If your boss tells you she’s off to a meeting in Jacksonville, no one blinks an eye. A cousin heading to Key West? Maybe a bit of envy and best wishes for a pleasant suntan. But when someone says they’re off to Two Egg, Florida, there’s bound to be a either a giggle or a look of pure confusion.
The bustling metropolis of Two Egg is located a few miles northeast of Marianna in Jackson County. Although it’s little more than a wide spot on a curve of State Road 69, it was a prominent crossroads in the region as early as the 18th century. Europeans and native Creeks established trails in the area heading to Neal’s Landing and Thomas Perryman’s trading post on the east bank of the Chattahoochee River. The route between Perryman’s in the east and the natural bridge over the Chipola River in the west crossed right through what we now know as Two Egg. Although the road has been slightly reshaped and much improved over the past 200 years, it still follows roughly the same path.
How the crossroads got its peculiar name is something of a debate among local historians. The area was settled shortly before the Civil War by the Michaux and Knowles families, and by 1898 it had a name, but it wasn’t Two Egg. Federal records show that when locals applied for a post office, they requested the name “Allison,” likely in honor of the family that established a sawmill and general store in the area around that time. The new office lasted only about a year, however, before it closed and the mail was transferred to nearby Dellwood.
The name “Two Egg” began appearing during the 1930s, some say as a result of a cultural phenomenon brought on by the hardships of the Great Depression. With jobs and cash hard to come by, local citizens had very little money to buy the goods they needed from the general store. As a result, they turned to the barter system, trading in a few vegetables or other farm products for whatever they needed to make it through the week. According to one legend, a local man named Will Williams decided that since he couldn’t afford to give each of his 16 children an allowance, he would instead give them each a chicken. Whenever one of the chickens laid eggs, the child who owned it could trade the eggs at the store for whatever they pleased. According to the story, a traveling salesman witnessed one of the children trading two eggs for some candy and decided to nickname the town accordingly. Other versions have one of the children or even the store owner commenting that the place would never be “more than a two-egg town.” At least a dozen different theories exist, but the majority seem to agree on the common thread of bartering with eggs. Whatever the true origin of the name may be, by 1940 it was in use on official state road department maps.
A combination of New Deal relief programs and the arrival of World War II breathed new economic life into the families living around Two Egg. Perhaps just as importantly, as more people began traveling to Florida in the postwar era, curiosity about the strangely named town led an increasing number of visitors to pass through for a quick stop at the general store. John Henry Pittman’s store was the main place to shop for a number of years, although it eventually closed, leaving the Lawrence Grocery as the sole business in town. As late as the early 2000s, the Lawrence store remained open, selling candy, cigarettes, cold drinks out of a machine, and Two Egg souvenirs.
The Lawrence Grocery eventually closed, and the Pittman store was condemned and destroyed in 2010. The town, if it could be called that, serves more as a bedroom community for Marianna nowadays, but signs on State Road 69 still proudly mark the location of Two Egg. When the signs aren’t being stolen, that is. Locals say the signs for Two Egg are stolen more than any other place name markers in the state. Even bolting the signs to their posts hasn’t stopped the problem; the thieves simply cut the signpost off at the bottom when they cannot remove the sign itself. In a way it’s a sort of backhanded compliment to the uniqueness of this small Florida curiosity. We at Florida Memory, however, would encourage visitors to leave the signs alone and just take a picture or two.
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