Shelton, Eli Jenway (1823–1912)

By: Aragorn Storm Miller and Laurie E. Jasinski

Type: Biography

Published: September 13, 2014

Eli Jenway Shelton, Texas Ranger, Confederate officer, and state representative, was born in Miller County, Arkansas, on April 11, 1823, to Jesse and Rachel (Marrs) Shelton. In 1837 the family immigrated to Texas to the region that would become Lamar County. They lived in a fortress that became known as Fort Shelton and was the forerunner to present-day Roxton, Texas. Shelton’s father, Jesse, became one of the leading citizens of the community. Around 1838 Eli Shelton served in a Texas Ranger company operating in Red River County under William B. Stout. On September 13, 1841, Eli received a grant of 320 acres of land. On May 19, 1846, he married Martha Ann Elizabeth Yates in Lamar County, Texas. They had five children. Shelton was active in the community affairs of Lamar County and joined both the Masons and the Methodist Church. He served as Democratic representative for Lamar County to the House of the Seventh and Eighth Texas legislatures from November 2, 1857, to November 4, 1861. He also represented Lamar County at the Secession Convention in January 1861.

During the Civil War, Shelton enlisted in Company A of the Ninth Texas Infantry, Maxey’s Brigade. He saw action at the battles of Shiloh and Corinth and also served with Burnett’s Texas Sharpshooters Battalion. He received promotion to captain on October 14, 1862. Shelton was eventually transferred to Bonham, Texas, and given command of the district Quartermaster’s Department where he served for the remainder of the war. Following the war he returned to Lamar County, where he remained active in both local and state politics. Representing Fannin and Lamar counties, he was elected to the House of the Thirteenth Texas Legislature and served from January 14, 1873, to January 13, 1874. During this time he chaired the Public Debt Committee. Shelton died on September 14, 1912, in High, Lamar County, and was buried at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Lamar County.

Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas (Chicago: Battey, 1889; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). “Eli Jenway Shelton,” Find A Grave Memorial (, accessed September 10, 2014. Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861–1865 [Volume 3] THURSDAY, April 30, 1863
(, accessed September 11, 2014. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Eli Shelton (, accessed September 10, 2014. A. W. Neville, The History of Lamar County, Texas (Paris, Texas: North Texas, 1937; rpt. 1986). Gifford E. White, The First Settlers of Lamar County, Texas (St. Louis: Ingmire Publications, 1982).


  • Seventh Legislature (1857-1858)
  • Eighth Legislature (1859-1861)
  • Thirteenth Legislature (1873)
  • House

Time Periods:

  • Civil War

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Aragorn Storm Miller and Laurie E. Jasinski, “Shelton, Eli Jenway,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 23, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 13, 2014

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: