I recommend the advanced search. But keep in mind, it is a listing ONLY of those whose deaths have been reported to the SSA.
For learning purposes, check the top of the Genforum screen where it says "Learning Center." Has some basic info on getting started.
Post in the correct forum. You are on the Texas board right now; surname boards and other state boards may be more appropriate.
Check out Cyndi's List of Genealogical websites. www.cyndislist.com Almost a overwhelming number of sites that may help you.
Check with your local library and see if they participate in any of the genealogical subscription programs. In Texas we can get home access to Heritage Quest (all the censuses) for free.
And finally, to answer an earlier question, yes, the spelling of a last name can be massacred by census takers, indexers and everyone else. One of my very first genealogy clases (30 years ago) had the first homework assignment of "Come up with 10 alternate spellings of a surname you are researching." You will even see them mess up "Smith."