The first settler in Downers Grove was Pierce Downer, who arrived in 1832. This Vermont native, but long-time New York resident, camped alone in a grove of oak trees at the fork of two ancient Indian trails. He staked his claim to the surrounding 160 acres of prairie and timberland, for which he paid $1.25 an acre.
En route, Downer had visited his son Stephen, who was a mason helping to build Chicago’s first lighthouse. He had written his father about the rich land to the west of Chicago.