Did you know Mae Tipton Spurgeon? | KPD found her headstone without a grave

A KPD officer found the near-century-old, 100-plus pound stone sitting up along North Broadway in front of a business.
KPD found her headstone without a grave
Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 11:02 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 16, 2022 at 5:48 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - On Thursday, the Knoxville Police Department announced it had been holding on to a headstone since May. Apparently, a KPD officer found the near-century-old 100-plus pound stone sitting up along North Broadway in front of a business.

“The Property Management Unit has comprehensively researched through every avenue that they are aware of to identify where Mae Spurgeon was buried,” Scott Erland with the Knoxville Police Department told WVLT News.

“Unfortunately, based on the age of the tombstone, it has proven to be a difficult endeavor to nail down with any certainty where she was buried or to find any direct relatives,” Erland said. “That prompted us to share something online to see if anybody in the public can tell us where she was buried or possibly churn up a distant relative.”

WVLT News’ Gwendolyn Ducre went to the East Tennessee History Center to learn who the woman might be and where she could have been buried.

Danette Welch scoured through public records. According to a death certificate, a woman named Mae Tipton Spurgeon died in 1941 from cancer at 39 years old and was divorced without children.

She left behind a half-brother, W.C. Tipton, and several uncles.

Spurgeon was born Louis Tipton and Hazel Oliver. It is also suspected she owned and operated Mae’s Lunch Room, which is just a couple of miles away from where the marker was found.

“I’m concerned about her. I mean, she had her own business but it doesn’t look like she was very lucky in love or even life...considering she died so relatively young,” Welch said.

Erland said investigators suspect the marker is more like a footstone, and it appears someone would’ve had to dig it up from out of the ground.

It is also likely it traveled some 75 miles from Greeneville, Tennessee. As of Dec. 15, there was still no luck in confirming the headstone’s original home or if someone stole the stone.

WVLT News reached out to Hardins Chapel United Methodist Church, which is the suspected cemetery. Thursday night, someone from the church said there are traces of Spurgeon’s relatives buried in that cemetery and would look into whether there is a grave missing a headstone.