The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Half A Hundred Springs Of Mayberry

Y.O.C. © 1984

Issue: February, 1984

Editors Note: This accounting was written by a person who witnessed the birth of our century, whose hand once held a dipper or a curled leaf at every one of these springs. Through eyes that watched the community dwindle away, we are shown why Mayberry once prospered. Its water is a valuable resource even today, but in days gone by, it was a necessity.

We are most thankful for being granted permission to print this insight into our past. The fact that it was written many years ago only exhibits the timeless beauty of nature. Each of these springs could provide you with a cool clear drink of water at this very moment. Mayberry Creek and each of its springs still flow.

The half a hundred springs of Mayberry are all clear free stone waters. Several of these springs have been used before the white settlers came. The large Tyra Barnard Springs have been in use for about one hundred and fifty years by the Barnard family and their descendants. This spring is one of the headwaters of the south fork of Mayberry Creek.

The largest spring on the creek, Conner Spring, was used by the Conner family years ago and named in their honor. It now furnishes water for two families, Dorn Spangler and Allen Spangler and could supply a village with water.

The Epperson Double Spring heads the Epperson Spring Branch. One of these springs furnished water for the S.P. Scott Tannery for more than half a century, being piped through mortised, hollow chestnut logs about 900 feet or more. This Tannery was one of Mayberry’s best industries, furnishing the neighborhood with much needed leather for shoe making, as well as harness and saddle leather, in the last quarter of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century. It gradually went out as cars and tractors took over. It had a shoe and harness shop, but several other neighbors could and did make shoes. The tannery bought hides or would tan on shares or, for a fee, if a customer needed more leather. It also bought chestnut and oak bark from its neighbors which was a help at times. Some of the tools once used here are now on display at Mabry Mill on the Parkway, having been bought by the Park Service for this purpose before the death of the tannery owner and operator, S.P. Scott.

He also used these waters to make brick in his brick kilns. This also furnished work for a few people, but it was mostly a family undertaking. Mr. Scott was also a mason and carpenter, having drilled and mortised the logs that carried the waters of this spring. He was a man of many talents.

Perhaps the spring known to the most people of all was the T.D. Scott Spring also known as the Corner Spring. With its double spring houses, one for the home and one for the S.C. Scott Store (Mayberry Trading Post), with its giant oak and chestnut shade trees. One of the oaks still stands guard over the spring. This spring has been in continuous use for more than a hundred years and it has been visited by thousands of people. Memories of its cold waters have been carried to most of the states by folks immigrating from this neighborhood and surrounding territory.

We must not forget the Yeatts Family Spring with its U-formed rock walled in spring house and dry log watering troughs for the stock and clean clear branch where the chickens and hogs watered. It was the center of this farm’s activities. The spring and spring house, being shaded by a grove of maple and locust trees, kept milk, butter and leftovers in its water oak springbox, the coldest in the neighborhood (maybe the state). The large spring house was used at times to cure and smoke meats with hickory, since it had a gravel floor and was safe for a smoke fire. The spring house and grove have long been gone, save one maple that stood below the spring house. It once shaded the wash pots and tubs on wash days in summertime. Long may it stand. Taking the place where the spring house and grove once stood is the Blue Ridge Parkway. The spring is under the center of this road, encased in cement and still furnishes water by gravity through pipes to the Yeatts old home and also the C.C. Stanley home. Long may it run, with its pure, clean, cold water.

Also should be mentioned are the four full time springs of Kettle Hollow. They have furnished water for the many different families through the years, including C.T. Yeatts, before he and his family moved to Montana. It is now owned by J.H. Yeatts and furnishes water for his two houses and fish pond. It would be history to know the different families that have lived in these hollows over the past years.

Next, up the creek on the left, is the old North Spring. Never a house spring, but used by workers on three farms in the past, it being cold and on the corner of three farms.

Next up is Jehus Barnard’s Two Springs, in use for about three generations. Next, Indian Springs is now used by Gene Barnard by being pumped across the creek to his home. Next, the Guy Barnard Spring, the Charles Field Spring (not in use), then the already mentioned Tyra Barnard Spring being used now by Gene Barnard for his rented house and his dairy. Then we cross over to the Dalton House Springs not used since the house burned several years ago, but it was used for many years before. They are not the best, but fairly good. Next, over to the Coy Yeatts Spring, in use 40 or 50 years, on the Branch to Early Burnette Spring and another wild spring or two.

Then we drop back down to the George Keith or Hensley Spring, on down to the Richard Bowman Spring, long out of a house. Then over the hill to Etta Y. Childress Spring, now being used by B.M. Austin, back up the creek to Harrell Spring, long out of a house, but two or three really good springs. Then back down to the Daniel Pendleton Spring, now being used by the Chathams. Then over to the Harilson Spring and the Friel Childress Spring, and the O.A. Yeatts Spring (none in house use but now used for watering stock). Then, over to the Coleman Springs which were used by many families in the past, he being the last.

Then, the S.P. Scott House Spring, the Wolford Spangler Spring, the Richard and W.W. Spangler Spring, not in house use now but used many, many years. The Kent Terry Spring, still in use. The A.J. Webb Spring, used for many years but now for watering troughs. Then over to the F.H. Bowman Spring, the Cross Stanley Spring, and the S.M. Bowman Spring. All of these last springs are now out of use for houses. The last four are below the mills on Mayberry Creek. Also below the mills on the right is the Milton Shelor and T.W. Webb Springs, the Levi Barnard - Asa Spangler Spring, the Abe Barnard - Hefflefinger Spring (also known as the Kemper Family Spring), the Mill Spring, the Kay Light Spring, all the last flowing in the creek below the old mill site.

Another noted and large spring going in this creek after it merges with Round Meadow is the Boswell-Sanderfer Spring. It was probably in use long before most of the other springs. It was thought to have been used by the Mayberry’s that gave the creek its name, but now its not in use. All of these springs having homes near them formed the central Mayberry community, along with several “just over the hill” families whose children attended the old Mayberry School. They got their mail from the Mayberry Creek Post Office (later named the Mayberry Post Office, it was in use for a period of over 50 years, then merged with the Meadows of Dan Post Office after a few years of R.F.D. delivery).

All these spring make the beautiful mountain creek called Mayberry Creek, with its clear, cold water and beautiful mountain trout, a few can still be caught. For years Mayberry Creek was the dividing line between the Patrick County districts of Smith and Dan River until it was changed in the forming of the Blue Ridge District. It was also a dividing line between the lands of the Barnard family on the west and the Scott’s on the east. They were two of the largest and most prominent families and also two of the three or four earliest settlers in these parts. The Barnards, with their mills greatly helped the neighborhood economy. The Scotts, with their tannery, brickmaking and large country store also helped greatly.

The Barnards started Mayberry Creek Post Office. The Scotts later held it with their store its name was shortened to Mayberry. Many whole families have left here to settle in the western states. This started just after the Civil War and has continued until the population is about 1/5 what it was 75 years ago, by estimation.

This stream of water ran two good mills for years and years, including sawmills, grain mills, threshers and crushers. These mills served the Mayberry community and others who came from further away as one of these had double bolters and made the best buckwheat flour that could be made, also good wheat and rye flour.

The oldest of these mills was first known as the Charles Barnard Mill, built about the middle of the 19th century. Later it was called the Wolf Spangler Mill, as he ran it a long time. His father, W.W. Spangler, owned it before he did. This mill sawed a lot of the lumber used in buildings in the Mayberry section, including the lumber that built the old Mayberry Store, also the new one (Mayberry Trading Post) built in 1892. This mill first had a large millpond and later, a race furnished the water. I carried many sacks of corn to these mills. To this mill, if walking, as it was closer. To the other one if riding, as I got to ride farther. This mill, at its best, was run by an overshot wood wheel, later by turbine.

The largest and maybe the best mill on Mayberry was known as the Hefflefinger Mill. This also was an undertaking by the Charles Barnard family. The Barnard family son, sons-in-law, and grandsons being the builders and operators. At first this good mill was run by a race and later Abe and Levi Barnard built a large dam which improved its capacity. This mill had a set of Brushy Mountain corn rocks (which was known as the best) and this man, Hefflefinger knew how to keep them just right and just how everyone wanted their mill ground. This mill also had a set of what they called “French Burs” that was used on small grains and a very large double bolting chest, and could make the finest flour; wheat, rye and especially buckwheat. It was renowned throughout the countryside. It had a good threshing machine and did a lot of threshing. It also had a sawmill at one time. Now, at this time, there is hardly enough bread-corn and grain raised to have kept this mill running a week, if it was still there. These mills on Mayberry, the ones on Round Meadow, the ones on the Dan that ground the grain for the mountain people are long gone, save one on the Dan that is used as a show place. It makes buckwheat flour at times for sale.

The oldest mill in this part of the country was called the Johnson Mill, on Maple Swamp Creek, a fork of Round Meadow. This mill was destroyed about the middle of the last century during the War Between the States. I remember a Dr. Robertson who said he went to it when he was small boy.

There were several old mills on the Dan - the Gunter’s, the old Langhorne Mill, the Hensley Mill were some of the old ones on the mountain.

The folks do still eat bread around here, but they buy it in the loaf, already baked or canned biscuits from the store. Hardly any folks keep as much as a week’s supply on hand. I sometimes wonder what would happen if transportation ever breaks down or some other disaster.

Times have changed, but Mayberry Creek flows on. Old Mayberry Creek is not a lazy, meandering creek. From its fork to Round Meadow, it ripples along, straight and swift to where it jumps over the “cataracs” and on into the city of Danville’s power dam and helps turn the turbines to make electric power for that city.

In the last three or four generations this stream has had many, many swimming ponds, more than a hundred I guess. In summertime its bowls were alive with young folks learning to swim, cooling off and fishing. These were great weekends in summer. Of course, they were also used on other days as well. This has all changed now. The banks are silent, the voices gone, not a pond for twenty years almost, my boys being the last to have a pond that I know of. Good roads and cars have done their part here and also, there are not as many young people as used to be in these parts.