Knowing where to begin
I have had many people tell me they would love to find their missing relatives but have no idea where to begin looking. The best place to start is with what you know. Write it down! Who are your brother's and sisters? Who are your parents? Grandparents? Where did they live. Once you have the essential information that is when the fun begins. Find the obituary or memorial card you kept from when Grandpa passed away and record the date of his death. Next go to you county office and obtain a copy of his death certificate. It usually has the names of his parents on it. If not, then go to the library and locate the cenus record for the county that he was living in. It take's a while to go through and locate them but once you locate the first one in the census and find Grandpa and Grandma then you simply go back ten years to the previous census and until you find Grandpa with his parents. Sounds easy does'nt it. Well not always! Sometimes it pays off better to go to Grandma's side or to Uncle Waylon's. I have found that locating the unusal names are not always as easy as one would think. Just remember after you get back before 1850 records were not as easy to obtain and spelling errors are almost imminent. Always try to locate more than one source for each person. Don't forget to document your resource information. (I have learned that the hard way and now have to go back and enter the information in my computer files). Patience is a virtue when it comes to genealogy. I can go months without finding anything and then I will find one thing that will have numerous sources to follow up on. I also don't hesitate to look for other researchers on the same surnames. When you find that Your Great-Grandpa's brother has a great-grandaughter who is also researching the same line it is much easier to link the records up. Just be sure to check her resources and make sure everything is correct and matches up. It is not uncommon to run into issues with families nameing children after their parents and thus if the dates don't match. Don't link the file until you are positive you have the right John Doe.