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Belton is the Bell County seat. Founded in was founded in 1850 Belton has historically served as both the local government center of the county and as a marketplace and shipping point for area farmers and ranchers. Between 1860 and 1880, Belton was a regional center for the cattle boom and even became an important stopping point for cattle herds along the famed Chisholm Trail. Between 1880 and 1930, Belton was a processing center for the regional cotton crop which became the county’s principal cash crop during this period, particularly in the blackland prairie region in east Bell County. Belton’s long and distinctive past is evidenced by the city’s many historic homes and commercial buildings. Charming storefronts characterize the historic commercial district, the center of which is the impressive Bell County Courthouse, built in 1885. Today Belton is home to an estimated 20,500 people, as well as the Bell County Expo Center and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, which had an enrollment of 3,898 students in the year 2015.