Statutes, or written laws set down by a legislature or other governing body, may seem pretty boring in concept. Sure they may provide the answer as to how old our ancestor would have been in 1850 to get married without parental consent, but what else can they really tell us about our family history? Start digging into federal and state statutes, however, and you'll quickly change your mind. Legislatures became involved in private business all the time, resulting in the names of hundreds of thousands of individuals and their stories buried among the legalese.
Most of my ancestors, for example, were farmers, with a few coal miners thrown in for good measure. As a general rule, they were the hard-working, keep to themselves type, but a few of them still came into contact with the government enough to get noticed. This likely holds true for your own family as well.