Old Movie Theater
Originally known as Cow Hill (because herds of cattle ranged along the ridge between the Middle and South Sulphur rivers), Commerce owes its beginning to J. H. “Si” Jackson who opened a store in 1864 just north of the current city limits. Jackson’s store, a few houses, and a post office established in 1870 attracted other settlers, and by 1872 a public school was opened. In 1873 William Jernigin and his sons built a store on his farm, which was near the present center of business. After 100 families were established here, Mr. Jernigin gave a section of his land to the community to build a town square. In 1874 the first Masonic Lodge was organized, and by 1875 the community could also boast a cotton gin, a flour mill and a blacksmith shop.
Incorporated on September 25, 1885, with a population of about 145, Commerce was governed by Mayor W. W. Rutland and four aldermen. A new school was built in 1884 at the site of the former A. L. Day Elementary School and about 100 pupils attended. The first jail was built in 1885; before this, prisoners were tied to a horse rack in the middle of town where they remained until someone paid their bond.