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The city is the headquarters of Caterpillar Inc., one of the United States' largest construction equipment manufacturers, which has a major manufacturing plant just outside Belleville. Other industries include agriculture, small businesses and transportation. The site of what was first developed as an Indian trading post in 1769 by Pierre Laclède and his stepson Auguste Chouteau on an ancient American Indian trail that ran through St. Clair County near present-day Old Mines (St. Louis), it became a village in 1817 when Auguste Chouteau established a fur trading post there with Joseph Robidoux's company; it was incorporated as Belleville on March 1, 1838 after being laid out by James Pugh and named for his wife's hometown of Belleville, Ontario – itself named for French Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau's novel "La Nouvelle Héloïse" ("New Eloise"). It served as the county seat until after Illinois became a state in 1818 (when Shawneetown took over that role).