Eli J. Wright was born in 1832 in Canada, possibly the son of English natives George (b. 1811) and Elizabeth (b. 1815).
1860 George was working as a day laborer and living with his wife in Yates, Orleans County, New York.
Eli was living in Niagara Falls, New York, when he married a widow Mrs. Mary Weston (b. 1821) on June 8, 1857, in Niagara Falls, Niagara County, New York, and they had at least one child, a son Arthur D. (b. 1859).
In 1860 Arthur was living his mother Mary and two of her children from her first marriage in Niagara, Niagara County, New York. Arthur’s half-sister, Melinda Weston testified in 1887 that sometime after Eli enlisted in the army she left Arthur with a Mrs. Cleveland in Lockport, New York and went to Canada. After a few months with Mrs. Cleveland Arthur went to live with the Shaver family in Niagara, New York. They kept Arthur and moved to Michigan around 1865. (Melinda herself had gone to live with one Charles Weston in Niagara around this time.)
At this distance it remains unclear why Mary abandoned Arthur and, apparently, her other children. Arthur testified in 1888 that he eventually tracked his mother down and sought to get the necessary information from her in order to submit his pension claim but that they had a quarrel and after that she refused.
In any case, Eli was probably divorced or separated when he enlisted in 1861. (Mary had apparently remarried to one Mr. Van Arman in 1862.)
Eli stood 5’11” with blue eyes, light hair and a fair complexion, was 29 years old and employed as a carpenter possibly living in Muskegon County when he enlisted in Company H on April 28, 1861.
He was sick in the Division hospital in January of 1863, serving with the Brigade wagon train from February through May, and absent sick from October 10. He had probably returned to the regiment by the time he reenlisted on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Muskegon, Muskegon County, was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough, possibly in Michigan, in January of 1864, and probably returned to the regiment on or about the first of February.
According to a statement given by Mary Shaver of Akron, Tuscola County, Michigan in 1881, Arthur was living with her and her husband in Niagara Falls, New York, when Eli passed by to see the boy on his way back to the regiment after his reenlistment furlough was expired and that Eli told her at the time that Arthur was indeed his only son. And his step-daughter Melinda Weston remembered him coming home on a furlough and stopping by where she was living with Charles Weston (possibly an uncle) and him telling everyone that he had been by to see his boy at the Shaver house.
Upon his return to Virginia Eli was on detached service as a teamster at Brigade headquarters in February probably through May; in March and until April he was in the ambulance corps. He was disqualified from serving with the ambulance train in a letter written on April 16, 1864, which requested that Private Wright be discharged” for his “general untidiness and unsoldier-like appearance.”
Eli was nevertheless serving with the Brigade wagon trains in May, and was still on detached service as a Brigade teamster when he was transferred to Company A, 5th Michigan Infantry upon consolidation of the 3rd and 5th Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. He remained detached as a teamster until sometime in August when he was taken sick.
Eli never recovered and died of disease on September 2, 1864, at 2nd Division, 2nd Corps hospital in City Point, Virginia. He was originally interred in the Depot Field Hospital cemetery, but eventually reburied in City Point National Cemetery: section C grave 687.
Eli’s mother, Mrs. Robert England, was living in Lockport or Yates Center, Orleans County, New York in late 1864.
In July of 1880 David E. Doyer was listed as guardian on behalf of a minor child (Arthur) when he applied for and received a pension (no. 249732); that same year Arthur Wright was living in Tuscola County, Michigan. He was living in in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio, by 1887.