Belton is a city in the U.S. state of Texas, within the Killeen-Temple metropolitan area. The city is on the Interstate 35 corridor between Austin and Waco and is the seat of Bell County. The population was 22,885 in 2019 according to a US Census Estimate. As of 2019 the metro region had a population of 450,051. Although the county seat and a sizable city itself, Belton is by far the smallest of the three principal cities in Bell County, even appearing as more of a suburb of Temple. Belton and Bell County have been the site of human habitation since at least 6000 BC. Evidence of early inhabitants, including campsites, kitchen middens and burial mounds from the late prehistoric era have been discovered in the Stillhouse Hollow Lake and Belton Lake areas. The earliest identifiable inhabitants were the Tonkawa, who traditionally followed buffalo by foot. Belton was also home to the Lipan Apache, Wacos, Nadaco, Kiowas and Comanche. By the 1840s most tribes had been pushed out by settlements, but skirmishes with the Commanches existed until the early 1870s.
Belton was first settled 1850 and named Nolanville, taking the name of nearby Nolan Springs which were named for Texan explorer Philip Nolan. In 1851, it changed its name to Belton after being named the county seat of newly created Bell County named after Peter Hansborough Bell, the Governor of Texas at that time. In 1860, the population was 300, the largest in the county. During the run up to the civil war, Belton had a large pro-Union minority. A Whig Party paper and anti-secession paper called "The Independent" was published there and the city voted overwhelmingly for Sam Houston for governor, who was strongly against Texas secession. Nonetheless, in 1861 Bell County voted for secession and many residents fought in the Confederate Army. After the civil war, Belton experienced unrest. Several pro-union sympathizers were lynched in 1866 and Federal troops were called in to protect the Federal Judge serving in the city. After Reconstruction, the city, close to a major feeder of the Chisholm Trail, served as growing business center for the region.
As of the census of 2000, there were 14,623 people, 4,742 households, and 3,319 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,171.3 people per square mile (452.4/km2). There were 5,089 housing units at an average density of 407.6 per square mile (157.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 72.67% White, 8.10% African American, 0.64% Native American, 0.95% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 14.83% from other races, and 2.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 25.13% of the population. There were 4,742 households, out of which 37.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.9% were married couples living together, 16.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.0% were non-families. 24.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.23. In the city, the population was spread out, with 26.9% under the age of 18, 18.4% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 17.1% from 45 to 64, and 11.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.