I was hoping to learn where I should look to find an ancestor who I suspect was free. He was born in MA in 1829 and his name was William Comer, though I have heard that he might have been known as Eugene or EL Comer. He had real estate in Maryland and then moved west and worked as a barber in various forts out west. He died in Bismarck, ND. I found him in the 1880 census and that's where the birth info comes from. He said his father was born in VA and his mom in PA.
Thanks for any pointers for a novice.