated from what is now present day Czech Republic, just before the turn of the century.

Standing beside the gravesite of my grandmother in 2011, I realized that I was not just circled by headstones, I was surrounded by the resting place of my ancestors – and I think that realization has brought me to where I am today – on a never-ending journey in search of my roots.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

If I had to choose just one, it would be my grandmother, Glorine. Growing up, Mimi (as us grandkids called her), was the matriarch of our family. When a holiday rolled around, you could find all of the siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, all packed into her house. The living room would overflow with tables, chairs, food and laughter. A simple grin on Mimi’s face was enough to make everyone’s heart beat with joy. She left a profound impact on all that knew her. Her selfless dedication and love that was shared within the community and her family were not just simple acts of kindness, but were the very fiber of her being. I can only hope that one day, I may be able to have that type of impact on my family and community.

Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down or one you hope to bust through.

I have been fighting a losing battle against the Volcik (later Wolcik) and Harris surnames for many years. It became apparent that I was not the only family member interested in the lineage; however, it did turn out that I was the only person prepared to take up the cause and start searching for answers. Initially, the research was fast and forthcoming – family stories harmonized with birth, census and death records easily found within online databases.

As each generation of the surnames began to unfold, the research quickly took a shift to slow and painful, each new clue leading to yet another dead-end. In April of 2018, I joined the ranks of those fellow genealogists before me and started on the journey of developing a One Name Study, hoping to further unravel the mysteries of my ancestors.

How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing?

I originally joined WikiTree in 2012; however, my community involvement was virtually nonexistent. I had seen WikiTree as just another place to store data – and hadn’t realized there were multiple collaborative outlets until almost 4 years later. Call me a slow learner!

In 2016 I joined in both the Cemeteries and Categorization projects; however, I ended up spending most of the year sitting back – listening, learning and watching. Today you will most likely find me digging around error reports as a Project Coordinator for Categorization, or browsing through the questions in G2G – don’t be afraid to say Hi!

What brought you to WikiTree? (In other words, how did you find us?)

I originally stumbled across WikiTree after searching for a free way to maintain my family tree. At the time I was using a variety of online and offline databases for research, but keeping my tree up to date easily in a visual and satisfying manner was proving to be difficult. I was immediately drawn to the wiki-style capabilities of WikiTree.

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree, or which feature(s) do you like the most?

Hands down, my favorite part of WikiTree is the collaborative, community-driven aspect to genealogy. Even though it took a while for all of the options to become apparent to me, I don’t think that there is any site available that would compare to the community here. Browsing through G2G, you will quickly find thousands of examples of members going out of their way to help a fellow genealogist. Diving into the project badge reports, you can observe a large collection of members from all over the world, who are teaming up to participate in a project that is aimed at the overall benefit of the community.

If you could improve one thing about WikiTree, what would it be?

This is probably the hardest question on the list. WikiTree really is a unique platform, and there are constant updates and tools being developed all the time – so I would say that most of my and other users concerns are constantly being addressed. If I had to nail down specific topics, I would say that I would like to see advanced capabilities in searches, and better promotion of the tools Aleš has been building through WikiTree+.

What is an example of how WikiTree has helped you with your genealogy or how you’ve helped genealogy with WikiTree?

After being stuck on my family tree for so long, WikiTree has really opened my eyes to a new set of tools and methods for researching that I was never aware of before. For instance, through the One Place Study and One Name Studies, I have started to uncover details of my ancestry that I never had documented before.

On the other side, I now spend most of my time helping others with their genealogy, either through collaboration in Projects, or through simple searches of resources that I have available to me that others may not have access to.

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

WikiTree is not your average genealogy software or resource. Learn to collaborate with the community, and never be afraid to ask questions.

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  2 Responses to “Meet our Members: Steven Harris”

  1. Good to see you here, Steven! Congrats on Member-of-the-Week!

  2. Hello Steven, I received an e-mail from WikiTree that noted we have a “26” connection. I am always excited to find another relative, no matter how far back the connection. I could not get the post to come up, I was told the page no longer existed. That was a disappointment. My tree is: Lawyer-151. It would be so good to hear from you.
    Thank You,
    Bonnie Lawyer

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