Retired from the Federal Government, Leslie began writing grants for the Village of Kelleys Island, which led to an interest in the history of this small island community. She started exploring the old stories and discovered that the island’s history, as told through the words of its inhabitants, was surprisingly comprehensive and unexpectedly entertaining.
In 2001 Leslie initiated a project with the Sandusky Library and the Western Reserve Historical Society to preserve and microfilm the Islander, a hand written newspaper published on the island between 1860 and 1879.These incredible volumes, donated to the Society in the 1930’s, were available for viewing only by visiting the Society’s library in Cleveland.The addition of these volumes to the Kelleys Island Branch of the Sandusky Library enables anyone to research their families and explore life on the island during this pivotal time in its history.
Leslie has written historical columns for the Black Swamp Trader & Gazette and authors the Kelleys Island News column in the Put-in-Bay Gazette. Her stories of Kelleys Island soldiers during the Civil War have appeared in the Ohio Civil War Genealogy Journal. Leslie appeared on the Robin Swoboda television show That’s Life, presenting a slice of the island’s history and was interviewed on WPCN radio. Her article on the steamboat Walk-in-the-Water appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of Inland Seas a quarterly journal of the Great Lakes Historical Society.
Leslie has worked hard to protect and preserve the island’s heritage. She served on the Underwater Preserve Planning Group, formed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to preserve several shipwrecks around the island. She was a featured speaker at the International Coastal Zone conference in 2001, sponsored by NOAA-Coastal Services Center. She has made presentations to several local groups including the Black Swamp Conservancy and served as a tour guide to several ElderHostal groups, in conjunction with the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society.Leslie has been very active in local government, serving four years on Village Council and two years on the Planning Commission. For many years she was the Village grant writer securing over $1 million in grants for the water and safety departments and the park board. Her husband Bruce was President of the park board for several years while Leslie served as its secretary. She and her husband, along with many volunteers, built two new children’s playground, a public restroom, a new softball diamond and arranged for new picnic tables, grills, and water fountains for the island’s parks.
Leslie was recently appointed by the Governer to the Coastal Resources Advisory Commission (CRAC) for the State of Ohio.
Leslie began gathering information for this series of books ten years ago. It is her hope to continue telling the Island's history through 19o0. She is always looking for family members to share their pictures and tell their family stories.
Her books were selected for inclusion in the Ohioana library (www.Ohioana.org), The Daughters of the American Revolution and Connecticut State libraries as well as many Ohio libraries. Her first and second books were honored to receive the Henry Howe Award for outstanding Ohio history. This award was presented at the Ohio Genealogical Society annual convention in Cleveland in April 2012.
Leslie actively supports local organizations including the K. I. Audubon Club, the Kelleys Island Historical Association, the Firelands Historical Society, the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society, the Ohio Historical Society and the Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper Association.
I write at home, taking inspiration from the ever changing island itself - Here is the changing view from my desk.....
Leslie is a proud member of the following organizations:
Small Publishers, Artists, & Writers Network (www.SPAWN.org)
Lake Erie Island Historical Society (www.LEIHS.org)
Midwest Independent Publishers Association (www.MIPA.org)
Independent Book Publishers Association (www.IBPA-online.org)
Ohio Historical Society (www.OhioHistory.org)
Independent Midwest Publishers & Author's Consortium (www.IMPAAC.org)
International Writers Association
Kelleys Island Historical Association (www.KelleysIslandHistorical.org)
Kelleys Island Audubon Club (www.KelleysIslandNature.com)
Ohio Genealogical Society (www.ogs.org)
Northwest Ohio Writers Forum (www.NWOWF.com)
North American Bookdealers Exchange
Ohio Local History Alliance (www.OhioLHA.org)
Civil War Museum in Tiffin OH (www.acwmo.org)
Lake Erie Waterkeeper (www.westernlakeerie.org)
Firelands Historical Society (http://firelandsmuseum.org/