Category Archives: Patient Stories

Early Patients: Sam Bonnifield

Sam Bonnifield was a professional gambler and saloon owner who followed the gold from Dawson City to Fairbanks in the early 1900’s. Sam and his brother founded the First National Bank in Fairbanks, which shipped out $3 million in gold dust before the depression hit. Bonnifield, who was known as “Square Sam” because he treated people fairly, took the near failure of his bank very hard. He was despondent and suffered a “nervous breakdown”, kneeling in the snow in front of his bank crying, ”O God! Please show me the way out.”

In August 1910, the Fairbanks Daily News Miner noted that Sam Bonnifield arrived in town after walking the Valdez Trail. He spent a year recovering on the family farm in Kansas. The newspaper celebrated his return by saying, “No man ever lived in the North who has more real friends than has Sam Bonnifield, and the entire community will be glad to have him here once again.”

In October 1911, the Alaska Citizen ran the headline “Sam Bonnifield is Insane Once More.” Read More »

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