Emma Mead

Emma Mead

Courtesy of Indian Lake Museum

          Emma Camp (1866-1934) was the daughter of Elijah and Elizabeth Camp and lived in the early village of Indian Lake. She was a descendant of Sabael, one of the first settlers in the Indian Lake area. Sabael was a Penobscot Indian from Maine who joined an Abenaki tribe. 

          As a teenager, Emma cooked and cleaned at the family camp, “Hunter’s Home.” It was there that she met Gabriel Mead and the two soon married. When the Mead family found out their son had married an Indian, they carried him away to an insane asylum. The family offered Emma a $10,000 settlement for an annulment. Emma ultimately agreed because she could see no other choice.

          Emma bought a store in the village of Indian Lake. She was an astute businesswoman and her venture prospered. Even so, she suffered much grief because no one could make her believe that Gabriel didn’t want her.

          After two and a half years, Gabriel returned. He explained to Emma that he had been taken away against his will. They remarried and a daughter, Bessie, was born July 15, 1886. Gabriel was not there for the birth; he had gone to see his family about overdue money. He never returned.

          Tragedy struck again when Bessie was 3. One warm February day, she crawled out on the second-story porch and fell to her death. 

          Emma continued the tradition of her father and grandfather, making her living from sportsmen who came to the mountains seeking fish and game. She built a guest home at the top of Christian Hill on the road between Indian Lake and Speculator, near Sabael. She named the place Adirondack House and wrote about it: 

From this commencing point there is one of the finest views of nature’s great panorama of mountain scenery to be found in the world famous Adirondack region. The climate is invigorating and bracing...You can loaf, if you wish, but the chances are that your time will be pretty well taken up with boating, fishing, swimming and tramping. As for clothing---sweaters, flannels, shirts, soft hats, heavy shoes, rubber boots and leggins are all good. It is a fine place to wear out old clothes.

          In 1934, at the age of 68, Emma died and was buried in the Indian Lake cemetery, next to Bessie. Despite the loss of her husband and daughter, this woman persevered and cared for her family and contributed to her community until the end of her days.

Emma Mead

Emma at Adirondack House, courtesy of Indian Lake Museum

Emma Mead