The creation of the Fort Gratiot Turnpike, now known as Gratiot Road, in 1832 led to the settlement of Columbus Township. Columbus Township was organized as a township on March 11, 1837. The Township was named for explorer Christopher Columbus, and Theodore Bethey served as the Township's first supervisor. In 1839 the Grand Trunk Western Railroad opened a small train station. In 1859, a 12-year-old Thomas Edison was given his first job, as a newsboy on the Grand Trunk Western Railroad line between Port Huron and Detroit. In 1992, the Richmond Area Historical and Genealogical Society moved the 1900-era Grand Trunk Railroad Depot located in Hickey to the nearby community of Richmond.
In 1845 the population was 315. In 1880, the township's population increased to 1,327, and by 2000 the population had grown to 4,615.