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Johnston County Info

Formed in 1746 from Craven County; named in honor of Gabriel Johnston, Royal Governor of North Carolina 1734-1752.

795 square miles, North Carolina's eleventh largest county

County Seat
Smithfield, NC

Famous Johnstonians

  • Ava Gardner - Hollywood movie actress
  • Barry Foote - Major league baseball player for the New York Yankees and Montreal Expos
  • Edward Pou - Congressman in U.S. House of Representatives from 1901 to 1934
  • Lunsford Richardson - inventor of Vicks Vapo-Rub, Selma, NC
  • Neal Lancaster - PGA golfer at the Johnston County Country Club
  • Gregory Helms - professional wrestler, entertainer
  • Chris Archer - professional baseball pitcher in the organization of the Tampa Bay Rays of MLB
  • Jerry Sands - professional baseball outfielder and first baseman for the Boston Red Sox of MLB

Highest Elevation
370 feet, near Clayton History

East-central part of North Carolina; bounded by Wilson, Wayne, Sampson, Harnett, Wake and Nash counties.

Archer Lodge, Benson, Clayton, Four Oaks, Kenly, Micro, Pine Level, Princeton, Selma, Smithfield and·Wilson's Mills

Oldest Town
Smithfield, formed in 1777

172, 595 (2011); fastest growing county in North Carolina in the last ten years; in top 100 fastest growing counties in United States during same period.

Neuse River, Little River

Johnston County was formed in 1746 from Craven County.  It is named for Gabriel Johnston, royal governor of North Carolina from 1734 to 1752.

Johnston 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 75 discount outlets and shops at Factory Stores of America in Smithfield. For more information about what to see and do in Johnston County, see the Johnston County Visitors Bureau web site.

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.


For more information on Johnston County Government, contact:

Rick Hester, County Manager
P.O. Box 1049
Smithfield, NC  27577

Johnston County Visitors BureauThe Johnston County Visitors Bureau is the county-wide destination marketing organization responsible for promotion of all tourism-related visitor industry businesses to attract and serve visitors to Johnston County. The Johnston County Visitors Bureau is funded by a 3% county-wide occupancy tax paid by visitors staying in lodging properties and 100% is remitted to the bureau for promotion and tourism development purposes. In addition, the towns of Smithfield, Selma, Kenly and Benson have an a dedicated 2% occupancy tax that is utilized exclusively for each town's marketing programs.

For more information about the Johnston County Visitors Bureau, contact:

Donna Bailey-Taylor, CDME
Executive Director
235-A East Market Street
Smithfield, NC 27577
fax: 919-989-6295
toll free: 1-800-441-7829


235-A East Market Street
Smithfield, North Carolina 27577

tel 919.989.8687  |  fax 919.989.6295
toll free 1.800.441.7829

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