One thing to always remember is that laws regarding public records vary from state to state. Some states, such as North Carolina and Texas, consider them to be in the public domain, and they are accessible by the general public. Other states protect the records of its citizens from being disclosed to the public. In the state of Virginia, for example, one can find vital records from the 1800's, but only marriage records in the 1900's.
I went to great lengths to document my research, and did not rely on information that could not be corroborated with original records or writings. Information was collected from the following sources, among others: