Only a Few Bones
A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath
new edition, 2015
Only a Few Bones tells the story of one family’s traumatic encounter with history and gives readers nine lessons for writing their own family’s story.
In 1873, during the violent Reconstruction era, deep in the Mississippi backcountry, Joe Ring, a merchant from New York, was sleeping in his store when it was consumed by fire. He died, along with two employees, a woman and a child. Locals called the incident mass murder, robbery and arson. Others claimed it was insurance fraud. Local men, both black and white, were arrested and questioned, but the sensational case was never solved. Until now.
The author of Only a Few Bones spent 30 years investigating the mystery because Joe Ring is his great great grandfather. To identify suspects and motives, Colletta reconstructs his ancestor’s interaction with the freed slaves, wealthy planters, poor whites, and fellow foreign-born merchants of the frontier neighborhood. Twelve possible scenarios are explored, but only one is convincing.
Following the Ring saga are nine articles in which Colletta uses new discoveries about the people and places of Only a Few Bones to describe the techniques he used in fleshing out the truth about his forebears. Readers learn from these case studies how to write the true stories of their own ancestors.
Washington, D.C.: Direct Descent, 2000, 2015 $29.95
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They Came in Ships, 3rd ed.
A comprehensive guide to U.S. passenger arrival records, colonial times to mid-twentieth century, with step-by-step instructions on how to find the passenger list of your immigrant ancestor’s ship.
Orem, Utah: Ancestry, Inc., 2002 (third edition) $15.00
Finding Italian Roots, 2nd ed.
This manual describes U.S. resources available for climbing your family tree back to the ancestor from Italy, then explores resources located in Italian repositories for continuing your family research there.
Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2003 (rev. ed.) $19.00
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