Edmund Norman Leslie is a son of David and Susan (Gerrish) Leslie and was born in New Bedford, Mass., August 13, 1817. His father came to America from Cupar, Fifeshire, Scotland, about 1800, and was naturalized in New York city in 1805. David Leslie was a ship master, and about 1821 removed from Massachusetts to the city of New York, where he died in 1835, and where his wife's death occurred in 1845. Her ancestor, Capt. William Gerrish, came from Bristol, England, in 1640, and settled in Newbury, Mass., whence the family subsequently removed to Boston. The line of descent is (1) Captain William, (2) Benjamin, (3) John, (4) John, (5) John, and (6) Susan.
Edmund Norman Leslie was educated in the private, public, and high schools of New York city, and there at a youthful age became a clerk in a wholesale hardware store in Maiden lane, which position he held about twelve years. During that period he acquired a valuable mercantile experience, which abundantly fitted him for a subsequently successful career. From this he engaged in business for himself as a wholesale grocer in partnership with Augustus F. Dow, who very soon sold out his interest to William Scrymser. The firm of Scrymser & Leslie continued in business until 1849, and during its existence enjoyed a wide and successful trade. Retiring from this enterprise Mr. Leslie went to Baltimore, Md., where for about two years he was associated with his uncle in the shipping business. In 1851 he settled permanently in the village of Skaneateles, Onondaga county, which he had first visited in 1842. Here he has lived a retired life.
Mr. Leslie has always taken an active interest in the growth and prosperity of the beautiful lakeside village of Skaneateles. In 1856 he was elected vestryman and treasurer of St. James's church, and served continuously in the former capacity until April, 1896, and in the latter till April, 1895, when he declined further re-elections. In politics he is an independent, but has generally been known as a Democrat. He has steadfastly adhered to the fundamental principles of liberty, justice, and public morality, and represents all that is honest, upright, progressive, and noble in American citizenship. He has stood out openly and fearlessly in the interest of the general welfare and for the benefit and advancement of the entire community. His patriotism, public spirit, and energy, his unswerving adherence to duty, and his faithfulness in discharging official and private duties are among his noteworthy characteristics, while his earnestness of purpose, keen foresight, and individual activity are well known factors in his personality. He served the village two years as one of its trustees, and in march, 1895, was elected president, to which office he was re-elected in March, 1896. No man has taken a livelier interest n the prosperity of the village. His fluent pen and commanding voice have each had its wholesome and elevating influence in important local affairs.
Upon his removal to Skaneateles the want of active employment induced him to take up the subject of the early history of the town and village. He obtained two ledgers which had been kept by early merchants of 1805 and 1815 respectively, and from them secured the names of nearly all the earliest settlers, especially those who made their purchases here. He collected and preserved some very valuable historical matter concerning the locality, which was first published in a series of papers in the Democrat, afterward copied in the Free Press, and later printed in book form by Charles P. Cornell, of Auburn, N. Y.
Mr. Leslie furnished entirely from his own collections the only complete list of the names of 364 union volunteers who enlisted from the town of Skaneateles, or enlisted elsewhere, but belonged to this town, giving rank, company, and regiment, in alphabetical order, which list was published in the Free Press. He has also collected some of the most valuable files of original local newspapers, had them bound in volumes, and presented them to the Skaneateles Library Association for preservation. He has erected a beautiful memorial tablet in St. Jame's church in memory of the sons of that church who lost their lives in defense of the Union. He has also published several series of the lives of early prominent residents of the town, notably of Lydia P. Mott, a prominent promoter of female education, who established 'The Friend's Female Boarding School," which was
known as "The Hive." Many of the ladies of Auburn and surrounding country were educated at this school, which was discontinued about seventy years ago. Mr. Leslie's labor is of a character that will survive and perpetuate his memory to coming generations. All of his valuable historical work has been done gratuitously.
April 16, 1845, Mr. Leslie married Miss Millicent A., daughter of Chauncey H. and Hannah H. Coe, of Canandaigua, N. Y. She died March 15, 1890. After the death of her husband Mrs. Hannah H. Coe married, in 1839, Capt. Nash De Cost, and spent the remainder of her life in Skaneateles, where she died April 27, 1884, and where the captain's death occurred in 1858.
Source: Bruce, Dwight H. (Ed.), Onondaga's Centennial. Boston History Co., 1896, Vol. II, Biographical, pp. 162-163.
For Onondaga Co. genealogy and history, see:http://www.rootsweb.com/~nyononda/INDEX.HTM