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Buddy System
1/4/2011
Get better acquainted with your ancestors by researching their friends and neighbors. We'll introduce you to 11 places to find them.
"You may know a man by the company he keeps," according to the English proverb. If Kitty Kelly were to write an unauthorized biography about you, she'd undoubtedly dig up dirt by questioning your best buddy, high school pals, neighbors and Facebook friends.

A similar approach can help when you're confronting genealogical brick walls. In our ancestors' day, it was common for folks to marry their neighbors' daughters, migrate with relatives, and build new lives among relatives, friends and neighbors from their native lands. Genealogy experts recommend cluster genealogy -- researching an ancestor's friends and extended family -- as an approach to solving stubborn research problems. But like a good biographer, you'll first have to figure out who was in your ancestors' inner circle. Here are 11 places to do some time-travel investigating and track down your ancestors' chums.

1. The front porch
For decades, immigrants settled in the United States among people who spoke their language and shared the same cultural background. They found a sense of security in the communities they built. While many lived near their relatives, some put down roots among those they knew in the old country or who hailed from the same region.

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