The Town of Clayton had its beginnings in the early 1700s, when settlers began to occupy land formerly inhabited by Tuscarora and Sioux Indians. Originally known as Stallings’ Station, a depot along the North Carolina Railroad, it mostly consisted of several small stores that served the rural area. The first post office, built in 1845, was located just southeast of its present site, under the name of Gulley’s Store, and was officially renamed Clayton in 1856.
The railroad was a critical resource dur- ing the Civil War. When the State of North Carolina and the City of Raleigh surrendered to Union General Tecumseh Sherman in 1865, it occurred on the railroad tracks in Clayton near the O’Neil Street crossing.
Following the Civil War, Clayton saw a surge of activity. Agricultural production increased, and, as a result, new markets formed, both locally and regionally, connected via the railroad to other centers of commerce. The Town of Clayton was incorporated in 1869 and since then, it has become a dynamic, thriving community that has grown into the largest town in Johnston County.