Research is great, but attic treasures are better. For the past two years -- at least -- I've been looking for the parents of one of my Revolutionary War ancestors, Elisha Farnum. I have scoured town records for births, school lists, deaths, probate, biographies -- anything that would help me discover who his parents were.
I thought I was close once, when I came across "Farnham/Farnum Families in America by Antoinette Stepanek. She had his parents listed as Josiah Farnum and Sarah Atchison. I was sooo excited, but on closer examination, not only was her claim unsubstantiated with any documentation or sources, but her dates were off compared to Elisha's known birth and death dates from his Tombstone and service records. Way off. Like 70 years off... an entire generation off. So I kept looking, digging, researching, grabbing at straws.
Then one day, quite literally out of the blue, I received an e-mail from a woman in Florida who saw my pedigree chart posted online at familytreeguide.com. She was trying to learn more about the husband of one of Elisha's daughters. I replied back with all I knew, and mentioned that I'd really love to find out who Elisha's parents were. And wouldn't you know it, she knew! She had old, handwritten family genealogies from waaaay back that stated who Elisha's parents were, and it made sense! His father WAS a Josiah Farnum, but not Stepanek's Josiah -- it was that man's son, also named Josiah, and his wife Eleanor Comfort Carew! Dates match, places match -- it was a hit!
So often, despite all your best efforts, you may just have to wait for the answer to show up in somebody else's attic. But for that reason, find a place on the internet to post your family tree, include your brick walls and your e-mail address, and hope that somebody finds you soon.