Johnston was formed in 1746 from Craven. It was named in honor of Gabriel Johnston, Governor of North Carolina, 1734-1752. It is in the eastern section of the State and is bounded by Wilson, Wayne, Sampson, Cumberland, Harnett, Wake and Nash counties. The present land area is 791.85 square miles and the 2000 population was 121,900. The first court was held at the home of Francis Stringer at the Ferry of Neuse River. Court was held at Hinton's Quarter on the south side of Neuse River, 1759-1760, and probably before that date. In August, 1771, it was held at John Smith's. From 1771 to 1776 the county seat was called Johnston Court House. In 1771 Smithfield was established "where the Court House, prison and stocks now stand." Smithfield is the county seat.