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ELEY, CHARLES NORMAN (1837–1894). Charles N. Eley, horticulturist, businessman, and public official, the son of James Norman and Anna (Smart) Eley, was born on April 6, 1837, in Hartford, Connecticut. Family tradition holds that he left home at the age of fifteen, after his father died. In Galveston on November 16, 1861, he enlisted in Company F of Xavier B. Debray's Twenty-sixth Regiment of Texas Cavalry. Eley served as the chief clerk of the Wharton cavalry corps. From 1867 to 1873 he worked in Galveston as a commission merchant and steamboat broker, primarily in the Trinity River trade. His 1893 recollections of that area, printed in the Dallas News, remain the primary resource for researchers interested in steamboating during that era.

Eley was married on January 22, 1868, in Double Bayou to Lettitia Laura Jackson of Chambers County. The couple moved to Smith Point, Chambers County, in 1873. Eley held a number of important public offices in Chambers County. He served as postmaster at Smith Point from May 8, 1876, when the post office was established, until his death. He served as county commissioner for Precinct No. 1 from 1876 to 1880 and county tax assessor in 1881–82. He was also a justice of the peace and a notary public. Eley is also listed as county coroner in some records. Shortly after settling at Smith Point he established the Smith Point Nursery and Nursery Agency, where he sold everything from trees and shrubs to flowers, grasses, chickens, and eggs. He also introduced the Marianna plum, evergreen grazing grasses, and the Plymouth Rock chicken to the area. He was an early member of the Texas State Horticultural Society and wrote extensively on horticultural subjects. He drowned in Galveston Bay on March 19, 1894, when a strong gust of wind capsized his boat. His body was never recovered. He was a Mason.

Thomas H. Edgar, comp., History of De Bray's (26th) Regiment of Texas Cavalry, Embracing Roster and Casualties (Galveston: Finck, 1898). S. W. Geiser, Horticulture and Horticulturists in Early Texas (Dallas: University Press, 1945). Jewel Horace Harry, A History of Chambers County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1940; rpt., Dallas: Taylor, 1981). Miriam Partlow, Liberty, Liberty County, and the Atascosito District (Austin: Pemberton, 1974).
Kevin Ladd

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

Handbook of Texas Online, Kevin Ladd, "Eley, Charles Norman," accessed November 20, 2017,

Uploaded on August 7, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.