Genius is found in the most unusual places. Albert Einstein began as a patent clerk. Bill Gates was a congressional page. Madonna worked at Dunkin’ Donuts. And Stephen Foster, one of the great American songwriters, was 20 years old and working as a bookkeeper when he first scribbled the quirky lines of this American classic.
“Oh Susannah” was one of only two tunes Foster wrote while gainfully employed. The song earned him a total of $100, enough to quit his desk job and continue writing. His publishers, on the other hand, made a small fortune – over $10,000. Others went on to seek their fortune and the song became associated with the California Gold Rush of 1849 as the forty-niners accepted a parodied version as their unofficial anthem.