How Castle, Benson, & Gibbs helped me discover my ancestors

The other night I’m once again frustrated with my ever increasing cable bill and decide to do a pros vs cons chart of why I should stop cable or keep it. I began to list the shows that I spend the most time with and would need to research if I could still get these without cable TV.


What I discovered was that I love crime TV. I spend lot of time watching cop shows like NCIS and Law & Order. What do Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda and the NYPD homicide investigation team on Castle have in common? They are investigators.


A crime happens. The cops show up and immediately start to canvass the neighborhood or scene of the crime. They talk to the neighbors and witnesses. Then they interview the family and known associates of the victim. Next it’s time to ask, did they have any enemies, any conflicts with anyone?


This got me to thinking about an approach to my family history investigations. What if I treated that ancestor that I’ve hit a brick wall with like a criminal investigation? Take an indirect look at the illusive family member(s) by following their neighbors and coworkers.


I did this and founAlbertSidneyJamesAlend a new discovery! So exciting!!!


In researching the history of my great grandfather, the reverend ASJ Allen, I find that his name in the Methodist church records seems to always appear next to a “Pearl Daniels.” So, who is this Pearl? Turns out, Pearl was ordained in 1890 just like ASJ. They were both appointed to the same congregational areas and appear on the rosters in Alachua County Florida from 1890 to 1894.


I then pulled a program created for the church I grew up in, McCabe Methodist Church in St. Petersburg, FL. The program was for the celebration of the new church building in 1972. At the opening of the publication there is a short history of the congregation. To my surprise they list the first pastor of the congregation in 1905 as – you guessed it, Pearl Daniels!



Grandpa’s wife, Dinah, died in 1900, so after his killing in 1904, 4-year-old Fannie was taken in and raised by her mother’s sister, Phyllis in St. Petersburg.  So the year after ASJ’s murder Pearl moved to St. Petersburg and started preaching at the same church ASJ’s little girl (my grandmother) was a part of.  How cool is that?  Further research reveals that she died in Tampa in 1917. This means it is quite possible that she knew my grandmother, Fannie.  I would find it hard to imagine these women did not know each other.


I’m off to continue my investigation and follow the trail of Pearl and see what gems I can pick up along the way!


Who are the witnesses of your ancestor’s life?

Did you know?

When you search for ancestors on there is a tag that reads:
Neighbors: View others on page
Go ahead and click it and see who lived close by.  Share what you find in the comments section below!


  1. Inspiring pursuit of knowing more about your Grandfather. That pursuit brings a wealth of history that is the foundation for who we are today. #Moretolearn #NeverStop #CarryForward

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