I played with PAF a long time ago. I use my handwritten 5-generation charts. I can get a lot of information on a chart because I free form. I have some on FTM. My supporting documents were very well organized the first 10 years. Then I ran out of shelf space and started using folders. I know where to look but no one else would.
My ancestry really varies. One grandfather has Early American lines almost all going back to NE. I did this first because it was the easiest. His wife was half German (Family Association w/ excellent records) and half Austrian.After going to Austria to research I hired a professional. So I have 20 files on surnames of Church records – German format in German but typed on computer. He also sent hardcopy photos of records. He did give some translations and I had 4 years of German. I have given files to all known family members. I doubt they even want to look at it. It is not indexed. I finally found my father’s maternal grandparent's small towns in what was East Germany. I have not gotten there and have not found someone to hire. I cannot get towns on my father’s paternal lines. Professional I hired in Philadelphia located the Lutheran church records but the German Reformed records are missing. So I only know my father’s line in this country – arrived 1871.
I did my American research by myself. You are dealing with more difficult locations than I was. After I had finished my easy lines I realized I really didn’t want to travel to distant cities by myself, stay in a hotel, and flounder around in ‘not the best’ part of town.
European research is very expensive. My husband is not that supportive. Anyone who says – everyone speaks English has not gone to small towns. It also takes time. I had two aunts go to Austria but they never found anything as they didn’t leave enough time. They actually both spoke German and English.
It really has been great fun. I have met so many nice people.