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The Legend of Two-Egg Florida

By: Judy Hood May 17, 2006 edition of the Times

Local legend has it that over 100 years ago, ‘Two Egg’ was named by the first country store owner because the cost of a breakfast for a man was paid by giving two eggs as payment. This legend was handed down by E.K. (Bud) Hamilton who was the crossroad’s oldest historian until somewhere in the late ‘60’s early ‘70’s.

Two Egg is famous for its crisscrossing the panhandle from Dothan, Alabama to U.S. Highway 90 but there is no Post Office and therefore, you can not mail a letter post-marked ‘Two Egg, Florida’. “Money was about as scarce as hen’s teeth in TWO EGG” (An authority tells it like it was. By John Bevis).

Another story passed down through generations of the Bevis family ‘Two Egg’ was originally called ‘Allison School Community’. ‘Two Egg’ is believed to have been settled around 1860.  Thomas R. Bevis built the first general store there in 1875 following his attempt to become another southern cotton king; this did not work out as well as he expected.

“Money was about as scarce as a hen’s teeth’ back in those days, so folks used the bartering system as a means of payment or method of exchange. Three dozen eggs were retailed at a quarter however, hard money (coins and bills) were worth more than eggs. Two eggs could buy a barberpole style candy, ten eggs would buy you lunch or was equal to five cents.

Around 1905, a farmer by the name of Will Williams raised a family in what was called a “Shotgun” house. This “shotgun’ house had three small bedrooms, was built end to end with a front and back door and where when both doors were opened, one could shoot a shotgun through the house and never hit a thing. Mr. Williams was a poor man and was only able to give his children a hen when they were six years of age. Therefore, whatever eggs these hens laid, the children were able to use the eggs as spending money at the local country store. Every cent or two eggs could buy anything from candy to sundry items. Over the years the country stores included Bevis, Hamilton, Allen and Neal family owners. It should be noted; Mr. Williams sired 57 children with 11 wives until he died in the mid-fifties.

Wholesale grocery salesmen often saw the Williams children in the country stores buying things with their eggs and would often comment “this crossroad won’t never be nothin’ but a two egg
town” and the name stuck.

Two Egg is not on any official state road maps nor is it recognized by the Florida State Road Department since there is no post office. This version of the naming of ‘Two Egg’ came from a fourth generation ‘Two Egger’.

Information about ‘Two Egg’ and the above versions was obtained from a story written back on Friday, May 5, 1972, p. 15 of the ‘Tallahassee Democrat’ and a story written in the ‘All Florida Magazine’, date unknown, by John Bevis.

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Uncle Jacks Water Driven Grist Mill

By:  Chuck Hatcher May 3, 2006 edition of the Times

Uncle Jack's Waterdriven Grist Mill, one of the oldest known working water-driven grist mills in the Southeast is located in Jackson County on Mill Road. Just two mile west of Highway 231 and 2 miles south of Alford, this historical treasure is named for its restorer, Jack Sexton, better known as "Uncle Jack".

Currently owned and operated by J.W. and Sue Dilmore, Uncle Jack's Water-driven Grist Mill was built originally by Alex Kent. According to Mr. Dilmore, the mill became fully operational in 1884 and was operated by Mr. Kent until the 1920s. At that time, the mill was purchased by Jack Sexton, Sue Dilmore's father. According to Sue, her father ground mill, farmed and had a cattle operation.

Sue Dilmore recalls that as a small girl, shucking corn, the first step in the milling process was a part of her daily chores. "Daddy would leave me corn to shuck and I better have it done when he got back." While talking, Sue pointed out the "Sears & Roebuck corn shucker" she used to help complete this chore. Not really from Sears, this was actually a board approximately four feet long with a nail in the far end used to split the suck of the corn. Though old and worn, this same board is still in use today.

The second step in the process was to shell the corn. J. W. demonstrated how the corn sheller, located in the mill house worked. "You would drop the ears in the top and then turn the handle. The corn would separate from the cobb and drop to the bottom. The cobb and husks would come out the front." According to J.W., the sheller still operates like new.

After these steps, the corn was then sifted and readied for the grist mill. The grist mill was driven by water released from the mill pond. Adjustments by the operator would change the space between the grist stones changing the type of meal produced. This was easily done by turning a wheel and feeling the meal as it came out of the grist stones. Sue demonstrated how her Dad would walk up the steps of the mill to where the operator stood. Pausing at the top of the steps, she showed how he would shuffle his feet to get the meal dust from the bottom of his shoes. Occasionally, while the corn was grinding, Uncle Jack would relax with a sip of corn whiskey on his "lazy bench".

The craftsmanship of the mill itself is quite unique. The turbine of the mill itself included bearings made of lighter knot wood. Also, the bushings of the turbine were made of corn cobbs. The two grinding stones themselves were made from granite believed to have come from nearby Georgia, but possibly from as far away as England, which was then transported up the Choctawhatchee River to Vernon. Each stone was 36 inches in diameter. The stationary bottom stone was called the bedrock, while the top stone called the runner, rotated. This stone had
grooves carved into it which allowed the meal to filter into a sifting box where Uncle Jack tested the texture. There is also a floor underneath the water flow. J.W. mentioned how he had replaced this floor with the help of a fabricated bolt which allowed him to drive nails through the water, which had prevented him from hitting the nails. When questioned about leaks, J.W. said, "no problem." His solution included putting wet sawdust in the water where any leak occurs. The flow of the water pulls the wet sawdust into the crack, effectively stopping the leak.

Restoration of the mill by J.W. and Sue began in 1975. J.W. spoke of how he would work on the mill and how his father-in-law Jack, then in his 90s would tell him how to do certain things. With hard work, J.W., his family and friends have been able to return the mill to a fully operational status.

Both J.W. and Sue are retired and stay busy with antique refurbishing and collecting. They are also proud to continue to produce corn meal "the way it used to be done."

Tours of Uncle Jack's Water - driven Grist Mill are available by appointment only.

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