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Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath
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Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  62 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Family lore claimed his ancestor was murdered in Mississippi. Newspapers and court records said the man and four other victims were killed and incinerated in his remote country store. But the case was never solved. Now, after 30 years of investigating, the great great grandson of the slain carpetbagger reveals what really happened. This is a case study for how to build his ...more
Paperback, 436 pages
Published September 22nd 2000 by Direct Descent (first published August 2000)
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Jun 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If ever you get the opportunity to listen to John Philip Colletta Lecture in person, I can tell you this volume is only slightly less riveting than listening to the author speak.

Only a Few Bones, was impossible to put down once opened. In this very concise treatise, Colletta takes an old family legend and methodically peels away facts from hearsay, collects evidence from multiple sources and keeps conjecture down to pragmatic level. His projection of thought onto the participants, where it occu
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is an excellent integration of historical context with family/genealogical history. 30 years of research based on letters, newspapers, court records, deeds etc. enabled the author to tell the compelling story of Joe Ring's family, his life in Buffalo, NY and his eventual death in the Mississippi Delta. The narrative detail is incredible and can serve as a model for those who would also like to write a family history.
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
After hearing a presentation by Dr Colletta I bought his book. This is a wonderfully well researched and documented study of the pre and post Civil War history of the Delta area of Mississippi. Great story well told and what a terrific example of the proper documentation of your family history.
Betty Lane
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Author John Philip Colletta meticulously documented this genealogical narrative, though the heavy documentation does not impede his eloquent prose. We learn not only the story of the gruesome deaths at Rolling Fork Landing in an 1873 fire that killed Colletta's great, great grandfather but a great deal of the history of Vicksburg, Mississippi and the Delta in the decades following the Civil War. This is the story of German immigrant brothers from Buffalo, New York who meet with both success and ...more
Bill Kelly
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Admirable work of scholarship and should be of interest to anyone interested in American history from c. 1820 to c. 1900.
May 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very interesting read. I found the beginning a bit tedious (though it may be the circumstances under which I started), but soon became fascinated. I thought he added too much assumed personal details about how people would have acted as certain things happened. On the other hand, I did enjoy most of the background information about the Delta and the society there; that was completely new to me.

His reconstruction of what he thinks happened the night of the tragedy at Rolling Fork is certainly
Carol B.
Jan 28, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm just starting this book. I have just finished a one week class from the author on publishing a family narrative, which is what this book is. I love this teacher/author. He writes just as he speaks. His language is so good and his thought process is so sharp. He is able to write his family history story as a mystery which engages the reader from the very beginning.

I'm having a hard time finishing this book. I'm afraid, as much as I love the author as a teacher, his writing is difficult for me
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I still believe I am going to write another family history, but in narrative style this time and so I read as many family histories as I can right now. This author has researched his material thoroughly, used "notes" instead of a bibliography, and told the story in a narrative form. It was set in the Mississippi Delta area, which I learned much more about my reading this, and involved a fire in which several family members died. It is a good example of research and putting family history into co ...more
Jun 12, 2008 rated it liked it
I had heard bits and pieces of this story at various genealogy conferences, and the author is one of my favorite speakers--a master story-teller, so I splurged and bought the book at my genealogy conference in Kansas City. I was disappointed in it. He spends way too much time giving back-ground information. While some it was necessary to support the various hypothesis as to what caused the fire that destroyed his ancestors store and killed five people, to me, much of it got in the way of a good ...more
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book as much as someone can when the subject matter is so serious and dark. I attended school in Rolling Fork, Ms all 13 years of my elementary and high school years. I have always enjoyed books with familiar locales and people more than others. I recognized many of the places and names that were important in this story and cherish the opportunity to understand the culture and history of my home place more.
Joy Chichester
Since my great-grandparents were a Union soldier and a Mississippi belle, and my grandmother was born in 1874 in Montgomery County, MS, I am fascinated by the place and events details in this tale. Maybe "my guy" and "his guys" crossed paths in Vicksburg, etc. Just thinking about the possibilities is heady stuff for me. Need I say more?
Mar 02, 2012 rated it liked it
A fine example of how family history can be interesting and entertaining. Colletta brings his characters to life and gives a vivid sense of the societies and geographies that they inhabited.

There are times when he gives unnecessary detail (as he seems to go out of his way to show the extent of his research), but it is a minor flaw. Colletta writes well, and tells a compelling story.
Jul 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone that likes history books
Great book for genealogists. The author discusses his ancestor's involvement in the Rolling Fork tragedy, as well as other family events. It is a light read, that helps people identify record sources to do their own family history and possibly find some interesting family stories.
Sep 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Good documentation, but perhaps a bit too much background information--it grew a little tedious and I had to skip through parts of it. I also thought the author made more assumptions than he should have.
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: genealogy
The amount of research that went into discovering the real story was incredible. John Philip Coletta has masterfully woven the facts and history of his family into a compelling narrative. This is a must-read for any genealogist who endeavours to write their own family's story.
Heather Helene
Sep 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical-book
This is a great example of a historical and genealogical story come to life. I enjoyed following Colletta through his own journey to find out the truth behind his family's stories. I really enjoyed reading this book and will most likely read it again.
Susan Beyer
Give me a clue. Never heard of it, Sue
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