Erie County Historical Society Board of Trustees, Officers and Mission Statement

Our Officers:
President                    James O. Miller
Vice President            John Lippus
Secretary                     Leslie Korenko
Treasurer                    Monty Kaufman
Our Board Members serve for three years effective on the date of the Annual Meeting:

Terms Expire November 2024:
Mary Ann Groot, James O. Miller, Chris Wimer

Terms Expire November 2025:
Monty Kaufman, Leslie Korenko, John Lippus, Ann Marie Muehlhauser, Bob Speers

Terms Expire November 2026:
Jeremy Angstadt, David Biechele, John Hildebrandt, Molly Sampson

The Erie County Historical Society was established in 1955.
Our Mission: The mission of the Erie County Historical Society is to tell the story of Erie County, Ohio, to residents and visitors.
Our By-Laws



JEREMY ANGSTADT – Jeremy is the Museum Services Manager for the Sandusky Library and Follett House Museum. Originally from Southeastern Pennsylvania, he graduated from Pennsylvania State University with an undergraduate degree in history and later he graduated from Villanova University with a master’s degree in public history. He has worked at Eisenhower National Historic Site, Independence Seaport Museum, Valley Forge National Historic Park, and Slate Run Living Historical Farm Metro Park. Jeremy has been with the Sandusky Library for a bit over six years.

DAVID BIECHELE – David Biechele was born in Sandusky, Ohio. He graduated from Sandusky High School and Bowling Green State University. David is the founder of Vacationland Realty Inc. and is still active in the real estate business. He is married, the father of four sons, five grandchildren, and 13 great grandchildren. He has had an interest in Sandusky/Erie County History virtually all of his life. He has served as the local trivia person for the Sandusky Rotary for over 20 years.

MARY ANN GROOT – Mary Ann received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Ohio State University, an Associate Degree in Applied Science from Terra Technical College and an Associate Degree in Applied Business from Lorain County Community College. She was Lead Accounting Instructor at Ohio Business College. She worked at Cedar Point in various positions including Company Training Supervisor, Cash Control Supervisor and Tolls Cashier. She was also the Bookkeeper and Activities Coordinator for the Bay Area Kiwanis (Viewpoint/Harborview Senior Housing), Adult Educator for the Sandusky City Schools, an analyst for Toledo Edison, and Staff Accountant for the Ford Motor Company. She is also the Treasurer and a super tour guide for the Sandusky Underground Railroad Education Center. She was elected Treasurer of the Erie County Democratic Party and served as a board member of the Erie County Board of Elections.

JOHN HILDEBRANDT – A native of Cleveland’s West Park neighborhood, John Hildebrandt spent 40 years working at Cedar Point. He started as a staff writer in the PR Department in 1974, rising to Vice President, Marketing, in 1993. He was transferred to Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom as General Manager in 2004. A year later he was transferred back to Ohio to serve as General Manager of Cedar Point. After nine years as GM, he retired following Cedar Point’s 2013 operating season. Hildebrandt is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where he majored in English; he has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is the co-author, with his wife, Marie, of Lake Erie’s Shores and Islands, a history of the tourism industry in the Lake Erie West region, published in 2015. In 2018, Hildebrandt published a memoir of his time at Cedar Point: Always Cedar Point, a Memoir of the Midway. A lifetime student of the Civil War, Hildebrandt has written articles on the war and has made presentations on Civil War related topics, including Erie County (Ohio) in the Civil War and Sandusky financier and native son Jay Cooke. In 2000, Hildebrandt received the Paul Sherlock Award from the Ohio Travel Association in recognition of his contributions to Ohio’s tourism industry. Hildebrandt served as OTA president 1996.He also serves as a director of the Sandusky Library and the Sandusky Library Foundation and Follett House Museum, and the Sandusky Area Maritime Association. Hildebrandt was involved in local health care governance for more than 30 years, serving as a trustee for Providence Hospital, Firelands Regional Health Center, and Providence Care Centers. He served as Board Chair for both Providence Hospital and Providence Care Centers. He and Marie live in Sandusky. They have two adult children and four grandchildren (who love to visit in the summertime).

MONTY KAUFMAN – Monty was born and raised in Sandusky, graduated from Sandusky High School in 1965 and Capital University with a major in history in 1969. He received his Masters of Divinity from Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1973 and was ordained at Zion Lutheran Church, Sandusky. From 1973 until 1976 he was the Assistant Pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Sidney, Ohio. His next parish was St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Prospect, Ohio, in Marion County, from 1976 until 1996. St. Paul Lutheran Church, Sandusky was Monty’s next call until 2000. At that time he went to St. Peter Lutheran Church, Blackberry Corners in Ottawa County where he served until 2012 when his retirement. Monty married Suzie Boyd from Coshocton, Ohio in 1969. They have two sons, two daughter-in-laws, three granddaughters and one great granddaughter. He was asked to become the Treasurer of the Erie County Historical Society in 2014 and has filled that position since. He has been a member of the Sandusky Area Maritime Association since 1996 and a board member since 2013. He says It is his great joy to serve both of these organizations.

LESLIE KORENKO – 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. Leslie began gathering information for her books 15 years ago and has published six volumes covering the Island’s history from 1810-1893. Leslie received the Henry Howe Award for outstanding Ohio history book at the Ohio Genealogical Society annual convention in Cleveland in April 2012. Leslie’s fifth book received honorable mention in the 2015 Independent Scholar Category for the Center of Archival Collections’ Local History Publication Award. 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. Leslie has written historical columns for the Black Swamp Trader & Gazette and the Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly 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. She 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, area historical and genealogical societies and libraries, and regularly does presentations to visiting Road Scholars 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.

JOHN LIPPUS – John is a native of Erie County and a graduate of Sandusky High School. He attended the University of Toledo where he earned his Bachelor of Education degree with a minor in Business Administration. He is currently employed as an Economic Development Specialist with OHM Advisors, a regional Planning, Architecture, and Engineering Firm. John began his career in economic development over 20 years ago with the City of Sandusky as the Downtown Development Director. The position later transitioned into President/CEO of the Sandusky Main Street Association, a private economic development organization specializing in downtown revitalization and historic preservation. John stays actively involved with leadership roles for a variety of area non-profit organizations.  He has been a member of the Heritage Ohio Main Street Advisory Board, Sandusky Area YMCA Board, City of Sandusky’s Downtown Design Review Board and Bayfront Corridor Committee, Leadership Erie County, and was a founding member of the North Coast Young Professionals. In addition to the Erie County Historical Society, he currently holds seats on the Perkins Township Zoning Commission and Greater Sandusky Partnership’s Government Advocacy Committee.


JAMES O. MILLER – James was born and raised In Sandusky. He grew up in the pharmacy business and went into banking after college. He retired as CEO of Civista Bank and remains its Chairman. James is involved in many local organizations including Firelands Regional Health System chair and trustee in many non-profits. He has a lifelong interest in local history and local maritime history and serves on the Board of the Erie  County Historical Society.

MOLLY SAMPSON – Molly is the Executive Director of the Maritime Museum of Sandusky. Molly is a native of Northwest Ohio She is pursuing a Master of Arts in WWII Studies from Arizona State University and holds a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies with an emphasis in History and Marketing from Bowling Green State University. She is also the founder of the 1st WAC Living History Group, a nonprofit education group that offers virtual classes on the role of the Women’s Army Corps during the Second World War. Molly was working at a military museum in NW Georgia when the position opened at the Maritime Museum of Sandusky. I am passionate about preserving and promoting the maritime heritage of the Sandusky area. As the executive director of the Sandusky Area Maritime Association, I oversee the daily operations, fundraising, marketing, and programming of the organization, as well as the development of the future museum and education center.

BOB SPEERS – Bob was born and raised in Sandusky, enjoyed Cedar Point and learned boating on Sandusky Bay.  His ancestry in Sandusky goes back to 1848 when two great-grandparents emigrated from Germany (when a revolution failed).  That great-grandfather found work with the Mansfield and Sandusky City Railroad.  Other ancestors came from Scotland, pioneered through Pennsylvania, operated the ferry for pioneers across the Monongahela River near Pittsburgh. After high school Bob joined the Army Reserves.  He earned the B. Sci. (physics) from the U. of Michigan, and the MSEE and PhD (engineering physics) from Ohio State University.  After graduation he did research and product development at RCA Labs in Princeton, N.J. and RCA Lancaster, PA.  In 1963 he married Martha Evans, a high school classmate. In 1973, he and his family were able to return to Erie County where he brought modern electronics and physics programs to Firelands College of BGSU.  With the Ohio Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers, he established Physics Day at Cedar Point.  At the national level he was a member of the leadership of TYC-21, which modernized the use of computers and electronics in the physics curriculum.  He was a member of the community workgroup that oversaw the decommissioning of the nuclear reactor at NASA Plum Brook. He and his family were avid boaters and sailors at Sandusky Sailing Club, where he was commodore in 1993 and a principal race officer for many years. Ongoing research involves civic and economic development of the Firelands  region, War of 1812, Battle of Lake Erie, schooners, steamers, railroads, highways, airplanes, Civil War, nuclear reactors, solar and wind power, communication systems, Russia, China, and use of digital media to enhance knowledge of history.

CHRIS WIMER – A Sandusky High School graduate, Chris Wimer first became interested in local history by reading Helen Hansen’s and Virginia Steinemann’s From the Widows Walk series of history articles. A university educator with over 10 years of teaching experience, Chris joined the Erie County Historical Society after graduating college with both his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration and MBA degrees. As part of the society’s Board of Trustees, Chris has worked with other members of the group to research content for the organization’s website and to plan and develop several new historic markers throughout Erie County. Chris also is a member of the Sandusky Area Maritime Association.