Established in 1820, Columbia was originally located about a mile south, near where the Omussee Creek flows into the Chatahoochee River. It served as the county seat of Henry County from 1826 to 1833. Bordering the state of Georgia and the Chatahoochee River, Columbia was a major port-of-call for steamboats and was known to many as "Old Columbia." The town was incorporated in 1880 and was the center of education, culture, commerce and trade. Located in the southeast corner of Alabama, Columbia was the largest town in the area during the 19th century and remains one of the area's oldest continuously operating municipalities. When the railroad came in 1889, Columbia's river trade diminished, however, Columbia sustained itself as a thriving farming community through the mid-20th century. Columbia received its first cotton textile mill in 1891 and its first electric plant in 1892. A branch of the Henry County Courthouse was located here from 1889 until Columbia became part of Houston County in 1903.
Established in 2001, the Columbia Historical Society is dedicated to the preservation of Columbia, Alabama's rich history and historical landmarks. Students, individuals and families may join the Columbia Historical Society. Donations to the society, to help in its preservation efforts of the town, are also accepted at any time. The Columbia Historical Society is a tax-exempt organization under the Section 501c(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code.