Stepping Back in Time
Johnston County can offer a "hands on" history lesson for all ages from the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site to the Benson Museum of Local History...we invite you to explore our corner of history in North Carolina. Heritage Tourism is keeping old traditions alive for visitors to discover through exhibits, educational programs, folk-life films, music, and art. And history is always best served with a little taste of local Eastern-style barbecue and sweet tea!
9:30am Bentonville Battlefield, Four Oaks
Located in the village of Bentonville in southeast Johnston County, this 6,000 acre battlefield is in pristine condition. Most of the farmland continues to be owned by the descendents of the families that lived here during the Civil War. The historic site offers a 20-minute introductory video that explains the three day battle against General Sherman as he marched from Atlanta near the end of the war. Confederate General Joseph Johnson waged the only offensive against Sherman's destructive march. The confederates were out numbered 20,000 to 60,000 as this would be the last major battle of the Civil War. The site's museum and gift shop are on the tour and include a fiber optic map of the battle. After touring the museum plan to visit the Harper House, which was the home of John Harper and his family. They resided upstairs as the Union Army converted the downstairs into a field hospital. Over 4,000 soldiers were wounded or killed in the intense battle.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturdays 9am-5pm. FREE. Two Hours.
The site offers a driving tour which runs through different sites in the Bentonville community, interpretive driving pull-offs, and walking trails of Union earthworks that are still intact. In March each year, the site holds a reenactment anniversary event with military and living-history demonstrations. Every five years over the weekend closest to the battle they host battle reenactments, and the next major event will be hosted in March, 2020.
5466 Harper House Road, Four Oaks
11:00am Benson Museum of Local History
Step back into another era at this museum which was established in 1987 to collect, preserve, and display items of historical significance related to the Benson area. Visitors will see exhibits on a variety of subjects including farming, home life, local artists, merchants, military history, plus much more.
Hours: Wednesday-Thursday 11am-3pm, Friday-Saturday 10am-3:30pm. Free. 45 min.
102 W. Main Street, Benson
12:00N Lunch at Holt Lake
Enjoy North Carolina Barbecue, seafood, and county-style cookin' served with hush puppies and sweet tea.
3506 US Hwy 301 South, Smithfield
2:00pm Johnston County Heritage Center
After a day in our area, you will know we have a rich and diverse heritage from colonial times, through the Civil War to heritage sites, helping to keep our southern traditions alive. To catch a glimpse of the rest of the story, visit the Johnston County Heritage Center with rotating museum exhibits chronicling several great stories of the people of Johnston County.
Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm. FREE. 45 minutes.
241 E. Market Street, Smithfield
3:00p Tobacco Farm Life Museum, Kenly
Travel through rural Johnston County on to the Tobacco Farm Life Museum, which has been preserving the history and cultural heritage of the eastern North Carolina farmer for over 20 years. The 6,000 sq. foot museum has exhibits on farm methods, home life and traditions of farm families and a children's hand-on play area. The Brown-Iredell homestead was moved to the site and restored and includes sleeping quarters, detached kitchen, tobacco barn, and pack house.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9:30am-5pm. Admission Fee. One hour.
709 North Church Street, Kenly