One way of tracing your ancestors while also hedging your bets against potential errors is to look for patterns among your ancestor’s friends and neighbors. When large numbers of people emigrate from the same locality or region over a prolonged period of time, historians refer to this as a serial emigration. Although this may sound sophisticated, clues for identifying one can be in plain sight. For instance, when you look at your ancestor on the 1880 Federal Census, do you notice several other family heads with the same Germanic nationality like Bavaria [Bayern] or Baden? This is potentially an important clue as to where your ancestors came from, as well as an insight into the sort of community in which they took part in America.