David James McEwen

David McEwen was born in Mountnorris, Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1863 to parents Rev William Henry McEwen and Margaret Brush. He arrived in Australia in 1889. Soon after, he arrived in Chiltern, where he ran the local chemists, which was later operated by Hilda Dow. Dow's Pharmacy is now owned by the National Trust, and visits can be arranged by appointment.

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David James McEwen was a prominent member of the Standish Masonic Lodge in Chiltern

He and his wife, Sarah (“Saidie”) had two children (Evelyn Janie b.1890 and Gladys b.1893. Sadly, Saidie died on the 4th June 1893, aged 33.  David was running the Chemist shop in Chiltern, and bought 24 Oxford Street on 25th of May 1895, while building a substantial brick-built residence opposite the Post Office.   

David McEwen owned this property from 25th May 1895 until December 1898. He purchased it from Mortimer Gleeson, and sold it to his employee and brother-in-law, John McMillen.

David was a prominent member of the Freemasons, and was a prominent member of Standish Masonic Lodge No. 60 (estbd. in 1865). He was responsible for the construction of the Masonic Hall at 62 Main Street, Chiltern, alongside the Post Office. With fellow lodge member James Black, David McEwen bought the land in 1898, and the building work completed and the Hall opened in 1903. It is believed that a payment dispute with the builder resulted in the Square & Compass symbol being set into the frontage upside-down.

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DJ McEwen helped establish the Masonic Hall in Chiltern. Now occupied by Posh Plonk, it still has its famous upside down Square & Compass

David sold 24 Oxford Street in December 1898 to another chemist, John McMillen, who was his brother-in-law and in his employ. John also had emigrated from Northern Ireland. 

Shortly after selling this house, McEwen married Amy Porter in Wangaratta, on the 3rd April 1899, at the Presbyterian Church in Wangaratta. Amy gave birth to son John on 29th March, 1900 and daughter, also Amy, in 1902. Mother Amy passed away a few months after this birth (d. March 16th), leaving David to take care of his four children from two marriages. David married a third time, to Emily Huht in 1905. Two year’s later, on 30th September 1907, David died of meningitis while visiting his brother-in-law at St Kilda. He was aged 43. David and Amy’s son John ‘Black Jack’ McEwen would later go on to be Australia’s 18th Prime Minister.