The events leading up to the incorporation of the city of Commerce can be traced to the 1853 establishment of Josiah H. Jackson's general store about one and one-half miles northeast of this site. The village that developed around his store was known as Cow Hill, and it grew to be an active trading center.
In 1870 a new bridge was constructed over the South Sulphur River, and traffic was diverted away from Cow Hill. Two years later, William Jernigin, a Cow Hill businessman, moved his mercantile store to a site closer to the Sulphur Springs-Bonham Highway. The crossroads near Jernigin's store became a major commercial center, and during the 1870s, the name Commerce was given to the village that grew up here.
On Sept. 12, 1885, an election for incorporation was held, and the village residents voted in favor of the proposal. Incorporation of the city of Commerce was granted on Sept. 25th by Hunt County Judge J. S. Sherrill. Sherrill appointed W. W. Rutland as mayor, and he served until Capt. W. E. Mangum was chosen for that position in the first city election. The mayor was assisted in the city government by four aldermen. Following its incorporation, the city continued its activities as a strong Hunt County commercial center.