Yes, Virginia, there is a real Mayberry… and it is in Virginia
Ever wonder how the TV town of Mayberry got its name? Look a bit north, and into Andy Griffith's roots.
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On Thanksgiving Day in 2003, Larry King gave families a truly satisfying feast — a reunion of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts. The old pals reunited on the chat show for a walk down memory lane. The conversation, naturally, covered their time together on The Andy Griffith Show, playing Sheriff Taylor and Deputy Fife in the fictional town of Mayberry.
"Did you come up with the name Mayberry?" King asked Andy.
"No, I didn't. I think a writer named Artie Stander came up with that," the star replied.
Now, perhaps Andy was being gracious or forgetful, but it seems unlikely that Artie Stander dreamt up the name "Mayberry." Because there is a real place called Mayberry — and it lies just up the road and over the border from the fictional Mayberry. And there is proof that the Griffith family was more than familiar with the place.
As fans know, the quaint fantasy hamlet of Mayberry was inspired by Andy Griffith's hometown, Mount Airy, North Carolina. It's where the annual "Mayberry Days" festival is held, and the city prides itself on its place in television history. Mount Airy lies just south of the Virginia border, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
If you were to hop in a car in Mount Airy and head up the Blue Ridge Parkway, you cross over into Virginia in a matter of minutes, and half an hour later, you would arrive at the real Mayberry.
Now, there is no dot on a map for this Mayberry, but the Mayberry Trading Post lies on Mayberry Church Road, walking distance from Mayberry Creek and Mayberry Presbyterian Church. The post office officially lists these landmarks as Meadows of Dan, Virginia.
However, decades ago, more than a century ago, the Mayberry Trading Post served at the post office for the Mayberry Creek community. At the rear of the white wooden structure — which proudly declares "Built 1892" in a hand-painted sign on its front —mail slots still remain, remnants of its early life.
Today, tourist and travelers can pop in and purchase apple butter (cooked on-site) and folksy crafts. As a one-time trading post around the turn of the century, this establishment kept books, logging the names of locals who did business there. And two of those names in the records are Andy Griffith's grandparents.
"His grandparents who lived on top of the mountain traded here at the turn of the century because their names are on the books," Mayberry Trading Post owner Peggy Barkley told WGHP Fox 8 in 2018. Betty Lynn, the actress who played Barney's gal, Thelma Lou, on The Andy Griffith Show and one of the few surviving cast members made a sojourn to the Trading Post to see for herself.
"She wanted to see it with her own eyes so she came up here to see it," Barkley proudly declared.
Andy's mother, Geneva Griffith (neé Nunn), was born there in Patrick County, Virginia. She is buried nearby in Meadowfield, Virginia.
So, considering Andy's mom was born and buried just over yonder, and his grandparents did business at the Mayberry Trading Post, it stands to reason Andy had the name in his mind. It's only twenty-some miles from Mount Airy.
That's why — no offense to Artie Stander, who did pen a handful of brilliant episodes such as "Stranger in Town" — we have to believe the "Mayberry" name came from the brain of Andy Griffith.
Mayberry Trading Post image: Nancy W. Boyer via Wikimedia Commons