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.