Listed as one of the fastest growing counties in the state, Johnston County covers almost 800 square miles southeast of Raleigh. But did you know, Johnston County used to be THREE TIMES the size it is now?! It encompassed ALL of modern-day Wake, Wayne Greene, Lenior…and even parts of Wilson county! In 1746, the Colonial assembly first carved Johnston County out of Craven County. Then in 1758, Dobbs County was carved out, and that put Clayton right in the center of Johnston County. A new courthouse, with a prison and stocks, was built on William’s Hinton’s plantation in the area of what is now the intersection of US 70 and NC42E. Roads were built to the courthouse and a ferry was even commissioned to carry people over the Neuse River. Nathaniel Cary got a license for a tavern near the courthouse in 1760. It was a hub of activity.
It was there at Hinton's Quarter Courthouse that a violent tax revolt took place in the summer of 1768, as backwoodsmen known as The Regulators attempted to take over the county court by force. The Regulators were a large group of North Carolina colonists who opposed the taxation and fee system imposed by colonial officials and they would lead many battles with colonial militia. In 1768, a mob armed with clubs repulsed the Regulators at the courthouse and reclaimed power for the local ruling elite. The courthouse also witnessed Governor William Tryon and his troops march through in 1771. He was one of the most notorious royal governors of North Carolina.
Information on the Hinton’s Quarter Courthouse was provided by the Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library’s History Room. The Johnston County Heritage Commission has chosen Clayton’s Hinton’s Quarter courthouse site to receive one of the county’s first five historical markers. The markers designate places or persons of local, state, or national significance. The markers are funded by a Capital Grant from the Johnston County Visitors Bureau, with matching funds for the Hinton’s Quarter marker provided by the Clayton Historical Association and the Johnston County Heritage Commission. It will be placed near the intersection of Front Street and NC Highway 42 East and will be unveiled in a special ceremony in late June during our Sesquicentennial year.