The first known settlers in Princeton Township were Giles M. and Haswell H. Pineo (in 1835) and Daniel Hire, about two years later. By 1838, Elizabeth City — the predecessor to Princeton — had its first store, ferry across the nearby Wapsipinicon River, mill and distillery were in operation.
The city now known as Princeton was platted and recorded in 1852, and the city was incorporated in 1860. Rail service to Chicago began in 1860. Samuel Porter was the first elected mayor in 1858, for a population of 500. The population has fluctuated several times through the years, and today stands at nearly 1,000 residents.