I'm no genealogist, but if you have a name that you are looking for try the online National Park Service Soldiers and Sailor system. That will give you an idea of if any of your ancestors served in a military unit. There are other people on this forum who are pretty dedicated genealogists so they can probably help you a lot more.
I always assumed that because of the family stories that have been passed down, my family was either still in Ireland, or already up in the mountains of Colorado wasting time and money looking for silver. For grins and giggles I checked out the NPS website and found 75 soldiers with my same last name.
So now my question. Would paying a site like Ancestry.com be beneficial at this point, or does anybody out there have another suggestion as to how I can find some accurate family history?
Ancestry.com used to give everyone two weeks free. Monthly memberships were also available. However, I don't think you know enough yet to use the site -- generally, you have to know at least a county and state.
Step one: Talk to every elderly relative you have -- one of them might have a hint or two about where ggggdaddy and his brothers lived.
Step two: Keep asking; someone will have a better idea.
Step three: start with the family name and make yourself a chart of their unit and where it was mustered in.
Thanks for the advice, Ole. Unfortunately, I am about the most elderly (wow, that's kinda hard to write) member of my family. Even twenty years ago when I would try to talk with my grandparents, they were not too knowledgeable about their own family.
My grandfather was a veteran of WWI, and would flat refuse to talk about his experiences. When spending the night with my grandparents as a kid, he forbade me of watching Combat, Hogans Heroes, or any other war themed (silly or not) show. He said that anything on television was an insult to the actual horrors of war.
Anyway - back to the point. I'm open to any advice as to how to put together a family tree that can take me back to the mid 1800's. Thanks!
The best thing you can do at this point is to start with what you know and work backward. Gather as much information about your parents and their parents births, deaths, and marriages. Then once you can place them in the time at the early portion of the 1900s, you can begin to access the Federal census records to work your way back father. If you are in your 50s, then you are talking about working back 4 or 5 generations to get to the Civil War period. And yes, I would recommend Ancestry.com to get started.