Joel Weintraub said something that this newbie thought very interesting at a lecture he gave covering the 1940 census release next year. Well he said a lot of interesting and important stuff... thanks, Joel! But one thing sticks with me: genealogy is geography, or words to that effect. Sorry if I've misquoted Joel:) Nevertheless, I got the point that you need to spend time going beyond names, dates, and places in order to understand more about the ancestors.
One of the things that's also sticking out as I scan the horizon of the ancestors is the need for me to understand the era, get a gestalt for it, a feeling for the whole of it. Here's an example: somehow I had this erroneous concept that no one was in the Western Maryland area in the early and mid 1700s. Bad gestalt! It was populated with frontier farms and a couple of taverns. Taverns were popular... wonder why;)
This becomes an issue for me when I think I have one family group and it turns out to be another. I see a family with kids with names that are close but don't exactly match. Then in a little while I see a mirror family with almost identical names, a few variations, located "over the hill." Grrrr.
Now for the drinking man story. There were men who partook of the drink in my family and some stories to go with them. Mom said to me yesterday, so your Dad's uncle drowned in a rain barrel. What?!! Yeah, seems he got drunk and passed out, face down, in a rain barrel. Tragic... but why am I laughing??