Eben Elwell was born on January 20, 1921 in Brooks, Maine. His father was a farmer, and his mother a homemaker. Both parents came from active Democratic families, and participated in Democratic politics. At the age of eight months, Eben contracted Polio in the same epidemic that struck President Roosevelt. He attended Morse High School of Brooks, and enrolled at the University of Maine. World War II interrupted his college career, and he went to Portland, Maine, to build ships. He returned to Brooks in 1946 and became active in town politics. He was on the board of selectmen, serving as the overseer, and also served one year as town manager. He made a living by collecting liens on area properties. He eventually was nominated for the school committee, where he served for six years. He became active on the Maine Democratic Committee, and eventually won a seat in the Maine Legislature. He brought forth education legislation that reimbursed school departments for interest on school building loans. He was also active in roads and agriculture, and served as minority leader. Eben sold insurance for a time, and was appointed State Treasurer. In 1966, he made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic First District Congressional nomination. At the time of interview, he lived in Augusta.
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O'Brien, Stuart and Chavira, Robert, "Elwell, Eben oral history interview" (1998). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 128.