It is really important to understand the time period and the locality of interest of your ancestors. Clues to how they lived or adapted can point to their culture especially if they immigrated to another country.
It is important to remember that if you suspect they lived in a specific county, check the surrounding counties to be sure when the county lines were created. Research the type of records that are available and remember wars, fires, natural and manmade disasters may result in documents not being available or completely intact.
When looking for vital records search for
- Any civil, birth, marriage, or death records?
- What church were in this locality during the time period your ancestors where there and did any records survive?
- Any church birth, christening, marriage, or burial records?
- What cemeteries are in the area and include public, church, and private?
Looking up census records
- Do the U.S. Census records apply to this time period and locality?
- Are there any State Census records for this time period and locality?
- Are there any local Census record for this time period and locality?
Probate record can be a gold mine of information
- Were there probate records for the time period and locality?
- Did Probate Court records survive for this time period and locality?
- Probate records can include wills, bonds, inventories, accounts, distributions, etc.
- Where land records available for the time period and locality?
- Have land records for the time period and locality survived?
- Military Records if available can provide a lot of information.
- Don't forget Military Records were maintained by both the Federal and State Government.
- Court Records will be available if your ancestor was a criminal, if involved with equity suits, orphans, or various other records.
- Federal Immigration Records can provide detail information, if they immigrated. Federal Immigration records have been kept since 1820 and are at the National Archives. Some are indexed but you need to know the port of entrance.
- Naturalization Records are available if your ancestors were involved with naturalization. Your ancestor could apply for naturalization in any court of record. Try local county courthouse first.
- Newspapers if any are surviving for their time period and locality can give a wealth of information.
- Maps for the locality is very important especially when boundaries were created from existing states and counties.
Correspond with or visit the National Archives, State Libraries, State Archives, Historical and Genealogical Societies for the localities being searched.
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