Johnston County was founded in 1746 from a portion of Craven County. The county covers an area of 796 square miles with only 4 square miles being water. The county received its name from Gabriel Johnston who served as Governor of North Carolina from 1734 until 1752. The county seat is Smithfield
The largest Civil War Battlefield, the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic site is located in Johnston County. The battle took place from March 19th to 21st 1865 and was the only Confederate offense targeted to put a stop to General Sherman’s destructive march across the entire South. The last shot of the civil war was fired from this historic battleground.
In Kenly you will find the Tobacco Farm Life Museum, which has been collecting and displaying artifacts of the local farmers of Eastern North Carolina for over 25 years. This is the site of various events each year. It is here that you will find a museum, restored farmstead, working blacksmith shop and a one-room schoolhouse.
I am sure we all remember the lovely and talented Ava Gardner; she was born and raised in Johnston County. In Smithfield you will be able to relive the fabulous memories at the Ava Gardner Museum, with a collection of artifacts, movie scripts, posters, costumes and some of the personal belongings of Ava. The Johnston County Arts Council holds an annual even to celebrate the life of the actress.
If you are into history and genealogy, you will surely want to visit the Johnston County Heritage Center in downtown Smithfield, as they have the best equipped facilities in the country for the study of history and genealogy. They have artifacts from all over the county.