Our Rich History
White County was formed in 1835, by the territorial legislature from parts of Jackson, Pulaski, and Independence counties and was named for Hugh Lawson White, a U.S. Senator from Tennessee. The county seat is Searcy.
Photo by Dan McClure
The White County Courthouse
The White County Courthouse, built in 1871 is said to be the oldest functional courthouse in Arkansas and has an elaborate clock tower that resembles the Liberty Bell and dates back to 1855. A statue located on the southeast corner of the court square honors the Confederate Soldiers. A new statue built of six tons of granite, was recently constructed on the courthouse lawn honoring those soldiers of White County who died in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, with each soldier’s name inscribed on the monument. A Vietnam War memorial already sits on the courthouse grounds. A fire in the courthouse some years ago necessitated extensive repair, and the courtroom was restored to its original 19th century look with hardwood flooring and oak benches. The entire courthouse is outlined in lights and comes alive in December each year when the Christmas ”Festival of Lights” is observed. Hundreds of tourists visit the area at this time of year.
Arkansas is named after the Quapaw. In the mid 1600's the French explores, Marquette and Joliet, when traveling down the Mississippi used the Illini Indians as their guides. The guides referred to the Quapaw tribe as "Akansea" - People of the South Wind. This was the name the Illini Indians had given them in their own language, and that was how the French had written it down on their maps.
Francis Francure via Spanish Land Grant #2416 founded Georgetown in 1789 as a trading post and it is the oldest town in Arkansas that has been inhabited continously, Mt. Pisgah being the second. The Arkansas Post was the first settlement founded.
When territorial status was achieved in 1819, Arkansas began with only five counties -- Arkansas, Clark, Hempstead, Lawrence and Pulaski.
Searcy Landing was the Ferry Crossing on the Grand Glaise - Searcy Stagecoach Road where it crossed the Little Red River and on the West bank. French pioneer, John Fayac had received Spanish Grant #2312 before 1800. The crossing was just downriver from the present bridge bf the V.F.W. on C.W. Road and the River Oaks subdivision now occupies this land.
Beeler Ferry, licensed in 1839, due north of Searcy, was on the Searcy - Batesville Road, a principal route across central Arkansas until bridges and roads were built after World War I.
White County, the second largest county in the state was created and received its name 10-23-1835 from Hugh Lawson White of Tennessee, Whig candidate for President. Searcy is the county seat and the largest community in its borders. Parent Counties Independence, Jackson, and Pulaski. Progeny County Cleburne 1883. County Boundary Changes: Line with Pulaski changed 3 Feb 1843, part of Conway annexed 11 Jan 1853, line with Prairie defined 17 Apr 1873.)
Searcy was originally called White Sulpher Springs at the time the county was formed and was the site of a health spa in the 1820's until the springs, which had three kinds of water running out of the ground - white sulpher, chalybeate and alum, dried up. In 1837, when the state Legislature formed White County, it stipulated that the seat be named Searcy. Richard Searcy born about 1796 in Tennessee and died at age 36 in 1832 and a prominent Arkansas Legislator. After the Civil War Issac M. Moore donated the area around the springs to the town as a park.
The home of David Crise, Searcy's first permanent resident, served as White County's first courthouse in 1837 until a log structure was built on land donated by James Walker and where the present courthouse stands. This was replaced about 1850 by a frame courthouse which served until 1870 when the present Georgian style building was constructed. There were two additions, both in 1912.