Sunday, October 2, 2022

Sarah Rector: At the Age of 11 She Became America’s Richest Black Girl in 1913

Sarah Rector

*Whoa. Talk about Black Girl Magic! At age 11, Sarah Rector, the daughter of freedmen in 1902, reportedly become the wealthiest black girl in the nation.

Here’s more from Black Enterprise: Following the Civil War, Rector’s parents, who were formerly enslaved by Creek Tribe members, were entitled to land allotments under the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887. As a result, hundreds of black children, or “Creek Freedmen minors,” were each granted 160 acres of land as Indian Territory integrated with Oklahoma Territory to form the State of Oklahoma in 1907. 

While lands granted to former slaves were usually rocky and infertile, Rector’s allotment from the Creek Indian Nation was located in the middle of the Glenn Pool oil field and was initially valued at $556.50. Strapped for cash, Rector’s father leased his daughter’s parcel to a major oil company in February 1911 to help him pay the $30 annual property tax. Two years later, Rector’s fortune took a major turn when independent oil driller B.B. Jones produced a “gusher” on her land that brought in 2,500 barrels or 105,000 gallons per day.

Rector would go on to make history as a young Black American girl earning hundreds of dollars daily in 1913. In October of that same year, she reportedly generated $11,567. 

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Rector’s notoriety reached global status. Her wealth was often written about in numerous newspapers. Her fortune prompted endless requests for loans, money gifts, and several marriage proposals from white men. 

At the time, a law required the child’s guardianship to be switched from her parents to a white man named T.J. Porter. Per the report, NAACP leaders fought to protect her fortune.

According to a report from BlackPast.org: In 1914 the Chicago Defender published an article claiming 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. None of the allegations were true. Rector and her siblings went to school in Taft, an all-black town closer than Twine. They lived in a modern five-room cottage, and they owned an automobile. That same year, Rector enrolled in the children’s house, a boarding school for teenagers at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

By the time she turned 18, Rector was worth an estimated $1 million, or about $11 million today, per the report. 

In 1922, she married Kenneth Campbell, who owned an auto dealership, and they had three sons. They divorced in 1930 and Rector remarried in 1934.

Rector reportedly lost most of her wealth during The Great Depression. She died at age 65 on July 22, 1967. 

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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