History of Johnston, Iowa

The Johnston area got its start in 1846, when Ezekiel Hunt "came west" with his family and established a sawmill near N.W. 58th Street and N.W. Beaver Drive, at the present location of the pallet company. Over the years, the area had names such as Beaver Creek Settlement, Ridgedale and Huntsville. In later years, the expanded area became known as Johnston Station, named after John Johnston, one of the station agents for the Inter-Urban Railroad, which was developed in 1906.

In the late '20's, experiments with hybridizing corn, done by Henry A. Wallace, led to the beginning of Pioneer Hi-Bred Corn Company. By the middle of the 20th century, Pioneer was becoming the leading seed corn producer in the world. Houses and small businesses began to move into the area. Thus the Johnston School District, which was established in 1915, was growing and more facilities were needed to accommodate the growth.

In the early years, the people in the community were content to have limited controls placed on it. The County Sheriff was enough police protection, and the County Board of Supervisors was plenty of government. By 1969, the people in the area were attempting incorporation on a much larger scale than its initial geographical start. Many residents had reservations. The indecisive attitude gave opportunity for established cities near the Johnston area to begin making overtures about annexing the community. To encourage voluntary annexation by Johnston residents, Pioneer "stepped" up and voluntarily petitioned for 1800 acres of their land to be in the newly formed city of Johnston. Bordering cities lost interest about annexation and quickly dropped their own plans. Camp Dodge was included in the 1969 incorporation and the city got its start.

The City of Johnston has a great historical background, with stories about corn and chicken breeding, old coal mines, the stage coach line, and the building of Camp Dodge in World War I.

Voters passed an election to incorporate on June 23, 1969 with a vote of 71 to 13. On September 8, the new mayor and council were sworn in. On December 11, 1969, incorporation papers were signed by the Clerk of the District Court making the incorporation official.

To learn more about the history of Johnston, come join the Johnston (Station) Historical Society. New members of all ages, who want to learn and help record the past and present history of the area, are always welcome.
To learn more, write:

Johnston (Station) Historical Society
6161 Northglenn Drive
Johnston, Iowa 50131

Or call: (515) 608-5730

Or send us an email: johnstonhistoricalsociety@gmail.com