The Society is an outgrowth of the establishment and development of the Johnston Library, opened in July of 1988. The first librarian, Lori Belknap, received many queries from newcomers concerning the history of the area. She, in turn, asked Robert Otto, who was chair of the Library committee, about this history. Bob, a Johnston native and retired Johnston High School principal, gathered a group of individuals who were familiar with the area's history. This included Otto, Lowell Temple, Jeanne Hansen, Barbara Zorn, Ray Schleihs and Lori Belknap. They gathered information from organizations, churches, descendants of early settlers, and other sources in Johnston (including their own memorabilia) to compile the history. Nancy Sandstoe typed the the document, which was "published" in 1994. A copy is kept at the Library.
The next development was an invitation from Bob Otto to others in the community who might be interested in the history of Johnston. He called a meeting, held at the Middle School. Ray Schleihs remembers setting up a display at an event held at the Village Square Mall intended to publicize and find those interested in Johnston history.
In June of 1993, a group gathered to form what would become the Johnston (Station) Historical Society. Bob Otto was chair and called meetings from time to time. Consensus was that the group needed to incorporate formally. In April of 1994, through the efforts of attorney Charles Roberts, the society was incorporated under the laws of the State of Iowa.
For some time the society had felt the need for a place to gather, store, and display items concerning Johnston -- a museum and headquarters.
The donation by Laverne and Shirley Simpson of a late 19th century Johnston house presented itself. After some months of negotiations, on March 11, 2001 the Simpsons signed an agreement with the Society to give the house, a wonderful barn and a windmill, to be moved from their present site. The City Council agreed that the structures be moved to a city park in the vicinity of the new library.