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Columbia City is a small community in northeast Indiana, covering an area of 5.21 square miles. It has a population of 8,850 as of the 2010 census. Columbia City serves as the seat of Whitley County.
It is generally unknown who the first official settler in the region was, but it is thought to be a man named Asa Shoemaker, who settled at Big Spring Creek in what is now Columbia Township in 1837.
Columbia City was founded in 1839, one year after the formation of Whitley County. It was originally called “Columbia,” but in 1854, a desire rose to have the post office and city conform in their name. The post office at the time was known as “Whitley Court House,” as there was another Columbia in the state. A public debate presented many potential names for the city, but it was eventually reduced to two; “Beaver,” in honor of a noted Native American whose reservation took up much of the nearby area, and “Columbia City.” In the end, the name was decided to be Columbia City by three votes.
Columbia City would remain a very small town until the completion of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, & Chicago Railway in 1856. This and other roadways completed later into the city caused a rapid growth in population, attracting businesses and settlers. From 1860 to 1875, the population tripled.