Johnston County was created in 1740 from the western part of Craven County. The county was named after Gabriel Johnston, who was the Royal Governor in 1734--1752. The county seat is Smithfield, which was incorporated in 1777. Also in Johnston County are the towns and communities of Clayton, Selma, Benson, Kenly, Four Oaks, Pine Level, Princeton, Wilson's Mills, and Micro. Johnston County is bounded by the following counties: Wilson, Wayne, Sampson, Cumberland, Harnett, Wake, and Nash counties. From 1771-1776, the County Seat was called Johnston Court House until Smithfield was established the following year.
Changes to the County Boundary
Since it's creation, the boundary lines have changed for Johnston County. Below is a list of changes
- 1752, Orange County was created from parts of Bladen, Granville, and Johnston Counties
- 1758, Dobbs County (no longer exists), was formed from the southern part of Johnston County
- 1770, Wake County was created from the nothern part of Johnston County as well as parts of Cumberland County and Orange County
- 1777, Johnston gained from Duplin County above Dismal Creek
- 1855, Wilson County was created from parts of Edgecombe, Nash, Johnston, and Wayne Counties
Battle of Bentonville
The Battle of Bentonville was the biggest battle of the Civil War fought in North Carolina. The battle took place in Johnston County March 19-21, 1865. There were reports that Sherman's army (union) was marching toward Goldsboro. General Joseph E. Johnston, which a much smaller army, hoped to delay the troops from reaching Goldsboro and meeting up with Major General John M. Shofield's union troops that were already there. You can read more about the battle on NCpedia, the NC digital encyclopedia, a project with the State Library of North Carolina. There is also a state historic site in the town of Four Oaks.
Records and resources on other sites
I have no intention of duplicating others work, also, some original records have been put online through a collaboration of the State Library of North Carolina and the State Archives of North Carolina. Below is a list to other records online
- Tax lists of 1784 and 1815
- Johnston County Cemetery Survey (most are prior to 1914. Click "Download" on the right side of the screen towards the top in order to see the full document. If searching specific surname, enter in search field and it will highlight any pages with that surname)
- Johnston County USGenWeb site - Includes census records from 1784 to 1840
- History of Johnston County from the NCpedia
- Johnston County Heritage Center
- Johnston County Cemetery Survey - a list of burials mostly before 1914 taken by the WPA Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. A few after 1914 are listed, but very few.
- Cemeteries of Johnston County