Black excellence

Meet Sarah Rector: The world’s richest 10-year-old black girl in the 1900s



IF YOU search her name, Sarah Rector is often described as the “richest coloured girl in the world” or the “millionaire girl a member of the race”.

She was 10 years old when she became one of the richest African Americans in the early 1900s.

Sarah’s parents were African descendants of the Creek Nation Creek Indians before the Civil warand was part of the family Creek Nation after the The Treaty of 1866.

As such, they and their descendants were listed as freedmen on the Dawes Rolls, by which they were entitled to land allotments under the Treaty of 1866 made by the United States with the Five Civilized Tribes.

Consequently, nearly 600 black children, or Creek Freedmen minors as they were called, inherited 160 acres of land each.

The parcel allotted to Sarah Rector was located in Glenpool, 60 miles from where she and her family lived. It was typically considered inferior infertile soil, not suitable for farming, with better land being reserved for white settlers and members of the tribe.

The family lived simply but not in poverty, yet the $30 annual property tax on Sarah’s parcel was such a burden that her father petitioned the Muskogee CountyCourt to sell the land. He was denied.

To help cover this expense, in February 1911, Joseph Rector leased Sarah’s parcel to the Standard Oil Company.

In 1913, the independent oil driller B.B. Jones drilled a well on the property which produced a “gusher” that began to bring in 2,500 barrels of oil a day. Rector began to receive a daily income of $300 from this strike.

“Oil Made Pickaninny Rich – Oklahoma Girl With $15,000 A Month Gets Many Proposals – Four White Men in Germany Want to Marry the Negro Child That They Might Share Her Fortune.”

This headline, which appeared in The Kansas City Star on January 15, 1914, was just the first of many newspaper and magazine headlines during the next decade about Sarah.

Sarah was already a millionaire by the time she had turned 18. She owned stocks and bonds, a boarding house, a bakery and restaurant in Muskogee, Oklahoma, as well as 2,000 acres of prime river bottomland.

At that point, she left Tuskegee and, with her entire family, moved to Kansas City, Missouri. She purchased a house on 12th Street there still known as the Rector House. She soon married a local man, Kenneth Campbell.

She lived a comfortable life and was later remembered for sending her chauffeur to drive the children of the neighborhood to school.

In the depression she lost the majority of her wealth as did many wealthy Americans.

She died on July 22, 1967, at the age of 65.


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