Jonathan Downer was the eldest of five sons of Jacob Downer, who in 1788 immigrated to the newly born republic from Germany. Jacob Downer and his wife Elizabeth Starner, or Stiner, first settled in Lancaster, PA. In 1790, Jacob decided to move his family to Kentucky. As they traveled over the Old Braddock Tail (Route 40), to what is now Chalk Hill, they decided to set up a temporary shelter where Jacob could leave his family while he went to Kentucky to seek a permanent home.
The Downer family occupied the property at Chalk HIll for two years and raised grain. Elizabeth, their oldest daughter, married a man by the name of Brubaker in Philadelphia. Jacob and his wife brought their other five children with them to Chalk Hill - Katy, Susan, Daniel, John, and Jonathan.
Jacob Downer left his family here and went on a flat-boat to Kentcky to look for a place for his family to settle, but he was never heard of again. It is believed that while on this quest, Jacob was killed by Indians, as he never returned.
Five hundred acres of property at Chalk Hill was originally warranted to Jacob Downer on July 24, 1816.
After Jacob's supposed death, the family took up this land in the mountains at Chalk Hill. Jonathan (the eldest son), now inheriting the land, farmed and built still another temporary stone house on Braddock Trail near Old Orchard Camp.
Jonathan Downer married Drusilla Springer and raised thirteen children - Levi, William, Ann, Jacob, Elizabeth, Daniel, David, Drusilla, Hiram, Sara, Rachel, Springer, and Ruth. In 1823, Jonathan completed a two-story brick dwelling which is the origional and permanent "Downer House" still standing at Chalk Hill today.
Jonathan made each and every brick for the structure by hand and carried these bricks from a clay field to the site which was approximately one hundred yards away. It took Jonathan seventeen painstaking years to complete the house as it can be seen today in its original state.
Jonathan Downer, a highly respected citizen, died in 1833, at 79 years of age. Upon his death, his son Hiram received by will the farm and two-story brick dwelling on June 29, 1833.
Hiram Downer, who was in the Mexican War, died on the Ohio River on his way home. Ruth, Rachel, and Sara (sisters of Hiram) received by will, Hiram's share of the estate recorded June 15, 1847.
David Downer Johnson (nephew of Sara Downer), and Jacob and Joanna Johnson (brother and sister) received upon the death of Sara Downer, her share of the property and estate at Chalk Hill recorded Jly 28, 1874.
In 1887, David Downer Johnson, and Jacob and Joanna Johnaon also received Ruth Downer's share ofthe property and estate recorded February 16, 1887.
Joanna Johnson purchased the entire Downer estate upon the death of her brother, Jacob Johnson, for $3,000.00 recorded August 3, 1893.
Upon the death of Joanna Johnson on July 19, 1931, the property was inherited by George and Abigail Johnson (brother and sister) recorded August 25, 1931.
George Johnson died on August 16, 1946, making his wife Martha Wheeler Johnson, and his sister Abigail Johnaon Barnard co-heirs.
Anthony and Vivian Guerriere purchased the origional "Downer House" and grounds containing 275 acres from Abigail Johnson Bernard, John I. Bernard, and Martha Wheeler Johnson on December 9, 1947, for the sum of $20,000.00.
Robert A. Guerriere purchased the origional "Downer House" including two acres of ground from Vivian and Anthony Guerriere on February 26, 1976. Robert A. Guerriere and Patricia L. Guerriere are the present owners of the origional "Downer House" located on Route 40 E., Chalk Hill, Pennsylvania.
The "Downer House" not only has an unusual architectural background, it also has a significant commercial background, as the original Downer structure housed the Chak Hill Post Office, 15421, from 1956 until 1985.
At this time, it is the site for what is know as The Countree Cupboard and Christmas Shop, Downer House Antique Mall, and The Chalk Hill Village of Shops.
A few major changes have been made to the original "Downer House" since its completion in 1823. These canges include the metal roof, closing off four fireplaces, and the transformation to coal and oil heat. The most recent change occured on May 31, 1984, when a four engine Turbo-Prop aircraft exploded in mid-air killing the pilot, co-pilot, and 2 passengers on board.
Part of a wing from the massive aircraft, with engine still attached, ripped off the small porch which was the entrance to the Chalk Hill Post Office. Debris from the falling fuselage struck down trees and aircraft fuel covered the lawn of the "Downer House". Construction of an additional room was completed in August of 1984.