The first exploration of the territory was most likely that of Hendrick
Hudson who in 1609 sailed across the Atlantic and up the river which
now bears his name. An accident to his craft forced him to stop and
come ashore to visit the area. The native inhabitants of the region
were the Mohican Indians. A lively trade was established by 1612 and
early settlers began to colonize various regions. The establishments
of Fort Orange and New Amsterdam in 1624 allowed traders and travelers
to frequently stopped along the shores of Columbia. Small settlements
sprang up to supply goods to these ships.
Fort Orange was eventually renamed Albany. Ultimately by an act
passed on March 24, 1772 the region now known as Columbia County
was divided and formed into various districts from a portion of Albany
county. These districts consisted of Kinderhook in the northwest,
King's in the northeast, Claverack in the central portion , and Livingston
Manor in the southern. The Germantown district was formed from part
of Livingston manor on April 1, 1775 and the Hillsdale district was
taken from Claverack on March 26, 1782.
The City of Hudson was incorporated April 22, 1785 to included territory
within the boundaries of the Stockport Creek on the north, The Claverack
Creek on the east, The north line of the manor of Livingston on the
south, and the Hudson River on the west.
These districts were all formed before the organization of Columbia
County which was erected by act of legislature, passed April 4, 1786.
Seven original towns consisting of Kinderhook, Canaan, Claverack,
Hillsdale, Clermont, Germantown and Livingston were erected by an
act passed March 7, 1788. Additional towns were formed and erected
at various times during the late 1700's and early 1800's increasing
the total to 18.