I've dabbled in genealogy for years but never really took it seriously, but it's interesting, fun and worthwhile, historically and to see where your family came through the years. For my part, I've been to the Borders area of Scotland where the Elliot(t)s hung out for 250-300 years in and around Hermitage Castle—as we marched down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh to the castle during the International Clan Gathering in 2009, our name on the colors some of the clan were carrying, some men in a second floor flat hollered out "Here comes the Lawless Elliots"—probably true from what I've heard about the Border reivers, which the Elliots and other clans were called; I've been to Cumberland County, Kentucky, around Amandaville, Crocus Creek and Burkesville, where Samuel brought his brood in 1802-3 (and our part of the clan left for Vermillion Country, Illinois, in the early 1830s before heading down to Clark County), visited the courthouse and library there for records, talked to many people in the area and visited the Elliott-Baker Cemetery and saw the old Elliott School; I've been to Troy, Texas, where Robert Elliott, Samuel's son who served in the Confederate Army and left Kentucky after the war is buried with his family in the Old Troy Cemetery and ran around the country with a young couple I met and looked for the graves (see here).
I've checked the records my mother had on her family, the Ramseys from Ireland and the Newberrys from the Isle of Wight, Ancestry.com, which you have to get a subscription to use, and the Clan Elliot USA genealogy web sites, which you have to be a member to use. I've talked with the Clan Elliot USA genealogist and web master who are very helpful. My daughters, Jessica and Becky, have checked records and been a great deal of help in finding people and information. Becky found that Samuel had served in the Revolutionary War in the 10th Virginia Regiment, which is what he received a land grant for in Kentucky. Jessica traced the family tree back to Scotland, and through several generations. Alex Elliott, an African-American retired Air Force noncom whose daughter is married to an acquaintance of mine, took me all over Lawson's Bottoms near the Elliott farm where he grew up—Samuel had 12 slaves when he died. One of them was named Shadrack. Alex's father was named Shadrack, so was his grandfather.
Interesting stuff. Reading a recent National Geographic Traveler about an Irish-American finding his family in County Kerry piqued my interest in genealogy again. So in my spare time, I'm back at it. The National Geographic Traveler piece had a little sidebar as a place to start. The piece, "Ancestry 101, We are family," said, "To start your Irish family history, the first thing you need to know is what part of the island your ancestors came from. If you already know, start rummaging through the 1901 and 1911 census records, free at censusnationalarchives.ie. Otherwise, try www.irishtimes.com/ancestor. Interactive maps show the precise locations of households of every surname recorded between 1847 and 1864. For Kerry church records, look up www.irishgenealogy.ie.
I'm sure each country would have church records in other counties and in Scotland and England. And I know Robert Elliott, Samuel's father, came to the Eastern Shores of Delaware or Maryland from Northern Ireland in 1840. Many of the clans, the Elliots, Grahams, Russells in my family and that of my children's mothers and others were broken up and sent to Northern Ireland from Scotland at the time of the Pacification of 1603. The clans are well documented genealogically as well as are the other family surnames. Most of my ancestors have come most recently from the British Isles, although my wife has European ancestors—her grandparents were first-generation Americans whose parents came from Norway, Germany, Italy and Czechoslovakia. And there are some Native American ancestors in my family. DNA test are available to see where we have roots. I've taken the DNA and am connected to the Elliots in the Borders area of Scotland and plan to take a more comprehensive one.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your genealogical experiences and suggestions.