Bartow is the county seat of Polk County, Florida, United States. Founded in 1851 as Fort Blount, the city was renamed in honor of Francis S. Bartow, the first brigade commander of the Confederate Army to die in combat during the American Civil War. According to the 2010 Census, the city had a population of 17,298 and an estimated population of 19,926 in 2018. It is part of the Lakeland−Winter Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had an estimated population of 584,383 in 2009. As of 2019, the mayor of Bartow is Billy Simpson.