There are all sort of brick walls in research. Sometimes you have no idea of where to go next, i.e., no parents' names at all. Sometimes there are names, but you have no idea of the place. Sometimes you have a good idea of who the parents were, but you cannot find proof of the relationship. It is this category with which I want to take issue.
Been there, done that, got all the T-shirts. I discussed some of this in this posting. I remember needing a Polly Dudley available to marry my Amos Learned on 10 December 1818 at Dublin, N.H. [Index to births, marriages & deaths registered in Dublin, NH 1760-1990 by Nancy E. Campbell and John W. Harris (Dublin, NH: The Archives 1991), p. 13 and 34.] Polly is a diminutive of Mary, so I was searching both Pollys and Marys born ca. 1787 based on Polly's age in the 1850 census. I narrowed my search to a Polly Dudley, the daughter of Nahum5 (Joseph4 Benjamin3 Joseph2 Francis1) and Margaret (Howe) Dudley of Westmoreland, N.H. She was unresearched as was her entire family. I worked on this for a good couple of years, but could never find the proof I needed. Finally, I knew I was barking up the wrong tree, because in her mother's probate papers, she signed her name, whereas my Polly always signed deeds by mark.
Defeated, I asked my friend, Marshall for some advice. He noted that she named a child Josiah Dudley Learned. As Marshall pointed out, she did not choose that name from a hat. In fact, her last three children all had family names, the other two being Calvin Sanger Learned and Abiah Russell Learned [my great3-grandmother]. Calvin Sanger (after whom Sangerville, Maine was named) was a cousin from Sherborn, Mass. Russell was the maiden name of Amos's maternal grandmother. So, six or so years later, I still lack proof for Polly's parentage. So, now the situation is this: (i) the proof doesn't exist; (ii) the proof does exist, but I'm looking in the wrong places; or (iii) there's no proof because the relationship didn't exist in the first place. I'm beginning to think that option #iii is a distinct possibility. So, now I need to wipe out all my preconceived and long-held notions--totally purge my thoughts, and start over with what I really know.
The Truth About Polly:
Amos Learned married Polly Daniels on 10 December 1818 in Dublin, New Hampshire. This marriage record appears in the New Hampshire vital records, and is likely a late submission to the state from the town records of Dublin, which also notes the marriage. Dublin is noted at the residence of both bride and groom and no parents are given for either. This marriage also appears in the records of Justice of the Peace, John Snow, where the couple is listed as Amos Learned and Dolly Daniels, both of Dublin on 10 December 1818.
This couple appears in three secondary sources. In the 1967 Learned Genealogy, the bride is called Polly (Dudley) Daniels and the year of the marriage is incorrectly given as 1817. This work is largely based on the 1882 Learned Genealogy which contains the same information. Tracing back even further, this 1882 genealogy must have relied on the 1855 History of Dublin, which notes the marriage as just 1818 and calls the bride Hannah Daniels. The question becomes, was Polly a Dudley or a Daniels?
After her marriage to Amos, Polly had two children born in Dublin: Amos (Jr.) on 20 June 1819 and Louisa on 27 October 1820. Polly released her dower rights on several Cheshire Co. deeds between 1819 and 1821, in each of which she was called Polly B. Learned and signed with a mark. None of these deeds provided any clues to her parents. There are no deeds in which she was either a grantee or grantor in her own right. Shortly after February 1821, Amos and Polly removed to Weld, Maine, where they had four more children: Jesse, born 10 December 1821, Josiah Dudley, born 4 December 1822, Calvin Sanger, born 19 August 1824, and Abiah Russell, born 5 June 1830. Polly and Amos were living with their son Calvin in Canton, Maine in 1850. She was aged 63 years; Amos was aged 69 years, and both were described as born in New Hampshire. By 1855, Amos was living in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and Polly was not with him, presumably having died between 1850 and 1855.
 Nancy E. Campbell and John W. Harris, Index to births, marriages & deaths registered in Dublin, N.H., 1760-1990 (Dublin, N.H.: Dublin Town Archives, 1991), hereinafter Dublin VRs, pp. 10 and 13.
 Milli S. Knudsen, ‘Til Divorce Do Us Part: Marriages and Divorces from Cheshire County, New Hampshire from 1776 to 1899 (Westminster, Md.: Heritage Books, 2007), p. 63.
 Eugenia Learned James, The Learned Family in America 1630-1967 (US, 1967), p. 76.
 William Law Learned and Joseph G.E. Larned, The Learned family (Learned, Larned, Learnard and Lerned) being descendants of William Learned who was of Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1632 (Albany, NY, J. Munsell, 1882), p. 118.
 Charles Mason, The History of Dublin, N.H. (Boston, MA, J. Wilson and son, 1855), p. 360.
 Dublin VRs, p. 44-5.
 Cheshire County Deeds 79:478, 90:40, 90:86-7, and 90:171. All the land was in Dublin and part of the fourth range there.
 Weld, Maine Town Book, p. 77.
1850 U.S. Federal census, Canton, Oxford Co., Maine, family #145.
Ann S. Lainhart, 1855 and 1865 Massachusetts State Censuses for Hopkinton (Boston: The Author, 1990), 57.