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. Several article have appeared in the Ohio Historical Association and Ohio Genealogical Society publications and a history of the wineries in NW Ohio appeared in Heart of Ohio magazine.
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 has served on the Coastal Resources Advisory Commission (CRAC) for the State of Ohio, representing Kelleys Island. And was recently appointed to the Board of the Erie County Historical Society
Leslie began gathering information for this series of books years ago. 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 with the Henry Howe Award for outstanding Ohio history books. This award was presented at the Ohio Genealogical Society annual convention in Cleveland in April 2012.
Leslie writes at home, taking inspiration from the ever changing island itself - Here is the changing view from her desk.....
Leslie actively supports these local organizations:
Kelleys Island Historical Association (www.KelleysIslandHistorical.org)
Kelleys Island Audubon Club (www.KelleysIslandNature.com)
Erie County Historical Society
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)
International Writers Association (http://www.internationalwritersassociation.com/)
Ohio Genealogical Society
Northwest Ohio Writers Forum (www.NWOWF.com)
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)
Lake Erie Islands International Consortium (http://www.leiic.org/)
Ohio Natural Areas & Preserves Assoc.