Re: attic framing vs. soffit baffles
Your roof doesn't happen to have a flare at the eaves? That's the way they used to frame flared eaves; the main rafters stop at the plate, and extensions are nailed on top of the sheathing, and then sheathed themselves. If that was what you have, you would access that space by drilling holes in the layer of sheathing that's before you; it leads into that extra cavity of the flare. You would need to determine exactly the place that the flare begins, otherwise you're drilling through the roof and not into dead space.
Otherwise, drill into the blocking and take a look at what you find; you should be able to see the soffit or fascia at some point.
Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.