Robert, This Eli is our great-great grandfather. We can track him back to AR and we have wondered which of Joseph's son's were his father. He was known as Lee and lived in Sipe Srpings, TX. I have a picture of him and his first wife Callie(our great-great grandmother) and his second wife Mary Ellen. His son Thomas is our father, Thomas's father. We have much information on the family after Eli's birth but not a whole lot on his parentage. We have theories but nothing concrete. He maybe a son of Joseph's and his wife Melissa but we beleive he maybe a child born after the last census in 1850 that Joseph's son Robert Newton is found in. We have been told that the children of Robert and Nancy Couch were sent to different family members after what we assume is thier deaths. Eli is found living with Melissa and then with a non-McGinty family when he is about 16 (after Melissa's death).
The letter you have is one of several that he wrote from which we were able to verify that he is indeed the author.
We have quite a bit of information on him but not sure of the parentage.