Lacey was originally called Woodland after settlers Isaac and Catherine Wood, who claimed land there in 1853. By 1891, the town of Woodland had a large enough population to apply for a post office. The request was denied because there was already a town called Woodland on the Columbia River.
The name Lacey was chosen for the new post office application, presumably after O. C. Lacey, the local Justice of the Peace. The small settlements of Woodland and Chambers Prairie consolidated into Lacey in the 1950s. The city of Lacey was not officially incorporated until December 5, 1966.
At the time, the main industries were cattle, milk, forest products, and retail. Lacey became a commuter town for Olympia, Fort Lewis and to some extent, Tacoma; in recent years, however, business developments, community groups, and population growth have led Lacey to develop into a city in its own right.