Johnston County History

    Formed in 1746 from Craven County, the county is named for Gabriel Johnston, royal governor of North Carolina from 1734 to 1752.

    Johnston County CourthouseJohnston County, North Carolina offers great connections to history, entertainment, dining, lodging, and outlet shopping, along with a generous helping of true southern hospitality. Located midway between New York and Florida on I-95 and at the cross-roads of I-95 and I-40, Johnston County connects the nation's North and South with East and West. Its location places it only a two-hour drive from Atlantic Coast Beaches and a four-hour drive from the Blue Ridge Mountains.

    Statistics, Population, and other useful information.

    Johnston County is home to eleven towns, listed alphabetically: Archer Lodge, Benson, Clayton, Four Oaks, Kenly, Micro, Pine Level, Princeton, Selma, Smithfield (county seat ca. 1771), and Wilson's Mills.

    The Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site is the location of the last major battle of the Civil War and the largest military engagement ever fought on North Carolina soil. Atkinson's Mill is a working gristmill dating back 240 years. The Tobacco Farm Life Museum preserves an authentic slice of eastern North Carolina's rural heritage. The Ava Gardner Museum celebrates the career of the film legend who was born and raised near Smithfield. The Johnston County Heritage Center preserves the history and material culture of Johnston County with an exceptional collection of materials that includes 2,000 books, 800 reels of microfilm, 300 maps and atlases, 50,000 photographic images, 400 private collections of books and papers, and vertical files on genealogy, biography, and local history. Shoppers far and wide visit the 80 discount outlets and shops at Carolina Premium Outlets in Smithfield.

    Operating under the philosophy that every child can learn when a school system respects the individuality of each learner, Johnston County Schools structures their curriculum, programs, and staff to foster a flame for learning within every child that will last a lifetime. In the elementary schools, children learn by hands-on observation, a literature-based reading program, and a process-oriented writing program. In the middles, core academic teacher teams, teacher-based guidance programs, and exploratory curriculum courses strive to make use of the best features of both elementary and high school programs to serve this unique age group.

    Since 1969 Johnston Community College has been providing an affordable higher education alternative that has helped thousands of the region's adult population become better equipped for the job market, while also providing a means for local citizens to earn high school diplomas and learn special skills to improve their quality of life. The college transfer program helps many young people cut the often insurmountable costs of a college education and at the same time ease the transition from high school to a four-year college.

    The communities of Johnston County have many things in common--a relaxed atmosphere and friendly people. From community festivals to sporting events, Johnston County is a kaleidoscope of unique sights, sounds, ideas and experiences complemented by a colorful array of rural and small-town history and culture. Enjoy a short travel planning video for the county.

    For more information on Johnston County Government, contact:
    Rick Hester, County Manager
    P.O. Box 1049
    Smithfield, NC  27577

    Early History of Johnston County

    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 8:00 AM

    Settlers followed the Neuse River From time immemorial to the eighteenth century, there were Indian villages and Indian trails in the upper Neuse River region of North Carolina that became the land of…

    Railroad History

    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 8:00 AM

    How the railroad inspired our towns In the antebellum times of the 1840's, the most vociferous advocates of inland waterway transportation were reluctant to yield their enthusiasm to the burgeoning…

    20th Century History

    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 9:00 AM

    Here in the 21st Century, Smithfield and Selma are towns looking much younger than their actual ages. Smithfield was founded in 1777 - more than two centuries ago. Selma was established in 1867,…
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