Photo by Mary Catanese

Welcome to my blog about the history of Princeton, Wisconsin. My name is Roger Bartel, which we pronounce as Bar-tell but others in the Princeton area have always pronounced as Bartl.

My great-great-grandfather, Ignatius Barthol, brought his family here from Poland (Prussia) in 1863 and settled in Mecan Township. The oldest son, Thomas, had arrived three years earlier and purchased land in Princeton Township.

The Barthol name became Bartol on some immigration papers. We aren’t sure why our great-grandfather later opted for Bartel, changing both the spelling and pronunciation used by his father and brothers.

About 90 years after my ancestors arrived in the U.S., I was born at Berlin Hospital to Josephine “Joey” and Harold Bartel. I grew up on Wisconsin Street in Princeton, graduated from St. John the Baptist Catholic School, attended high school at Holy Name Seminary in Madison and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1974 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism and history.

I retired in late 2017 after a lengthy career in print journalism and returned to Princeton to, among other things, work on the history of Princeton. I published “Bartel’s History of Princeton, Volume I: From the New World to the New Deal,” in December 2020 to help mark the centennial of Princeton’s incorporation as a city. I have always been interested in local history but did not have an opportunity to begin preliminary research until the summer of 2018.

In the blog I will discuss various aspects of local history, focusing primarily on the 19th and early 20th centuries, and correct errors found in previous historical accounts. The City of Princeton’s Historical Walking Tour, for example, is riddled with mistakes regarding the historic downtown district. We will also discuss other aspects of local history as we attempt to provide a more accurate picture of our past. If you spot any errors in my entries, please let me know and I will correct as soon as possible.

Thank you for reading and caring about the history of Princeton!


  1. Beginning my journey through your blog now. Looking forward to it. Will have questions, I am sure. My first question is this: where do you get access to the earliest Princeton newspapers? Madison only? I sent an earlier message through the contact link but received no reply. Working through the book with special interest in St. John’s Lutheran Church pre-Hoyer early history and biographical information on “the St. John’s 16” – the founding members. Also, the first two pastors, J.J. Kern and Paul Lucas.
    John Dolan

  2. Hi Roger! I happened upon your page and love all of your information! I am Ellen Golz Kirschbaum, the second daughter of Bob and Verdell Stelter Golz. My dad grew up on the Golz homestead (century farm this year) on Co T just outside of Princeton. My mom grew up in the Town of Mecan, but attended and graduated from Princeton High School with my dad in 1947. My mom was a registered nurse and worked with your mom at Dr. McNutt’s office for a number of years before her death in 1977. I have very fond memories of your mom! Keep up the great work!

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