Pierce County was created in 1859 through an act of the Territorial Legislature. It was named in honor of Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States.

The Ponca Indians, who lived along the Niobrara River, once used this area as a hunting and fishing ground. The Poncas were a friendly tribe and coexisted well with the first white settlers. But in 1876 the federal government ordered the Poncas to relocate to Oklahoma. White settlers would later tell of the Poncas' tearful departure when they bid them farewell. Some years later, after becoming disheartened with Oklahoma, some of the Poncas would return to Nebraska and the Niobrara River. En route, they passed through Pierce County and called on the white settlers.

The settlement of Willow Creek, the forerunner to Pierce, was established in 1870. The first house was a slab and sod structure that would serve as a post office, hotel and courthouse. When the county's first election was held on July 26 of that year, this settlement would be designated as the county seat and the name changed to Pierce.

Pierce County residents immediately began building a courthouse. Using tax dollars that had been collected, the county built a large, two-story frame building for a cost of $4,000. In 1890 a brick courthouse and jail costing $25,000 replaced the original structure. This building would serve the county until the 1970s, when it became obvious to local residents that a larger, more modern courthouse was needed.

Construction on the present courthouse began in 1974. The first wing, built directly west of the 1890 courthouse, was occupied a year later. In 1977 the original courthouse was demolished and construction began on the second wing, which would complete the courthouse two years later.

The entire cost of the new courthouse was financed and paid for through revenue sharing funds and courthouse and jail sinking funds. Upon completion, the courthouse was completely paid for without new local taxation.