In 1871–72 the Leon River and the Little River Baptist associations united to build a school for their territory, which consisted of Bell, Milam, Burleson, and parts of other counties. The institute, directed by R. L. Hood and his wife, Emma, was located at Davilla in northwestern Milam County. In 1873 the two associations chartered a joint-stock company. The charter provided that the trustees, required to be members of the Baptist Church, were to be appointed by both associations and that the school was to continue as long as it confined its goals to the advancement of the arts and sciences and the promotion of useful knowledge. George W. Baines, Sr., became principal in 1874, and S. E. Woody succeeded him in 1875. The school lasted about five years.