I have been looking into my family history for over 10 years. I have been lucky to get a wealth of information. Some of this information comes from ancestry.com, some from picking my mother's brain and my father's brain before he died. The rest of my information came from family who have found me because of this endeavor.
Before I started, I had very limited information on both sides of the family. Being an African American we tend to hit 'the wall' and we hit it early due to slavery and lack of records. I've hit this wall on my mother's side because they hail from South Carolina. The furthest I've been able to trace back on her side was to my great-great grandparents. West King and Fannie Grabernale. That was back to the year my great grandmother was born. My great grandmother was born on April 8, 1889 and her mother Fannie died on April 9, 1889.
However, on my father's side, I'm able to go back quite far. Part of this reason is that they lived in New York and slavery ended in New York in 1824. The furthest I've been able to go back is to my 3 time great grandparents on my father's side. Gordon Salter was born a slave in 1785 in New York City. He died a free man and that is most likely why I can find info on him.
My father's side was much easier to research. I was able to find info on most of my 3 times great grandparents. They had birth years that ranged from 1785 - 1833.
My family tree on that side not only goes far but wide. I can't even input all the information I have on that side of the family. My mother's side is not so far but it is wide.
Because of my 10+ year research family on both sides allowed 6 cousins to find me and we keep in touch.
The world gets even smaller when I learned one of my cousins works in the same company I do (In a different state).
And through them, I got some cool old pictures as well.
What does the ancestry.com commercial say? "You don't have to know what you're looking for, you just have to start looking."