The 1840 Census asks about names and ages of Pensioners for Revolutionary or other Military Service.
Surnames began in Europe about the 11th century. They developed as trade increased. The four basic groups of surnames are the patronymic (based on the father's name), landscape features or place names, action or nicknames, and occupational or office names.
Digest everything that is recorded on the census, not just a name and a date.
The 1910 census lists survivors of Union or Confederate army or naval service.
Make a list of all living relatives before you start your genealogy research. Interview as many of them as possible. Be prepared with a list of questions. Use a tape recorder for the answers or take very good notes. Respect the person's privacy.