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History & Facts

To learn more about the history of Clayton, living and working here, visiting our attractions and attending festivals, or if you are relocating to our town, check all the following resources provided.

The community which has grown into the Town of Clayton was built on a road cut by Governor Tryon’s troops around 1770 as they marched North from New Bern to Hillsborough against the Regulators. Nearly 100 years later the railroad came through and the community had it’s first name—Stallings’ Station, since the depot for the North Carolina Railroad was in the home of Mrs. Sarah Stallings. The name lasted only three years, however, before officially becoming Clayton, named for a senator from Delaware. Incorporation followed in 1869.

The new town was far from prosperous, however the Civil War made a depressed local economy even worse. Many prominent citizens moved away during that period.


But, following the war, the railroad was extended and businesses began to pop up. Ashley Horne developed a successful farming and merchandising business to become one of the most successful merchants and manufacturers in all of North Carolina. Horne’s success inspired two other men, McCullers and Barbour, to open businesses that also did well, beginning an era of growth that lasted well into the next century. Among the businesses that flourished during that time were lumber plants, a brick kiln, a cotton gin, a gristmill, a sawmill, tobacco warehouses, cotton mills and a turpentine distillery.

By the early 1900’s, the town had become a major market for cotton, watermelons and tobacco. In 1907, the Raleigh Evening Times of nearby Raleigh wrote that there was “more money per capita in Clayton than any city its size in the world”

Unfortunately, the town lost its financial eminence in the 1930’s with the onset of the Great Depression, and its population grew slowly for the next forty years. The three local cotton mills continued to be a major source of jobs during that time, with 1,000 employees, but the local economy was modest and cotton was soon on its way out. By the early 1960’s the mills were gone and cotton was no longer a player in the local economy. But, tobacco was in, and the population shot up for awhile before settling back down as farming became less and less profitable.

Today, it is a thriving community and the second largest town in Johnston County.

The Clayton Center
(Town Offices, Auditorium, Conference Center)
111 E. Second St.
Clayton, NC 27520

P.O. Box 879
Clayton, NC 27528

Town Office Main Line: 919-553-5002


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 MLB
  • Jerry Sands - professional baseball outfielder and first baseman in the MLB

Highest Elevation
370 feet, near Clayton

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

174,938 (2012); 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

American Business Women's Association
Johnston Charter Chapter
PO Box 651
Smithfield, NC 27577
Meets: 2nd Monday each month at 6:30 pm at Smithfield-Selma Chamber office
Contact: Molly Parker, 919-934-1877

Home Builders Association of Johnston County
PO Box 1746
Smithfield, NC 27577
Meets: 4th Tuesday each month at 6:30 pm at Johnston County Agricultural Center
Contact: Sherry Phillips, 919-934-1938

Johnston County Agribusiness Council
2736 NC Hwy 210
Smithfield, NC 27577
Meets: 1st Thursday of each month at 7:30 am at Parkside Cafe in Pine Level
Contact: Eric Spaulding, 919-989-5380

Johnston County Association of Realtors
Meets: 3rd Tuesday each month (except July & Nov.) at 11:30 am in Room 1404, Johnston Medical Mall
Contact: Dana Wooten, 919-989-9797

Legal Support Staff of Johnston County
PO Box 1567
Smithfield, NC 27577
Meets: 4th Monday of each month at 7:00 pm in various locations
Contact: Jean H. High, 919-934-1575

The Clayton Center
111 E. Second St.
Clayton, NC 27520

Clayton Youth Theater
P.O. Box 879
Clayton, NC 27528

Daughters of the Revolution - Smith Bryan Chapter
Contact: Kelly Luther, 919-934-4470

Johnston County Arts Council
312 S Third St.
Smithfield, NC 27577
Contact: 919-938-0306

Johnston County Genealogical and Historical Society
Meets: 1st Saturday of each month (except Feb, May, Aug and Nov),
7pm at the Johnston County Heritage Center
Contact: Joyce Mitchell, 919-934-2836

Johnston County Heritage Center
241 E. Market Street
PO Box 2709
Smithfield, NC 27577
Contact: Wingate Lassiter, 919-934-2836

United Daughters of the Confederacy
709 S. Vermont Street
Smithfield, NC 27577

American Legion
Meets: 2nd Thursday of each month, 7pm with complimentary meal
1300 Old US Hwy 70 W
P.O. Box 252
Clayton, NC 27520
Contact: Ken Parker, 919-553-6943

Civitan Club
340 McCullers St
Clayton, NC 27520
Contact: Judy Smith, 919-550-0694

Clayton Chamber of Commerce
301 E Main St
Clayton, NC 27520
Contact: Jim Godfrey, 919-553-6352

Clayton Lion's Club
Meets: 1st and 3rd Thursdays, 6:30pm at Lonestar Steakhouse in Clayton
163 Fountain Dr.
Clayton, NC 27520
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Clayton Newcomers & Neighbors
Meets: 4th Wednesday of each month (September- May), 7pm
at the Woman's Club of Clayton, 109 Church St.
Clayton, NC 27520
Contact: Belinda Garvin, President, 919-879-8452

Clayton Rotary
Meets: Thursdays, 7am at Rainbow Lanes Family Fun Center
P.O. Box 462
Clayton, NC 27528
Contact: Stewart McLeod, 919-553-8132

Johnston County Arts Council
312 S Third St.
Smithfield, NC 27577
Contact: 919-938-0306

Kiwanis Club
P.O. Box 133
Contact: Deitra Blount, 919-553-4700

Kiwanis Club of Cleveland Community
19256 NC Hwy. 210 E.
Angier, NC 27501

Woman's Club of Clayton
Meets: 2nd Wednesday of each month (Sept- May), Noon
or 2nd Thursday of each month (Sept- May), 7pm
109 Church S.t
Clayton, NC 27520
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Clayton Junior Women's Club
Meets: 3rd Tuesday of each month, 6:45pm
109 Church St.
Clayton, NC 27520
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Boy Scouts of America, Tuscarora Council
316 E. Walnut Street
Goldsboro, NC, 27530
Phone: 919-734-1714
Neusiok District (Johnston County)

Boys & Girls Clubs of Johnston County
609 N. Pollock Street
Selma, NC 27576
Contact: Mamie Moore, 919-965-5240

Community & Senior Services of Johnston County
1363 W. Market Street
Smithfield, NC 27577
Contact: 919-934-6066

Girl Scouts - North Carolina Coastal Pines
6901 Pinecrest Road
PO Box 52294
Raleigh, NC 27612
Phone: 919-782-3021
Johnston County Contact: Christin Murphy, 919-989-6030

Habitat for Humanity of Johnston County
PO Box 2057
Smithfield, NC 27577
Contact: JoAnne Steward, 919-934-9331

Harbor, Inc.
Shelter for domestic violence
PO Box 1903
Smithfield, NC 27577
Contact: Keri Christensen, 919-938-3566

Johnston Community College Foundation
PO Box 2350
Smithfield, NC 27577
Contact: Twyla Wells, 919-934-3051 or 919-209-2119

Johnston County Animal Protection League
PO Box 607
Smithfield, NC 27577
Phone: 919-989-7601

Johnston County Community Foundation
Northern Piedmont Regional Associate
4601 Six Forks Road, Suite 524
Raleigh, NC 27609
Phone: 919-256-6906

Johnston County Ducks Unlimited
Meets: As needed
Contact: Ken Mitchell, 919-934-3468 or 919-524-9937

Johnston County Education Foundation
PO Box 1075
Smithfield, NC 27577
Contact: Lorine Davis, 919-934-7977

Johnston County Industries
1100 E. Preston Street
Selma, NC 27576
Contact: Vicki Shore, 919-743-8700

Johnston County Mental Health Association
26 Noble Street
Smithfield, NC 27577
Contact: Kathy Daughtry, 919-934-0311

Johnston County Relay For Life
Meets: As needed
Contact: Pat Penny, 919-553-5390

Johnston County Special Olympics
102 Rynal Drive
Garner, NC 27529
Contact: Carol Stafford, 919-550-4838

Johnston County SPCA
720 Durham Street
Clayton, NC 27520
Phone: 919-553-3749

Johnston County YMCA
488 NC Hwy 42 West
PO Box 1447
Clayton, NC 27520
Contact: Melissa Oliver, 919-359-9622

Johnston Medical Center Foundation
PO Box 1336
Smithfield, NC 27577
Contact: Hector Perez, 919-934-8171

Keep Johnston County Beautiful
2736 NC Hwy. 210
Smithfield, NC 27577
Contact: Susan Woodard, 919-934-7156, ext. 3

Partnership for Children of Johnston County
226 E. Market Street
Smithfield, NC 27577
Contact: Dwight Morris, 919-938-2411

Salvation Army Board
Meets: 3rd Wednesday of each month at 12:00 noon at the Salvation Army
Contact: 919-934-9102

Smithfield Rescue Mission
523 Glenn Street
PO Box 681
Smithfield, NC 27577
Contact: Rev. Paul Olsen, 919-989-5160 or 919-934-9257

United Way of Johnston County
201-2 S. Bright Leaf Boulevard
Smithfield, NC 27577
Contact: Molly Parker, 919-934-1877

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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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