Commerce, Georgia

Commerce, Georgia
Commerce, Georgia
—  City  —
Location in Jackson County and the state of Georgia
Coordinates: 34°12′23″N 83°27′40″W / 34.20639°N 83.46111°W / 34.20639; -83.46111Coordinates: 34°12′23″N 83°27′40″W / 34.20639°N 83.46111°W / 34.20639; -83.46111
Country United States
State Georgia
County Jackson
 – Total 8.3 sq mi (21.5 km2)
 – Land 8.3 sq mi (21.5 km2)
 – Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 912 ft (278 m)
Population (2010)
 – Total 6,544
 – Density 637.6/sq mi (246.1/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 – Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 30529, 30599
Area code(s) 706
FIPS code 13-19112[1]
GNIS feature ID 0355254[2]

Commerce is a city in Jackson County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 6,544[3].



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)[4].

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.

Native American History

Before white settlers arrived, the area around present-day Commerce was inhabited by the Creek and Cherokee. Two Cherokee settlements in the area were Yamacutah (Cherokee word meaning "to tumble," referring to a feature of the local shoals), situated near a now-lost sacred Stonehenge-like mound site; and Yamtrahoochee (meaning "Hurricane Shoals"). For the most part, this territory was a dividing line between the Creeks, who resided mostly to the South, and the Cherokees, to the North.

The Lacoda Trail, which extended from present-day Athens-Clarke County to the north Georgia mountains, was a significant Cherokee 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.)

Around 1770, a complicated war between the Creeks and the Cherokee broke out in the area: in one sense, the war was to decide who had the rights to claim the territory between the Lacoda Trail and the Tishmaugu (now Mulberry) River, an issue exacerbated by English expansion from the East; in another sense, the battle was an extension of the conflicts between European settlement policy, the Creeks being loyal to the English and the Cherokees to the Spanish. According to local history, the battle began at Numerogo, north of present day Hurricane Shoals. The leader of the Creeks was Talitchlechee (other spellings: Talitcheliche, Taleache), who had fought against the Spanish alongside General Oglethorpe at St. Augustine. The battle was decided when Talitchlechee slew Amercides, the Cherokee king of noble Spanish birth. It is said that Amercides' wife, Elancydyne, rallied the retreating Cherokees by mounting her dead husband's white horse, and was herself killed in battle. The daughter of Amercides and Elancydyne was raised by the king's trusted brave, Umausauga, and later married a white settler named Johnson Josiah Strong; their marriage is said to be the first in the county.

Early White Settlement

The first permanent white settlement in Jackson County began near present-day Commerce on January 20, 1784, when the 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 (Georgia) 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, and it 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 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 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, Georgia. 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.[5]

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

Famous Citizens

  • Terry Allen - NFL running back, 1991–2001
  • Spud Chandler - MLB pitcher, 1937–1947
  • Lamartine G. Hardman - Georgia governor, 1927–1931
  • Bill Anderson - Country Singer/Songwriter. Famous for "City Lights" written in Commerce.
  • Mary Hood - fiction writer
  • Clayton Hendrix - Air Force Academy Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach (2006-pres)


  • Wilson, G.J.N. The Early History of Jackson County, Georgia. Atlanta, GA: Foote and Davies, 1914.
General history of the county, includes some details about the early history of the city; much in need of updated content and language/methodology.
  • Hardman, T.C. History of Harmony Grove-Commerce, Jackson County, Georgia, 1810-1849. Athens, GA: McGregor Co., 1949.
The definitive version of the city's history, also in need of update.
  • _____. Leaving Cold Sassy. New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1992.
These novels are set in the fictional city of Cold Sassy, based on early 20th century Harmony Grove/Commerce, Georgia. The first book became a made-for-TV movie in 1989, starring Faye Dunaway and Neil Patrick Harris, and an opera in 2000, composed by Carlisle Floyd. The sequel was unfinished due to the author's untimely death from cancer.
  • Buffington, Mike, ed. Our Time and Place. Jefferson, GA: MainStreet Newspapers, 2000.
Much more up to date general history of the county, includes some details about Commerce in the last half-century


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 5,292 people, 2,051 households, and 1,433 families residing in the city. The population density was 637.3 people per square mile (246.2/km²). There were 2,273 housing units at an average density of 273.7 per square mile (105.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.13% White, 14.74% African American (Black), 0.15% Native American, 0.49% Asian, 0.60% from other races, and 0.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.55% of the population.

There were 2,051 households out of which 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.0% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.1% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 85.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,897, and the median income for a family was $39,615. Males had a median income of $34,185 versus $22,028 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,270. About 10.2% of families and 12.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.5% of those under age 18 and 26.1% of those age 65 or over.

For the population of persons aged 25 and over, 65.0% are at least high school graduates or an equivalent. Of these, 7.4% have a bachelor's degree and 3.5% have a graduate degree. The remainder, 35% of the adult population, lacks a high school or equivalent diploma.


Commerce City School District

The Commerce City School District holds grades pre-school to grade twelve, that consists of two elementary schools (the primary school includes a pre-school program), a middle school and a high school.[6] The district has 89 full-time teachers and over 1,358 students.[7]

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


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. ^ Watson, Stephanie; Lisa Wojna (2008). Weird, Wacky, and Wild Georgia Trivia. Blue Bike Books. pp. 60. ISBN 978-1-897278-44-4. 
  6. ^ Georgia Board of Education, Retrieved June 5, 2010.
  7. ^ School Stats, Retrieved June 5, 2010.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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