Author Korenko book signing at Ex Libris

Leslie Korenko

Kelleys Island author Leslie Korenko will be signing her books on Oct. 12, 1-4 pm, at Ex Libris Bookstore in Marblehead.

“102 Room Hotel Opens on Kelleys Island”--That would have been the headlines in the Sandusky Register in May 1874. Just four years later, this magnificent building burned to ashes. This is one of the lesser known, but intriguing stories that appear in the newest book in the historical series about Kelleys Island.

Leslie Korenko’s fourth book, “Kelleys Island 1872-1876 – The hotels, the telegraph & the Lime Company”  chronicles life on Kelleys Island in the 1870’s. Islanders were experiencing an economic golden age. Some of the Island’s most historic houses were built and the former Kelley home, the Island House, was purchased by island son and Civil War hero Jacob Rush. He remodeled this small building into a 102-room hotel to rival those found in other resort areas. Facilities included: a 150 foot addition, new porch, new parlor and dining room, a billiard room and an outdoor dancing pavilion overlooking the lake. 

The Island joined the modern age, connecting to the mainland with the installation of a telegraph line, given the title ‘The Longest Freshwater Sub-marine Cable in the World.' The Lodge, the home of the Independent Order of Island Loafers, was also the general store, telegraph office and Post Office. Marathon checker games occupied the men. Over 25 islanders attended the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, sharing entertaining stories about their trip. 

The iron-clad mail boat, which traveled the 4.5 miles of ice-bound lake in the winter, carried passengers and freight. There are stories about how Islanders took advantage of Lake Erie’s pure blue ice and built ice houses for storing ice for the summer; the Civil War soldiers and their reunion; and the experimental fish hatchery. Among all these first-hand accounts are small stories about German traditions, candy pulls, masked balls, new shoes, rats and island livestock, like the voracious horse known as ‘Old Kate.’ The book contains 440 pages and 320 pictures and illustrations.

Leslie will be signing her books on Oct. 12, from 1-4 p.m. at the Ex Libris Bookstore in Marblehead, during the Lighthouse Festival weekend.

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