Term: Columbia County [origin of place name]
Columbia (originally Portage; see Portage, post.) County - probably named in honor of Christopher Columbus. Wis. Hist. Colls., i, p. 112. Gannett, Place Names, p. 79, appears to indicate that the name was taken from Columbia River. It was more probably given because of the town of Columbus, which was first established as Columbus precinct in 1842, and was the first county-seat of Columbia County. See A. J. Turner, Family Tree of Columbia County (Portage, 1904).
Description from John W. Hunt's 1853 Wisconsin Gazetteer: "COLUMBIA, County, is bounded on the north by Adams and Marquette, on the east by Dodge, on the south by Dane, and on the west by Sauk; and is located mostly in the vicinity of the Portage of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. It was set off from Portage and organized February 3, 1846. ¿ The streams of this county are: the Fox, (Neenah), Wisconsin, and Crawfish rivers, and Rocky Run, Ockie, Spring, and Duck creeks. For fertility of soil and feasibility of lands, the most of which are openings and prairie, this county is unsurpassed by any other in the State. ¿ The towns of Winnebago, Port Hope, Marcellon, Scott, Randolph, Portage, Prairie, Spring Vale, and Wyocena, forming the first; and the towns of Columbus, Fountain Prairie, Hampden, Otsego, Leeds, Lowville, Lodi, Dekorra, Westpoint, and Caledonia, the second district. The vote of the electors at the annual town meeting in April, 1851, permanently located the seat of justice at Fort Winnebago... The population in 1846 was 1,969; 1847, 3,791; 1850, 9,565. Farms, 998; manufactories, 25; dwellings, 1,855."
[Source: Kellogg, Louise Phelps. "Derivation of County Names" in Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin for 1909, pages 219-231.]