Johnston County, North Carolina

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Johnston County
Johnston County Courthouse
Johnston County Courthouse
Flag of Johnston County
Official seal of Johnston County
Official logo of Johnston County
Map of North Carolina highlighting Johnston County
Location within the U.S. state of North Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 35°31′N 78°22′W / 35.52°N 78.37°W / 35.52; -78.37
Country United States
State North Carolina
Founded1746
Named forGabriel Johnston
SeatSmithfield
Largest townClayton
Area
 • Total796 sq mi (2,060 km2)
 • Land791 sq mi (2,050 km2)
 • Water4.2 sq mi (11 km2)  0.5%
Population
 • Estimate 
(2021)
226,504
 • Density286.4/sq mi (110.6/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
27501, 27504, 27520, 27524, 27527, 27529, 27542, 27555, 27557, 27568, 27569, 27576, 27577, 27591, 27592, 27597, 27603, 28334, 28366
Area code919, 984
Congressional district13th
Websitewww.johnstonnc.com

Johnston County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2020 census, the population was 215,999.[1] Its county seat is Smithfield.[2]

Johnston County is included in the Raleigh, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Combined Statistical Area, which has a population of 1,998,808 as of U.S. Census 2012 Population Estimates.[3]

History[edit]

The county was formed in 1746 from Craven County. It was named for Gabriel Johnston, Governor of North Carolina from 1734 to 1752.[4] In 1752 parts of Johnston County, Bladen County, and Granville County were combined to form Orange County. In 1758 the eastern part of Johnston County became Dobbs County. In 1770 parts of Johnston County, Cumberland County, and Orange County were combined to form Wake County. Finally, in 1855 parts of Johnston County, Edgecombe County, Nash County, and Wayne County were combined to form Wilson County.

Most early growers in Johnston County were subsistence farmers. A few grew tobacco as a cash crop or reared pigs and cattle, which were sold in Virginia. Smithfield was the westernmost freight port on the Neuse River, and in 1770 the colonial government erected a tobacco warehouse there to store the crop before it was shipped out. Eli Whitney's cotton gin was introduced in the county in about 1804, leading cotton to become the area's leading cash crop. Production for sale at markets remained low before the 1850s due to poor transportation links with other parts of the state. In 1856 the North Carolina Railroad was completed, connecting Johnston County with major urban areas. As result, farming for sale increased, lumber and turpentine industries developed, and the towns of Princeton, Pine Level, Selma, and Clayton were eventually created. About 1,500 Johnstonian men fought in the American Civil War, of whom about a third died. Lingering political tensions and the emancipation of slaves created social and economic turmoil. The new state constitution of 1868 created the county's first townships, which were altered up until 1913.[5] In 1886 the "Short-Cut" line of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad was laid through Johnston, eventually giving rise to the towns of Kenly, Micro, Four Oaks, and Benson.[6]

The Panic of 1893 caused cotton prices to sharply decline, leading area farmers to switch to bright leaf tobacco as their primary cash crop. A new tobacco market was established in Smithfield in 1898, and the county's first bank was created. Within several years, cotton mills were erected in Smithfield, Clayton, and Selma. During World War I, a brief surge in tobacco and cotton prices brought a boom to the local economy. As a result, the county embarked on a school-construction campaign and consolidated all public schools under a single county system.[7] In the 1920s the state built the county's first two paved highways, and shortly thereafter many towns began paving their main streets.[8] While local commerce enjoyed significant success during the decade, area farmers struggled due to drops in tobacco and cotton prices. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 and ensuing Great Depression caused all banks in the county close.[7] Following the passage of a state bond issue in 1949, most roads in the county and town streets were paved.[9]

Geography[edit]

Interactive map of Johnston County

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 796 square miles (2,060 km2), of which 791 square miles (2,050 km2) is land and 4.2 square miles (11 km2) (0.5%) is water.[10]

State and local protected areas[edit]

Major water bodies[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Major highways[edit]

Major infrastructure[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
17905,691
18006,30110.7%
18106,8679.0%
18209,60739.9%
183010,93813.9%
184010,599−3.1%
185013,72629.5%
186015,65614.1%
187016,8977.9%
188023,46138.8%
189027,23916.1%
190032,25018.4%
191041,40128.4%
192048,99818.3%
193057,62117.6%
194063,79810.7%
195065,9063.3%
196062,936−4.5%
197061,737−1.9%
198070,59914.4%
199081,30615.2%
2000121,96550.0%
2010168,87838.5%
2020215,99927.9%
2021 (est.)226,504[11]4.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
1790-1960[13] 1900-1990[14]
1990-2000[15] 2010-2013[16]
2020[1]

2020 census[edit]

Johnston County racial composition[17]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 136,464 63.18%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 33,041 15.3%
Native American 880 0.41%
Asian 1,831 0.85%
Pacific Islander 71 0.03%
Other/Mixed 9,312 4.31%
Hispanic or Latino 34,400 15.93%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 215,999 people, 73,567 households, and 53,743 families residing in the county.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[18] of 2000, there were 121,965 people, 46,595 households, and 33,688 families residing in the county. The population density was 154 people per square mile (59/km2). There were 50,196 housing units at an average density of 63 per square mile (24/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 78.09% White, 15.65% Black or African American, 0.41% Native American, 0.30% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 4.53% from other races, and 0.99% from two or more races. 7.74% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 46,595 households, out of which 35.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.80% were married couples living together, 10.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.70% were non-families. 23.10% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 26.10% under the age of 18, 8.10% from 18 to 24, 34.20% from 25 to 44, 21.70% from 45 to 64, and 9.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 98.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,872, and the median income for a family was $48,599. Males had a median income of $33,008 versus $25,582 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,788. About 8.90% of families and 12.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.00% of those under age 18 and 19.40% of those age 65 or over.

Law and Government[edit]

The county is governed by the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, a seven-member board of County Commissioners, elected to serve four-year terms. The commissioners enact policies such as establishment of the property tax rate, regulation of land use and zoning outside municipal jurisdictions, and adoption of the annual budget. Commissioners generally meet each month.[19]

Current (2019) members of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners are:[20]

  • Ted G. Godwin, Chairman
  • Chad M. Stewart, Vice Chairman
  • Jeffrey P. Carver
  • Larry Wood
  • Tony Braswell
  • Patrick E. Harris
  • R.S. "Butch" Lawter, Jr.

Rick Hester is the County Manager.

Johnston County is a member of the regional Triangle J Council of Governments. Johnston County 911 is the first 911 Agency in North Carolina to hold "Tri Accreditation" from the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch in Fire, Police, and EMD Protocols.

Politics[edit]

For most of the time after the Civil War, Johnston County was a classic Solid South county, going Democratic in all but three elections from 1880 to 1964. However, from 1968 onward it has turned increasingly Republican, with the only breaks in this tradition being its support for third-party candidate George Wallace in 1968 and for Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976. Carter's unsuccessful bid for reelection in 1980 is the last time that a Democrat has managed even 40 percent of the county's vote.

United States presidential election results for Johnston County, North Carolina[21]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 68,353 61.38% 41,257 37.05% 1,747 1.57%
2016 54,372 63.29% 28,362 33.01% 3,175 3.70%
2012 48,427 63.15% 27,290 35.58% 974 1.27%
2008 43,622 61.42% 26,795 37.73% 600 0.84%
2004 36,903 67.89% 17,266 31.76% 188 0.35%
2000 27,212 66.12% 13,704 33.30% 239 0.58%
1996 18,704 58.23% 11,175 34.79% 2,240 6.97%
1992 15,418 48.67% 11,284 35.62% 4,977 15.71%
1988 15,563 63.97% 8,717 35.83% 49 0.20%
1984 16,210 67.32% 7,833 32.53% 37 0.15%
1980 10,444 51.26% 9,601 47.12% 331 1.62%
1976 8,511 45.08% 10,301 54.56% 67 0.35%
1972 14,272 79.24% 3,488 19.37% 251 1.39%
1968 6,764 33.05% 4,492 21.95% 9,212 45.01%
1964 7,523 42.15% 10,326 57.85% 0 0.00%
1960 6,660 40.18% 9,914 59.82% 0 0.00%
1956 4,893 33.18% 9,852 66.82% 0 0.00%
1952 5,429 35.19% 9,997 64.81% 0 0.00%
1948 3,211 24.71% 9,188 70.69% 598 4.60%
1944 4,423 34.81% 8,282 65.19% 0 0.00%
1940 4,192 29.59% 9,976 70.41% 0 0.00%
1936 4,339 27.83% 11,253 72.17% 0 0.00%
1932 3,887 28.77% 9,574 70.86% 50 0.37%
1928 7,696 60.42% 5,041 39.58% 0 0.00%
1924 4,910 51.20% 4,656 48.56% 23 0.24%
1920 5,588 48.10% 6,030 51.90% 0 0.00%
1916 2,857 45.17% 3,468 54.83% 0 0.00%
1912 1,335 25.80% 2,757 53.28% 1,083 20.93%
1908 2,827 52.16% 2,593 47.84% 0 0.00%
1904 1,553 37.65% 2,572 62.35% 0 0.00%
1900 1,997 38.64% 3,154 61.03% 17 0.33%
1896 1,824 35.29% 3,343 64.67% 2 0.04%
1892 1,036 21.62% 3,135 65.44% 620 12.94%
1888 2,129 41.52% 2,992 58.35% 7 0.14%
1884 1,831 39.50% 2,805 60.50% 0 0.00%
1880 1,631 44.20% 2,059 55.80% 0 0.00%

Education[edit]

Higher education[edit]

Johnston County is home to Johnston Community College (JCC), a public, two-year, post-secondary college located in Smithfield. The college has off-campus centers throughout Johnston County.[22]

Primary and secondary education[edit]

Public education in Johnston County is served by the Johnston County School District, which has 46 schools and serves more than 35,400 students.[23] In addition, three charter schools and five private schools are located in the county. In 2021, the county school board banned the teaching of critical race theory.[24]

Libraries[edit]

The Johnston County Public Affiliated Library system operates six branches throughout the county. The library system keeps books, periodicals and audio books and has recently expanded the selection to include downloadable e-books.[25] The Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library in Clayton left the Johnston County affiliated library system in 2015.[26]

Culture[edit]

The Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site is the largest Civil War battlefield in North Carolina. The Battle of Bentonville was fought in 1865, and was the only Confederate offensive targeted to stop General Sherman's march through the South.

The Tobacco Farm Life Museum in Kenly has been collecting artifacts and showcasing the heritage of the Eastern North Carolina farmer for over 35 years. The site includes a museum and restored farmstead, blacksmith shop, and one-room school house.[27]

The Ava Gardner Museum, located in Smithfield, contains a collection of artifacts such as scripts, movie posters, costumes and personal belongings of actress Ava Gardner, who was born and raised in Johnston County. The museum holds an annual festival.

The Johnston County Heritage Centers in Smithfield contains county artifacts and genealogical records.[28]

The Johnston County Arts Council promotes arts in the county and its schools.[29] Smithfield is the location of an annual Ava Gardner Festival, which celebrates the life of the actress.[30]

The Meadow community is the location of Meadow Lights, an annual display of Christmas lights.[31]

Media[edit]

Radio and Television[edit]

Johnston County is located in the Raleigh-Durham radio market, ranked by Nielsen as the 37th largest in the United States. Johnston County's first radio station, WMPM, 1270 AM, in Smithfield, signed on in 1950.[32] The county is also home to WPYB, 1130 AM in Benson, WHPY, 1590 AM in Clayton, WTSB, 1090 AM in Selma, and WKJO, 102.3 FM in Smithfield.

The county is also part of the larger, 23-county Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville Media marketDesignated Market Area—the nation's 24th-largest. WNGT-CD, (virtual channel 34.1) a Class A low-powered TV station licensed to both Smithfield and Selma. The station began frequency sharing with Raleigh's WRAL-TV in November 2020, greatly expanding its coverage. Goldsboro-licensed CBS affiliate WNCN, virtual channel 17/RF channel 8, originally known as WYED-TV, signed on from studios and a transmitter in Clayton in 1988 before moving to Raleigh studios in 1995.

Newspapers[edit]

  • Clayton News-Star
  • Kenly News
  • Four Oaks-Benson News in Review
  • Princeton News Leader
  • The Selma News
  • Pine Level News
  • Johnstonian News
  • The Daily Record
  • The Smithfield Herald
  • The Cleveland Post
  • The Garner-Cleveland Record
  • The News & Observer

Communities[edit]

Map of Johnston County, North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels

Towns[edit]

Townships[edit]

  • Banner
  • Bentonville
  • Beulah
  • Boon Hill
  • Brogden
  • Clayton
  • Cleveland
  • Elevation
  • Ingrams
  • Meadow
  • Micro
  • O'Neals
  • Pine Level
  • Pleasant Grove
  • Selma
  • Smithfield
  • Wilders
  • Wilson Mills

Unincorporated communities[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Johnston County, North Carolina". www.census.gov. Retrieved April 25, 2022.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "Population Estimates 2012 Combined Statistical Areas: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on March 17, 2013. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States (Report) (2nd ed.). Washington: Government Printing Office. p. 170 – via United States Geological Survey.
  5. ^ Johnson & Barbour 1997, p. 7.
  6. ^ Johnson & Barbour 1997, pp. 7–8.
  7. ^ a b Johnson & Barbour 1997, p. 8.
  8. ^ Johnson & Barbour 1997, p. 8, 13.
  9. ^ Johnson & Barbour 1997, p. 13.
  10. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on January 12, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  11. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Johnston County, North Carolina". www.census.gov. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  12. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  13. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  14. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  15. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 27, 2010. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  16. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  17. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  18. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  19. ^ "Scheduled Board Meetings". www.johnstonnc.com. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  20. ^ "Meet the Commissioners". www.johnstonnc.com. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  21. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  22. ^ "Johnston Community College". Archived from the original on September 23, 2019. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  23. ^ "District Profile - Johnston County Schools". Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  24. ^ "North Carolina school board bans critical race theory from its classrooms". TheGuardian.com. October 5, 2021.
  25. ^ "Johnston County Affiliated Libraries". www.jocolib.org. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  26. ^ "Clayton Transition Announcement". Mary Duncan Public Library. March 6, 2015. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  27. ^ "Home | Tobacco Farm Life Museum, Inc". Tobacco Farm Life Mu. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  28. ^ Mickey (January 28, 2022). "Johnston County Heritage Center Spotlighted In New Video". JoCo Report. Retrieved August 1, 2022.
  29. ^ "Johnston County Arts Council". Archived from the original on February 11, 2008. Retrieved January 13, 2008.
  30. ^ "Ava Gardner Festival". www.johnstoncountync.org. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  31. ^ "Calendar of Events in Smithfield/Johnston County, NC". www.johnstoncountync.org. September 22, 2022. Retrieved September 22, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  32. ^ "Broadcasting Station License Record" (PDF). licensing.fcc.gov. September 22, 2022. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 24, 2021. Retrieved September 22, 2022.

Works cited[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°31′N 78°22′W / 35.52°N 78.37°W / 35.52; -78.37