Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 029


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 themselves. 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.

Scope and Content Note

Interview covers the following topics: family history; polio; Waldo county railroads; Brooks history; Morse High School of Brooks; working at a boatyard during World War II; Returning to Brooks; collecting liens; chair of selectmen in Brooks; Smith and Hoover election; Brooks town manager; illegitimacy in Maine; Maine School Board; bussing; Ed Greeley; Maine School Bill of 1955; becoming Democratic; fraud in Augusta (William Runnels); being a Democrat in Brooks; reevaluation in education; Republican dissent from Cross; Ed Greeley in the 1954 campaign.

Use Restrictions

Copyright Bates College. This transcript is provided for individual Research Purposes Only; for all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240-6018.