Now that you’ve heard the story what do you do next? You know the story I mean, the one grandpa tells every time the family gets together. Maybe your story is the one where grandpa’s great-great-grandfather fought under George Washington. Or maybe he married a Cherokee princess, or maybe his cousin was Hannibal Lector.
When you are ready to learn the true facts of your family’s stories, narrow down which story you want to most prove (or disprove). Focus on just that one story. That word is the key to success. Focus. Single-mindedness. Don’t allow yourself to be side-tracked by the other interesting stories you come across. Note them down for later research and immediately return to your main goal.
Having a goal will keep you motivated and on the track to completion. If your story is about an ancestor fighting under Washington, look for your ancestor’s Revolutionary War pension application or land grant.
Research your ancestor’s movements in the Revolutionary War, in what battles was he involved? From which colony did he join? Was he the right age? Research the possibilities before you try to prove the connection. Why spend your time researching General Washington’s battles if your ancestor wasn’t born until 1770. You’ve never wasted your time when researching your own ancestor.
Keep notes on what you learn, record everything that you find, companies he was in, and captains he served under, other family members he served with, and pay records. Each of these documents will help you to slowly build your case. Once you have your proof contact your local Daughters of the American Revolution or Sons of the American Revolution Chapter and ask them what documents you need to join, they will be happy to give you that information. Good luck on your family story!