When looking at deed indexes, be sure to look at both the "Grantor Index", an index to those selling the land and the "Grantee Index", an index to those buying the land.
When you're researching the census, be sure to look at 10 families before and 10 families after the family you are researching. These folks are most likely the friends (and family) of your ancestor. They lived in communities, not alone.
Check for cemetery records with the church, Sexton and Funeral Directors. Visit the cemetery and take a picture of the tombstone. Check the obituaries in that time frame.