Mary Emily Lapham (1860-1936) was born in Northfield, Michigan, to Jared S. and Martha Gregory Lapham. She worked at her father's bank until sometime in the early 1890s. After her father's death, she traveled to Highlands, North Carolina, where she stayed for four years before purchasing fifteen acres of land on nearby Satulah Mountain. There she built her home which came to be named "Faraway."
While in Highlands, Lapham observed the lack of medical attention received by the local population, especially women. Lapham's observations finalized her decision to study medicine. She left North Carolina to attend Women's Medical College of Philadelphia, from which she graduated in 1901. She then traveled to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland for advanced study.
After returning from Europe, Lapham settled at "Faraway" with her friends Caroline Barker and Edith Bloomer Dougall, along with Edith's adopted daughter, Valerie Ashton-Dougall. The ladies were especially interested in music, particularly opera, and would often travel to Europe for operatic festivals.
In 1908, Dr. Lapham built Highlands Camp Sanatorium, a facility for the treatment of tuberculosis, where she specialized in pneumotherapy. The hospital operated for ten years before it burned in January of 1918.
In March 1918, Dr. Lapham set sail for France on a Red Cross Medical Mission. She was station in La Rochelle, France, were she set up a dispensary and hospital for refugees. When the dispensary closed after the conclusion of WWI, Dr. Lapham was reassigned to another Red Cross mission. From January through March 1919, she traveled through Brittany, France, giving mother/baby health clinics. In April, Dr. Lapham was appointed physician to the Red Cross's Czecho-Slovakian Commission, and was assigned to Prague, then Petrovatz. From August through September 1919, she assisted the Red Cross in taking five hundred refugee children into the Tatra Mountains for a health camp. Dr. Lapham returned to the United States in early February of 1920.
Little is known of what Dr. Lapham did after her return. Per information in her letters, she may have taken a job with the G.W. Carnrick Company in New York City. Mary Lapham died at her winter home in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1936, at the age of 75.