Do youhave a Family History Center near you?If so, check, if they are online the LDS have a subscription to Ancestry.com -- one of those pay-to-view sites.But, it is free to patrons of the FHCs.I have access to Heritage Quest through a local public library that has a subscription.Check with your own local public library, they may have a subscription.If not, check around with other researchers in your area (local genealogical society?) see if they know of a public library near you that has the subscription, and one where you can obtain a library card and get access.The library I use charges non-residents a fee, but because I have put in thousands of volunteer hours they gave me a card for free.I don't use any of the pay sites -- guess it's my Scotish blood.LOL
Now, if you haven't used GenWeb sites, you've been missing lots of fun.http://www.usgenweb.comhttp://www.usgenweb.com will take you to the U.S. level.From there you choose your state, and then choose county in that state.At the state level some states have good stuff, too.TN and TX are among those.You need to click and look, see what's available.Example, under Texas Research Help, you will find such as TX Confederate Pensions; Confederate Museum, TX Ranger Museum, Handbook of TX (a must site to bookmark); TX State Archives and a long list of sites to use.
GenWeb sites are run by volunteers so they do tend to vary in style, format and the amount of information on each site.Some are continuely adding, so go back and check their progress.Hawkins Co, TN even has probate records online.Most at leasthave a "list" of their local cemeteries, and the goal is to get names in those cemeteries online for every county across the country.
Some counties will have the census for just their county online, some with indexes, too.Early marriages are fairly common, and the list goes on.Again, be sure to spend some time, click and look, some use rather different titles for subjects I wouldn't recognize.I've been to sites where the first glance looked like they didn't have much, but I followed my own advice, clicked and looked.Wow, the rather generic title they used lead to lots of good "stuff."Then again, there are some sites with very little, but I wouldn't take on the job, so guess I can't complain, right?(^_^)
Also, check out the archived section of any GenWeb site.I don't know the difference.Some counties will have the same information, others won't have much and the archived section will have more.Many will have a search feature, so you can find your surname easier.
It takes a bit for the whole thing to download.I love the commentary made by Geronimo on the main page.I've printed it out and plan on framing it.The man who started this site passed away, another group seems to be continuing it.There are 276 genealogy site links, then 124 Civil War links.Warning, don't start this one unless you pack a lunch first.LOL