However, with the Internet the process is becoming much easier since much of it can be done from your computer.
While not an ancestor of mine, I became interested in Mathew Juan after seeing the following inscription on a monument dedicated to him in Sacaton, Arizona:
MATHEW B. JUAN
Co, K 28th Infantry
Killed in the
Battle of Cantingy
May 28, 1918
Prior to seeing this inscription, I had never heard of him. But my curiosity was aroused and, following about twenty hours of research on my computer over a three day weekend I came up with sufficient information to publish the following article on HubPages:
Mathew B. Juan – Native American Hero of World War I
Of course, I also came up with a mystery which I have yet to solve and that is why did he choose to enlist and serve under the name of Mathew B. Rivers? The answer given in all the information I found about him was that he was below the minimum age to enlist so he used a different last name when he enlisted. However, as I pointed out in my article, that argument does not make sense for a number of reasons which I explain in the article.
In the course of my research I came across the following sites for genealogical research:
Funeral Records from Fisher Funeral Home in Casa Grande, Arizona 1920 - 1929
Passenger Lists and other information for Cunard Lines
World War I Casualty List of soldiers from Oklahoma who died when SS Tuscania was sunk by a German U Boat on Feb 5, 1918
U.S. National Archives site for accessing and ordering military records.
DistantCousin.com an online archive of genealogical records
Casa Grande, Arizona Library Newspaper Archive - free access to archive of Casa Grande, Arizona newspapers from early part of 20th century.