Originally known as Cow Hill, Commerce was established in 1872 by merchant William Jernigan between the Middle and South Sulphur rivers on the rich, black gumbo prairie in northeast Hunt County. The town was incorporated in 1885, and nine years later Prof. William L. Mayo moved East Texas Normal College from Cooper to Commerce after the school burned. Mayo continued as president of the college, now known as Texas A&M University - Commerce, until his death in 1917, and is buried on the campus grounds.
Commerce was named the "Bois d'arc Capital of Texas" by the Texas Legislature because of its location in the geographic center of the indigenous range of the bois d'arc tree. The annual Bois d'Arc Bash paying homage to the lowly tree is usually held in late September.
Bed and breakfast accommodations are available in some of the historic structures within the city. The lovely, quaint square and downtown is lined with lampposts, benches, live oak trees and colorful plants, with antique brick streets completing the historic setting. Stop by Cow Hill Express where people gather for a cup of Cow Hill cappuccino. Quilters will enjoy the delightful quilt store, and Westside Barber Shop, established in 1886, offers a glimpse of barbering in the early days.