this is not to insult you..
Please discard your thinking that "you should not have to pay for your history". You will come to a screeching halt, somewhere along the line, and probably, right out the door.
Genealogy is documents. Not websites. The process is start WITH YOU.. and work backwards from there, and each step along the way.. accuracy depends on the validity of the record. Example.. you verify your parents from your birth certificate (yes.. even if you know the info.. you still use a record). Next, confirm their parents. If they are not living, you should have their death certificate, and/ or birth certificates. Unless you already have those, they are maintained by the govt. and there will be a fee.
Next, your grandparents and verification of each of them. WHAT WILL BE USED, and how to find it.. is entirely explicit on each of them. If your grandfather was born in Texas in 1930, he should have a birth certificate. If like me.. MY grandfather was born in Poland in the 1830s.. there will be no birth certificate.
The most valid info is not in "family trees" online. It comes from original documents.. ie the census; a tombstone, a probate file. For lucky ones.. that courthouse is 4 blocks from your house. More commonly.. you now live on the other side of the country. Pre internet.. the only way to access CERTAIN records..was getting in the car (or plane) and going to the site.
What I am trying to give you is a honest understanding of what can be involved.. since you are (happily) wanting GOOD info.
In the 30 yrs that I have been researching, the amount online has increased 100 times. You now can find SOME birth/death certs online. At the same time, I will also say that what is online even now.. is maybe 1/2 of the actual info that can be found. Most persons have only researched on the internet. They are unaware of what else is out there, and that it may actually be the only place to find who was the father of so and so.
Having been blunt about the access to records.. one valuable site is ancestry.com. And right out the door.. it is a fee based site. This sounds like a flat contradiction, but it isn't. The census records alone are about indispensible for good research. This, you will have to take on faith: it will cost more to do it the old fashioned way, which is going to the library, when they are open. Instead, you can do it from home for a small flat fee per month, and can do it at 3 in the morning.
This is very much an overview on STARTING. I consider genealogy a game. You win, by using your imagination or learned skills, to figure out what record will apply to your gr grandmother, based on when she lived, where that was.. then what trail did she leave? Census? diary? marriage record? widow's war pension? If, next week, you post again (and I hope you will).. you might be asking "where do I find a death date for Anna Jones, who died before 1880 in Alabama?". At that point, several persons will dig though their favorite sources (all different ones), and come up with the answer, or how you can find it. AS people find things, you'll notice a pattern of what they use. You will also find that some will be free, others will have a cost. It might become clear that going to the cemetery might be your only solution.
If there is one free site to bookmark.. it is
She collects thousands of sites.. if you simply BROWSE her site, it will give you an idea of how sites are organized..what may/may not apply for you, etc. You also can come back here and get lots of help along the way.