Princeton history

Princeton, Texas (Collin County). Princeton is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 380 and Farm Roads 75, 1377 and 982, seven miles east of McKinney in east central Collin County. In late 1870, T.B. Wilson and his brother, George, began farming near the site of future Princeton.

In 1881, the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad Company extended its lines from Greenville to McKinney, passing through land owned by the brothers. The name Wilson’s Switch was commonly used to designate the area. When residents applied for a post office branch, however, they learned that the name Wilson was already being used. The community then submitted the name Princeton in honor of Prince Dowlin, a landowner and promoter of the town. The name was accepted and a post office was established in 1888.

Located in the rich agricultural region of the Blackland Prairie, Princeton   quickly became a commercial center for area farmers. In addition to providing mills and grain elevators for wheat, corn, onions and sorghum, the town also housed a lumber factory that became the state’s largest producer of bois d’arc lumber. By the mid-1920s, the town provided electricity, water, natural gas, and paved roads for 500 residents. It also had more than twenty-five businesses, including a bank, and a weekly newspaper.

During World War II, Princeton was one of 120 Texas towns to house a camp for prisoners of war. The city employed the prisoners to make improvements, including enlarging the public park. Following the war, the town’s population remained 564 until the completion in 1953 of Lake Lavon, five miles away. The proximity of the lake helped raise the population to 1,100 by 1972. The growth of the Dallas Metropolitan area and the emergence of nearby Plano as the business center for Collin County caused the population to increase to 3,408 by 1982. By 1988, more than thirty businesses were located in the town, which was surrounded by horse and cattle ranches and productive farming. Princeton is known as an onion-growing center. In 1990, the population was 2,321. The population grew to 3,477 in 2000.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Roy Franklin Hall and Helen Gibbard Hall, Collin County: Pioneering in North Texas (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1975) J. Lee and Lillian J. Stambaugh, A History of Collin County (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1958).

Citation David Minor

The following adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

David Minor, PRINCETON, TX (COLLIN COUNTY), “Handbook of Texas Online”
(, accessed May 18, 2011.
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.