Yesterday was the 24th of July. I have mentioned recently that the 24th of July is a local holiday among those whose ancestors migrated to Utah as pioneers between the years 1847 and 1868, the date of the arrival of the railroad. The 24th of July is primarily a holiday for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), but in Utah it is also a state holiday. As part of the celebration, my wife and I and some of our family attended an annual Ice Cream Social in Provo, Utah. One of the interesting things that was said, among others, was that there were some families living in this particular LDS Ward (a small geographic subdivision of the Church) whose ancestors were some of the original settlers in Utah Valley and had lived in this same small area since the early 1850s. Provo, Utah was settled in 1849 and was the first Mormon settlement outside of the Salt Lake Valley.
I also read a recent article in the New York Times entitled "Family Tree New York" that talks about families in New York City that have lived in the City for generations.
In my own city of Mesa, Arizona, I am acquainted with descendants of the original pioneers. I am certain, that in every community, except perhaps places such as Sun City, Arizona and other recently established communities, that there are people who have lived in the area for generations. In many cases, I am equally as sure, that genealogists can benefit from talking to these older residents of the places where their relatives lived. It may be possible to identify the actual residence or land where your ancestors lived. Of course, finding this information may take longer than a casual visit to a court house or local library, but using local resources such as museums, historical and genealogical societies and other organizations, may help you to find these families with long-time ties to any particular area.
I once attended Church in Newport Beach, Rhode Island. After the meeting, I was talking to some Tanner relatives who were actually from the West, but had moved to Rhode Island. They introduced me to a relative whose family had lived in Rhode Island for twelve generations and with whom I was related through a common ancestor. These people can be found and may have records, artifacts or insights into the local history not available in books or online.
Some researchers look in the local telephone book (now online) for surnames and simply start calling people with the same surname. Just a thought of another way to get useful information and break down brick walls.