Back in 1967 BC (before computers and the Internet), I was searching for my great grandfather Wm M. Johnson, and discovered looking through court records here in Utah that he had received an inheritance from an aunt in Middlebury, Knox County, Ohio. My mother remembered that her father (my grandfather) had received a small amount of money from this will since his father was deceased. So I had several clues to track down. I wrote to the COURTHOUSE in Middlebury, looking for probate papers or further information about this aunt. Unfortunately they couldn't locate anything for me. (Found out later Knox County was divided and her papers were filed in the next county Morrow.) It wasn't until 10 years later when I was finally able to make a trip to the courthouse in person, from California where I was then living, that the puzzle began to take shape. (Ohio state Knox County map below from www.usgenweb.org.)
I found a wealth of information at the COURTHOUSE as I searched for VITAL RECORDS, WILLS, PROBATES, LAND, and other records for this aunt. Discovering a handwritten will of her father which filled in many gaps for me. It listed all his living children and descendents of his deceased children. Now able to link my great grandfather to his father, mother and siblings, many doors were opened for me. I was able to trace my Johnson ancestors back to VERMONT and discovered they were involved in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Seems that soldiers in the military in those days were given land grants in Ohio to expand the frontier. All of this I found when I made the TRIP to a quiet little courthouse in the midwest but these days FIRST check the Internet and you might save yourself a trip! I also put a personal ad in the local newspaper there and found a cousin who offered me many valuable tips in locating family living in that area. Today you would call him an Internet cousin.