For a long time I held off purchasing anything from NARA. First, I really didn't know how to do it, and second, it's expensive. I finally came to a point in my research that I knew I had to order something. And now I can say after ordering and receiving several items from NARA that it is money well spent! Not only have I found the origin of my 2nd Great-Grandfather, William Porter, before he came to Ohio, but I have also proved a couple relationships, found additional children, dates and places of birth, marriage, and death, and female married names.
The first item I ordered was the complete Civil War pension file for a man that at the time I wasn't sure how he was related to me. After finding two additional children, complete with date and place of birth, I also found that the wife had died 2 years after he had, leaving three very young children. While I was waiting to receive this file I did find his relationship from another source, but again the file gave me so much more.
Today I received another Civil War pension file. With this file I now have a husband previously unknown, birth dates for all children including a child I previously had no record, and more importantly what the Civil War had done to this man. While in Vicksburg, Mississippi he came down with "camp diarrhea". He spent 15 years after the war with chronic diarrhea that eventually did kill him. Now as I prepare to write the story of this man I have so much more than just his name and the dates of his birth, marriages, and death.
I'm currently waiting on one more Civil War pension file. I'm crossing fingers and trying to be patient!