Commerce, Georgia One Place Study

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Commerce, Jackson, Georgia, United Statesmap
Surnames/tags: Commerce, Georgia One Place Studies
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This profile is part of the Commerce, Georgia One Place Study.
{{One Place Study|place=Commerce, Georgia|category=Commerce, Georgia One Place Study}}

Originally known as "Groaning Rock", the site of an early frontier fort. The Cherokee Indians held the surrounding rock formation as sacred. Groaning Rock was formally changed to "Harmony Grove" said to be so named after Eli Shankle's wife, Rebecca Hargrove. The city was the crossroads of North Georgia Mountain towns and North Carolina to expanding cities of Athens, Washington and Augusta, Georgia.

, and was re-incorporated as Commerce, Georgia in 1904. Harmony Grove became the leading distribution center for Northeast Georgia specifically due to the position of the railroad track through it's downtown area.

Harmony Grove was the crossroads from the mountain counties of North Georgia and North Carolina to the markets of Athens, Washington, and Augusta. Farmers bringing stock and produce to market would stop and camp at Harmony Grove which had ample springs and a pleasant climate. Between 1810 and 1900 these people began trading in Harmony Grove for items such as plow goods, stoves, and household utensils as well as clothing, shoes and other necessities not available in the mountain regions.

Greetings from Commerce.

Today, Commerce, Georgia is considered one of 54 Main Street cities in Georgia.


Continent: North America
Country: United States of America
State: Georgia
County: Jackson
GPS Coordinates: 34.206389, -83.461111
Elevation: 279.0 m or 915.4 feet


Historic Shankle House.

1784: Area is established as Groaning Rock, one of the earliest white settlements in North Georgia. The site of an early frontier fort.

1808: First settlers, outside the fort, came to the area called Harmony Grove.

1810: The start of trade for items such as stoves, household goods, clothing, shoes, etc.

1818: Community of Harmony Grove was founded.

1824: Harmony Grove Female Academy was created. This was the first school for girls in the state of Georgia.

December 4, 1884: Officially incorporated as Harmony Grove. This included all areas within a one-mile radius of the railroad depot, one half mile east and 400 yards west. The first mayor was W.A. Quillian.

1875: The "Northest Georgia Progress", Harmony Grove's first newspaper was published. It was later renamed to "The Harmony Grove Echo."

1876: The first railroad came to Harmony Grove connecting to other rail lines within Georgia.

April 3, 1893: Harmony Grove Mills, Inc was organized under the lawas of Jackson County, Georgia. The mill village was created to house workers and some suppliers. Although the mill is closed as of 2004, it still stands in the southeast part of Commerce. (In 2021, The City Council agreed to grant New Grace church a permit to revitalize the old mill into a church and Christian school.)

August 6, 1904: Harmony Grove was reincorporated and changed to Commerce.

1917: The Commerce Overall Company was started. This company eventually merged with the National Overall Company becoming the largest overall manufacturing plant in the world.

1927: Dr. Lamartine Hardman, of Commerce, was elected Governor of the State of Georgia.

1992: The Cold Sassy Tree was published by Olive Ann Burns. The book is based on Harmony Grove.

The city began as a cotton market and became known as a textile community with the building of the Harmony Grove Mills. The town became known as Commerce due to Seaborn McKendree Shankle's (1825-1885) general mercantile store and the surrounding train lines. He wanted the town to sound prosperous and decided upon "Commerce."


Early Visiters, Settlers and Events

Native Americans

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


1890 Census

The population was 611

1900 Census

The population was 1,454

1910 Census

The population was 2,238

Rail Roads

The railroad came to Harmony Grove in 1876. The line was called the Northeaster. In the 1900's, the railroad brought tremendous growth to Commerce with supply and passenger trains. The tracks run directly through the Historic Downtown Commerce area where Seaborn Shankle had his General Store.
Rail service began for Jackson County in the 1870s with the construction of the Northeast Railroad through Commerce, Nicholson, and Center that lie between Athens, Georgia and the Atlanta-Charlotte, North Carolina. By 1883 the forerunner of the Gainesville Midland line was moving passengers and freight from Jefferson to Gainesville and then to Social Circle and Monroe. These steam-driven locomotives, and passenger services in the county were phased out by 1960.
The line is currently owned by Norfolk Southern and primarily used for supply transport.

Hotels, Resorts, Clubs, Restaurants, etc.

Commerce is currently widely known as stop from the travel on I-85 with over 10 hotels, dozens of restaurants and the Tanger Outlet Mall.




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Hi, Sandy!

Great study! I'm doing project maintenance and a check-in.

One Place Studies now has a Project Profile:

Please add it as a co-manager of this study page. wtoneplacestudies <at>

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Project Leader - One Place Studies

posted by Azure Robinson
Done :)

Hope this finds you and yours well.

posted by Sandy (Craig) Patak