Sarah Rector was born on March 3, 1902, in Indian Territory now Taft, Oklahoma, U.S. She was an African American member of the Muscogee Nation, best known for being the ‘Richest Colored Girl in the world’.
Who Was Sarah Rector?
Rector became the wealthiest black girl in the nation at the age of 11. This gave her international attention, especially when The Kansas City Star publicized it in 1913. Since then, her life has been filled with a lot of public speculation and financial maneuvering.
Her Early Life
Sarah Rector was born on March 3, 1902, to Joseph and Rose Rector in a two-room cabin near Twine, located on a Muscogee Creek Indian portion of land in Oklahoma. She had five siblings and they all went to school in Taft, an all-black town closer than Twine.
Her parents were both descendants of African people enslaved and owned by the Muscogee Creek Nation Creek Indians before the Civil War. They were therefore listed as freedmen on the Dawes Rolls, which later gave them an entitlement to portions of land signed under the Treaty of 1866.
The portion of lands granted to former slaves was usually made of rocks with poor agricultural quality. Sarah’s allotment became a burden and her father met the Muskogee County Court for a formal request to sell the land. His request was denied due to some restrictions on the land, so he continued paying the taxes.
Her Oil Deals and Wealth
Rector was only 13 years of age and could not legally manage her estate. She was given a guardian, a white man named T.J. who was appointed by a probate judge.
He managed all of Sarah’s financial matters. In fact, his guardianship towards her worked quite well to her advantage. Rector’s property was operated by a wealthy oilman, B.B. Jones.
Sun-News reported that the 1915 production was at approximately 160,000 barrels of crude oil per month. Her share was worth 20,000 barrels a month, where a barrel cost 90 cents.
This amounted to a sum of $18,000 per month, or a daily income that equals around $600. At that time, this amount of money was seen to be unbelievably huge. A lot of Americans could receive that amount as their salary, per year.
The news of Rector’s wealth spread like a wildfire across the world. She even began to receive loan petitions, money gifts, and even marriage proposals at a very young age.
On hearing about her wealth, the Oklahoma Legislature made a tireless effort to declare her white. This allowed Rector to reap the benefits of her increased social grounds, which includes riding in an exotic first-class car around the city.
In 1914, The Chicago Defender, an African American newspaper, published an article that claimed Rector’s estate was being mismanaged by her family.
They also stated that she was uneducated with a poor quality of life. On reading and hearing this news, National African American leaders Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois became concerned about her wellbeing.
Washington also came in to assist the Rector family. In October of that same year, she was enrolled in the Children’s School, a boarding school at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. This school was headed by Washington and upon her graduation, she attended the Institute.
Her Personal Life
In 1922, she married Kenneth Campbell, who was the second African American to own an auto dealership. The couple gave birth to three sons, Kenneth, Jr., Leonard, and Clarence.
They were known as royalty in their city, always driving expensive cars and entertaining celebrities like Duke Ellington and Count Basie at their home. Rector and her husband divorced in 1930 and she remarried William Crawford in 1934.
Her Later Life
Sarah Rector lived a very comfortable and wealthy life. She was exposed to beautiful things that include lavishing cars and clothing.
On July 22, 1967, at the age of 65, Rector died. Soon after, her wealth gradually disappeared, but she still had a few real estate holdings and active oil wells. Her remains were buried in Blackjack Cemetery in Taft, Oklahoma.