Look at Every Level

We often get focused on records at one level of jurisdiction.

Keep in mind that there might be town or city records, county records, state records, and federal records of your ancestor.

Any could give you the break you need. Never assume that state or federal records are not going to help you on your ancestor. Military records and pensions are often state or federal records and these can be especially informative. Military veterans or their spouses often applied for benefits as they aged and the restrictions were loosened up.