I ask myself that question all the time! Anytime I have a task that must be accomplish, my preference is to approach it the same way my great-grandmothers or great-great-grandmothers did.
I am sure everyone knows, you have four great-grandmothers. (Two grandmothers, four great-grandmothers, eight great- great-grandmothers, etc.) For most of my life, I knew about three of my great-grandmothers. My mother talked about her grandmother all the time, (on her mother's side). My father's mother talked about her mother, grandmother and mother-in-law as well. The great-grandmother I never had the opportunity to hear about was my mother's grandmother on her father's side. She didn't get to grow up with her father, hence she didn't know very much about him or his ancestors. I only had the opportunity to visit with him a few times. The few stories he told me about his family were very general in nature. I never even knew his mother's name!
All that changed when my church gave me a free subscription to Ancestry.com! (All LDS church members in good standing are getting a one year subscription to Ancestry.com for free this year!) It took a few weeks, (and prayers asking for help), but I found her!
Let me introduce you to Mary Walsh! I found her in the 1915 New York State Census. Although she was born in New York, her parents emigrated here from Canada when her older sister Anna was a baby. Her ancestry is Irish. From what my grandfather told me, she married a man who ancestry is from Austria. I don't know his name yet, when the family moved from Austria, they changed their name to Howard. I am not sure what they changed it from. In the 1915 census record shown above, Mary was a widow. I haven't found her marriage records yet.
I cannot describe how thrilled I am that I found my great-grandmother! Working on my mother's line of ancestry has been difficult, to say the least. Her relatives have very common names! I must pour through thousands of records to find the right ones! However, our Heavenly Father has promised blessing to those that do family history work, so I know it is all worth it!
Take some time to get to know your ancestors. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a FREE web site that you can use to help you locate your ancestors: www.familysearch.org. This web site has all sorts of tutorials, on-line help, and live customer service representatives available to help if you don't know where to start. You can access records from all over the world! Anyone, from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, can access this site to search for their deceased family members. If you want even more help, stop by the family history center at your local church. You do not have to be a church member to use your local family history center.