Andy Griffith confirmed that at first, Mayberry had a totally different name
The star also dispelled and confirmed myths from Mt. Airy.
Although the show bears his name, much of the conceptualizing of The Andy Griffith Show, of course, came from the series creators Sheldon Leonard and Aaron Ruben (and Danny Thomas helped!). Even so, after the show became a hit, it was natural for many fans to assume that the show came from Andy, and it didn't make it any less confusing that the show was set in North Carolina, which is where Griffith is from.
But in an interview with the Archive of American Television, Griffith cleared up all the confusion. You see, when he was brought on to do the show, Mayberry didn't have a name yet. All Leonard and Ruben knew was that they wanted the show to be set in the South.
It was Andy who suggested North Carolina, but his idea was rejected as the series creators attempted to come up with the right thing to call the TV world they were making. Griffith said, "At first, Sheldon didn’t want it to be in North Carolina. He just wanted it to be somewhere in the South." The series creators tossed around fake city names Griffith thought were awful. He said of the one they chose at first, "I hate these made-up names," then confirmed for a while, they were calling the town "Mt. Pilot." The actor immediately pointed out "There is a place called Pilot Mountain up near Mt. Airy."
That's right, for a short time, Andy Taylor was the sheriff of Mt. Pilot, not Mayberry. And the name change happened later on, after Griffith began sneakily setting the show in North Carolina by referencing cities like Raleigh and Asheville while in character, He pushed for the series to be rooted in North Carolina, and the town where Griffith's actually got roots - Mt. Airy - definitely took notice and eventually made the claim that Mayberry was based on Mt. Airy.
Griffith said in the interview he won't dispute fans that Mt. Airy is the real-life Mayberry. However, there is at least one barber he came across in that town that he said was telling a tall tale when he claimed he cut Andy's hair as a kid. "He’d have to be 115 years old," Andy said in the interview. He did confirm, though, that Snappy Lunch was a spot where he'd go for hot dogs as a tot, so there's a truth that every fan can hold onto that ties Mayberry to Mt. Airy, either way.