The 11-year-old who was the richest black girl in the world
Have you heard the amazing story of Sarah Rector?
She is the girl that was born to freed slaves in 1902 and climbed the financial ladder to become the wealthiest Black girl in America when she was only 11 years old.
Sarah lived with her family in Taft, a Black town in Oklahoma. Her family was a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation and was formerly enslaved by the Creek Tribe Members.
After the war, she and her parents got lands allotted to them through the Dawas Allotment Act of 1887.
However, in 1907, during the integration of the Indian Territories and the Oklahoma territory to form the State of Oklahoma, hundreds of Black children were given 160 acres of land in the Indian Territory.
Though the lands that were given to other Blacks were situated in infertile and rocky areas, Sarah Rector’s land was in the middle of the Glenn Pool oil field.
In the beginning, the land was worth $556.50.
In February 1911, her father needed cash, so he rented out his daughters’ piece of land to one of the major oil companies. The land came with a $30 yearly tax, and he had to raise money to pay it.
Two years after, an independent and well-to-do oil driller, B.B. Jones produced a “gusher” on Sarah’s land and the gates of riches were opened for the young girl and her family.
The gusher produced 2,500 barrels of crude oil per day, and that meant a payment of $300 per day to the young Rector. If the $300 is equated with today’s value for a dollar, it would be within the range of $7,000 – $8,000.
By October 1913, the barrels went up and she received $11,567.
Sarah Rector became very popular around the world and was famed as the richest black person alive. Her fame reached to the point that she had four German suitors asking to marry her. Of course, they did that because of her wealth.
Unfortunately, with all her wealth, she and her family were still not considered worthy to take care of their growing estate.
During that period, there was a law that mandated every Black and Indian with significant property to be placed under white guardians. In that process, Sarah Rector was taken away from her parents and given to a white man named T.J Porter to take care of her.
The idea of her having a white guardian troubled many Black activists who felt that the white people were after her wealth and that she could be in danger under Porter’s care.
Some of the Black activists who fought to protect little Rector were the leaders of the NAACP.
In 1914, the Chicago Defender published an article saying that her estate was being mismanaged by grafters and her “ignorant” parents and that she was uneducated, dressed in rags, and lived in an unsanitary shanty.
National African American leaders such as Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois became concerned about her welfare. Although none of the allegations were true because Rector and her siblings went to school in Taft, an all-black town closer than Twine and they lived in a modern five-room cottage. They also owned an automobile.
That same year, Rector enrolled in the Children’s House, a boarding school for teenagers at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
When Sarah Rector was 18, she was very rich and was worth $1million which is worth the equivalent of $11million as of today.
She had other investments which ranged from stocks and bonds to a boarding school, a bakery, restaurant, and a magnificent 2,000 acres of land.
The millionaire, alongside her family, moved to Kansas City, Missouri from Tuskegee. Her home in Kansas City still stands till date and is named the “Rector Mansion“.
She lived her life out in Kansas as a celebrity and royalty, after she married Kenneth Campbell. Campbell was the second Black man to own a car dealership and was very influential like she was.
The couple had three sons. Their romance and marriage took a bad turn and they divorced in 1930, leading Rector to remarry in 1934.
Just like every wealthy person who faces trying times in business, Rector lost a good chunk of her wealth and assets during the great depression in the United States. She died at the age of 65. At her death, she still had some oil wells and real estate holdings.