Kellys Island, Erie County, Ohio Genealogy

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Kelleys Island (Ohio) is an island in Lake Erie, and was once well known for its grapes, wine, tourism and limestone.

A surprising number of immigrants passed through Sandusky (Ohio/Erie County) to settle, meet up with family or to work their way west. Kelleys Island offered a number of opportunities for seasonal employment. These waves of immigrants included the Germans, Irish, Italians, Slavs, and more.

The Island is fortunate to have many well-researched genealogy files and some published family histories. In addition, the entire island is on the National Register of Historic Places, which means there are extensive histories of each house, including details about the families who lived there.

The bulk of the Genealogical material is located at the Kelleys Island library (a branch of the Sandusky Library There is also an historical association and museum, which mainly features pictures and artifacts (

There is a page on (click on Genealogy) that offers people an opportunity to list their family names and contact info so others can find them. At the bottom of that page is a list of local resources that would be helpful to researchers.

There are several books about the island. The first comprehensive history was A History of Kelleys Island by Norman Hills. (155 pages, published in 1925)

More recently a 3-book series (soon to be 4 books) tells, in significantly more detail and in the words of the settlers themselves, the Island’s history. Kelleys Island 1810-1861-The courageous, poignant & often quirky lives of island pioneers pub. 2009, 325 pages), Kelleys Island 1862-1865-The Civil War, the Island Soldiers, & the Island Queen (pub. 2010, 421 pages), Kelleys Island 1866-1871-The Lodge, Suffrage & Baseball (pub. 2012, 447 pages). The entire index to these books can be found on www.KelleysIslandStory by clicking “What’s in the Book.” There are several smaller books, published by Jesse Martin, that offer short recaps of specific events.

These books provide a comprehensive, richly detailed and surprisingly humorous look at life on the island and the pioneers who settled there. Based on letters, court cases, newspaper articles, diaries, and a handwritten newspaper, all the stories were written by the islanders themselves.

Leslie Korenko will do family research based on these extensive files – she can be reached at