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Commerce, Georgia
"A city on the right track"
Location in Jackson County and the state of Georgia
Location in Jackson County and the state of Georgia
Country United States
State Georgia
County Jackson
 • Total 13.38 sq mi (34.66 km2)
 • Land 13.25 sq mi (34.32 km2)
 • Water 0.13 sq mi (0.34 km2)
912 ft (278 m)
 • Total 7,387
 • Density 557.51/sq mi (215.25/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
30529, 30599
Area code(s) 706
FIPS code 13-19112
GNIS feature ID 0355254

Commerce is a city in Jackson County, Georgia, United States, 70 miles (110 km) northeast of Atlanta. As of the 2020 census, the city had a population of 7,387.


Native American history

Before European settlers arrived, the area around present-day Commerce was inhabited by the Creek and the Cherokee.

The Lacoda Trail, which extended from present-day Athens-Clarke County to the north Georgia mountains, was a significant trade and travel route through this area. (GA Hwy. 334, which follows a nine-mile section of this ancient trail, was designated the "Lacoda Trail Memorial Parkway" by the Georgia General Assembly in 1998.)

Local histories that originated in the mid-1800s describe a territorial war between the Creeks and Cherokees over the land in the county during the 1770s. This war never occurred. The Cherokees were decisively defeated by the Koweta Creeks in 1754. For about a decade after their 1754 defeat, all Cherokee villages in the Georgia colony and the Hiwassee River Valley in North Carolina were abandoned. William Bartram traveled through northeastern Georgia in 1773, and described the Creeks as being completely dominant over the Cherokees. The Cherokees never occupied or held title to lands within the boundaries of Jackson County.

The Creek Confederacy ceded its lands east of the Oconee River in 1785. A subsequent treaty in 1793 ceded the remainder of the land that was to become Jackson County. The last corridor of Creek land, located west of Jackson Count,y was ceded in 1818.

Early white settlement

The first permanent white settlement in Jackson County began near present-day Commerce on January 20, 1784, when German immigrant William Dunson was awarded a land grant on Little Sandy Creek. The settlement was named Groaning Rock, supposedly because of a nearby hollow rock formation that produced a moaning sound when the wind passed over it. (Descendants of William Dunson are still living on the original tract of land.)

A trading post was established by Eli Shankle near Groaning Rock in 1808, named Harmony Grove. The common explanation is that the name is a play on his wife, Rebecca's, maiden name: Hargrove. There is also an old Appalachian hymn tune called "Harmony Grove," found in an 1830 book called "Virginia Harmony." This tune is popular today as the melody to "Amazing Grace."

The Harmony Grove Female Academy, the first all-female school chartered in the state of Georgia, was chartered by the state legislature on December 20, 1824.

The Harmony Grove post office was established on October 14, 1825; Russell Jones was its first postmaster.

On September 1, 1876, the North Eastern Railroad opened its line from Athens to Lula, which passed through the heart of Harmony Grove. The railroad line had the most significant impact on the shape of the city, which began expanding both directions along the line. These tracks are now owned by Norfolk Southern Railway.

City history

The Harmony Grove community was officially incorporated as a town on December 24, 1884, including all areas within a one-mile radius of the railroad depot, one half mile east, and 400 yards west.

Harmony Grove Mills, Inc., was organized under the laws of Jackson County on April 3, 1893, for the purpose of processing and producing cotton textiles. It served various purposes over the years, including the manufacture of denim overalls and the earliest production of electricity in the city. The mill village created to house employees makes up a significant portion of the homes on the southeast end of Commerce today. The mill had been in operation under various corporations until the spring of 2004, when it closed mill operations and was sold; it has been used for warehouse storage space since, and is currently for sale. The building is still a major feature of the city.

Near the end of the 19th century, many began to feel that the name Harmony Grove was too long to write and sounded too much like a country village. In addition, many didn't like the fact that mail frequently went to another post office by the same name in Dawson County. Harmony Grove was reincorporated and renamed "Commerce" on August 6, 1904, in an effort to address these concerns and reflect the city's commercial dominance in the north Georgia cotton trade.

In 1959, a series of controversial town hall meetings were held to try to convince members of the federal Interstate Highway System to re-route the proposed Interstate 85, originally planned to go through Gainesville (Hall County), through Commerce and Lavonia (Franklin County). The proposal was changed, and the interstate was routed through Jackson County. Even more so than the railroad nearly a century before, this major transportation artery brought tremendous commercial advantage to Commerce, at a time it desperately needed it.


Commerce is located at 34°12′23″N 83°27′40″W / 34.20639°N 83.46111°W / 34.20639; -83.46111 (34.206520, -83.461203).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.3 square miles (21 km2), of which, 8.3 square miles (21 km2) of it is land and 0.12% is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 611
1900 1,454 138.0%
1910 2,238 53.9%
1920 2,459 9.9%
1930 3,002 22.1%
1940 3,294 9.7%
1950 3,351 1.7%
1960 3,551 6.0%
1970 3,702 4.3%
1980 4,092 10.5%
1990 4,108 0.4%
2000 5,292 28.8%
2010 6,544 23.7%
2020 7,387 12.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Commerce racial composition
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 5,311 71.9%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 886 11.99%
Native American 12 0.16%
Asian 129 1.75%
Pacific Islander 1 0.01%
Other/Mixed 284 3.84%
Hispanic or Latino 764 10.34%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 7,387 people, 2,547 households, and 1,824 families residing in the city.


Commerce City School District

The Commerce City School District holds pre-school to grade twelve, and consists of two elementary schools (the primary school includes a pre-school program), a middle school and a high school. As of August 2010, district has 89 full-time teachers and over 1,358 students.

  • Commerce Primary School (pre-K through 2nd grade)
  • Commerce Elementary School (3rd and 4th grades)
  • Commerce Middle School (5th thru 8th)
  • Commerce High School (9th thru 12th)

Jackson County School District

The Jackson County School District holds pre-school to grade twelve, and consists of six elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, and one charter school. As of December 2020, the district has a total of 8,611 students.

  • East Jackson Elementary School
  • Gum Springs Elementary School
  • Maysville Elementary School
  • North Jackson Elementary School
  • South Jackson Elementary School
  • West Jackson Elementary School
  • East Jackson Middle School
  • West Jackson Middle School
  • East Jackson Comprehensive High School
  • Jackson County Comprehensive High School
  • EMPOWER College and Career Center (Charter School)

Notable people

  • Terry Allen, former football running back in the National Football League; born in Commerce
  • Bill Anderson, country music singer, songwriter and television personality, famous for "City Lights" written in Commerce; raised in Commerce
  • Chris Beck, Major League Baseball pitcher for the Chicago White Sox
  • Mike Bowers, former Attorney General of Georgia; born in Commerce
  • Olive Ann Burns, award-winning author of Cold Sassy Tree, a novel loosely based on her experiences growing up in Commerce
  • Spud Chandler, right-handed starting pitcher in major league baseball who played his entire career for the New York Yankees from 1937 through 1947; born in Commerce
  • Lamartine G. Hardman, served two terms as the 65th governor of the state of Georgia from 1927 to 1931; born in Commerce
  • Clay Hendrix, current head football coach at Furman University
  • Mary Hood, award-winning writer of predominantly Southern literature

See also

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