John Stanley arrived in Downers Grove in 1835 with his parents, Dexter and Nancy Stanley. They were the first full family to settle here. John grew up and worked on the family farm near Maple and Belmont.
In 1867, John served as a school director and helped supervise the building of the brick school house on Maple, which later became the site of Lincoln School. The total cost for the project was $552. In 1873, he was among those listed as village trustees and he voted for incorporation to make Downers Grove an official village. John owned property in downtown Downers Grove and built the Stanley Building (no longer standing) which was used for years by churches and for literary meetings.
In 1895, he was asked by the Library Ladies Association to build a small building on Curtiss St for a library since the space being rented in the Farmer’s and Merchant’s Bank Building had become too small for the collection. John let the library have the property rent free for 2 years.
John’s first wife was Henrietta Stebbins (1830-1851). After her death, he was remarried to Lucy Naramore (1840-1920) who arrived here with her family in 1837. Lucy was one of the Library Ladies who helped get a state charter for the library in 1893. John and Lucy had one child; a daughter named Lulu Henrietta (1862-1925).
John died in 1905 at the age of 87 and is buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery, which was founded in 1836 on the original Stanley farm acreage.