The name Baler originated from the term “balod,” which is the indigenous name for mountain doves or palomas montes that abound in the area.   It was founded as a mission by Franciscan missionaries headed by Fr. Blas Palomino in 1609. The early inhabitants were the Dumagat and Ilongot natives. In 1611, Fr. Francisco de San Antonio built its first church made of bamboo and nipa. In 1658, the ecclesiastical administration of Baler was turned-over to the Augustinian Recollects.  In 1703 Baler was returned to the Franciscans.

On December 27, 1935, a big tidal wave or “tromba marina” wiped out the town, then located at Barrio Sabang. An undetermined number of its inhabitants were drowned and only 14 families survived. Among the survivors were the Angaras, Bijasas, Bitongs, Lumasacs, Carrascos and Pobletes. The Muslim raiders attacked Baler, Casiguran and Palanan in 1798.

        When military district of El Principe was created in 1856, Baler became its capital. It was also made up of the settlements of San Jose de Casecnan (now the town of Maria Aurora), San Miguel de Dipaculao and Casiguran. The region was placed under the administration of a political-military governor.

       During the Philippine Revolution, a local Katipunan chapter was organized by Teodorico Luna Novicio, Norberto Valenzuela and Antero Amatorio, former gobernadorcillo of Baler. Novicio informed Gen. Aguinaldo that they were ready to fight the colonizers. Upon Aguinaldo’s approval, he gathered his men at the barrio of Dikaloyungan and resolved to commence hostilities after tearing their cedulas. A blood compact also took place in Dikaloyungan on September 3, 1897. A manifesto was issued urging the people to rise up in arms.

        The town of Baler was put under a brief period of military government when the American forces came. On June 12, 1902 a civil government was established, moving the district of El Principe away from the administrative jurisdiction of Nueva Ecija, which had controlled it since 1818, and placing it under the jurisdiction of Tayabas Province.