I wish I knew the very first surname of my great great times many- grandmother before she got married and changed her surname.
My relatives were in Northeast Ireland and all over Germany.
1) Not far - and then only in a fragmentary way.
2) Not much apart from finding one belief about a particular person was probably all wrong!
3) That the research is difficult and expensive, and will become ever more so as more of information becomes protected by labrynthine, commercial web-sites charging high "subsc
4) That unless your family have never moved from some remote Scottish isle or mid-prairie hamlet for the past 300 years, or have always had the geneology bug since 1066, it's impossible without having a lot of solid details already, going back about 3 or 4 generations, as a starting-point.
I can go back to 1729 when the family came over to the new world. The Clan was originally from the Borders of Scotland and some went to Northern Ireland, then on to the USA.
I have traced mine back to Egypt in ancient times, on my father's side.
On my mother's side, I have traced it back to the 1400's in England.
My dad's sister did all of the actual research. She found out the root of all of our family names and researched those, etc. Not sure how she determined exactly where we came from in Egypt, but she did. It took her about 2 years to complete the history, and the file is HUGE. lol
Yes, her findings are extremely thorough! We started in Egypt, then migrated to Greece, Scotland, England, Australia, then the U.S. in the 1940's.
I don't think that occurred to any of us, we were just thrilled to see it all in one file like that.
I have a couple of likelies back to the 1700s.
I found that even the barest of records makes you wonder what people were really up to.