Both the town and county of Searcy were named for the same person: Arkansas pioneer Richard Searcy. Born in Tennessee, he headed to Arkansas with the early settlers of Davidsonville. He served as postmaster before moving to Batesville in 1820 to practice law. He became on of the territory's best-known attorneys, which led to him being appointed a territorial court judge for the Batesville district. The town was laid out by Israel Moore who named the original streets for streets in Philadelphia.
The Little Red River and White Sulphur Springs are both a part of Searcy's founding. The springs were developed and attracted visitors with their healing properties.
During the Civil War, the town was involved in battles comprising the Little Rock Campaign.
Today Searcy is a college town. Harding University draws students from around the country and offers arts and athletic events for the community. A major attraction is the White County Fair, which began in 1930. The historic 1874 Black House, a restored 1870s Italianate home on the National Register of Historic Places, now houses the Searcy Art Gallery. The White County Courthouse, the oldest functioning courthouse in the state, is also listed on the National Register. The 1923 Rialto Theatre is a landmark with its splashy neon lighting and is one of only a few historic theaters which still shows daily movies.