Starrville is three miles east of Winona and one mile northeast of Starrville Mountain at the intersection of Farm roads 757 and 16 in northern Smith County. Originally part of the I. W. Hall Survey, by 1849 it had become a stop on the Dallas-Shreveport Road, an early stage and trade route. That year the post office, called Gum Springs after the local baptismal and swimming hole, began operations; Rice Wells was postmaster. In 1852 the Reverend Joshua Starr, a Methodist minister from Alabama, bought the Hall Survey, all 640 acres, and began selling town lots where the sale of liquor was illegal. The Bethel Baptist Church was founded that year under the direction of John Rasbury, the first minister, though they had no meeting house. Around this time, one of the earliest fairs, if not the first, in the county was held in the thriving settlement. The Starrville Methodist Church was built in 1853, and Starr Masonic Lodge Number 118 began meeting above it. The name of the post office was changed to Starrville in 1857. Two years later the Baptist congregation completed its first structure. During the 1850s the Reverend M. H. Porter was principle of the Methodist Female Academy. The Starrville Female High School was chartered in 1856. Other educational institutions were a male college, a female college, and a male high school. Businesses included hotels, gristmills, sawmills, foundries, and a wagon makers shop. The town was also served by dentists and doctors, and a stage line ran from Starrville to Tyler. The Starrville Union Academy was chartered in 1860, consolidating the male and female high schools, and Bethel Baptist Church founded the Anna Judson Female Institute. Census records for that year listed six businesses, most located on the town square, and 183 families. In August 1860 residents organized a local patrol in fear of slave insurrections, but no incidents occurred. During the summer of 1862 Starrville became the site of one of the largest army encampments in the county when Gen. Henry McCulloch and his troops bivouacked there in preparation for a march to Little Rock. Business, however, continued much the same as before.
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