Location: Downtown, IUPUI campus
Named For: Robert Barnhill, early settler
Robert Barnhill was one of the first white men to settle in Marion County, arriving March 6, 1820.
Barnhill was born February 28, 1769 in Washington County, Pennsylvania to Samuel and Jean Craig Barnhill. The family moved to Scott County, Kentucky around 1789 or 1790. He married Sarah Marvis in 1791 and moved to Butler County, Ohio in 1805.
In 1820, Barnhill, his wife and 12 children moved to Indianapolis and settled in the swampy area close to the present area of IUPUI along the banks of the White River. The accompanied several other families including the Connaroes.
Because of the adverse conditions, most of the early settlers contracted malaria, including Barnhill. The sickness, which the settlers called “the plague” was spread by a house raising, since all of the men in the era helped. Barnhill eventually succumbed to the illness and died September 9, 1821 and was buried in a “plague cemetery” in the area. After his death, the families moved to Wayne Township southeast of Clermont. His will was the first to entered for probate in Marion County.
Editor’s Note: An alternate theory would make Dr. John Barnhill the namesake. He was a Civil War era doctor in Indianapolis. Considering the proximity to the hospital, it seems a plausible alternative.