“Who is Sarah Rector?” is not an uncommon question within the community. Not a lot of people know about her, but she was the richest black girl at one point in history. By an unusual twist of fate, her family went from owning a seemingly worthless piece of land to earning a fortune from it. Read on to know more about the fascinating story that made Sarah Rector an icon in the African American community.
Sarah Rector | An African American Rags to Riches Story
In this article:
- Discovering Liquid Wealth
- The Rector Family Land
- From Pennies to Thousands
- The Effects of Wealth
- Allegations against the Rector Family
- Sarah Rector’s Marriages
Discovering Liquid Wealth
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She was 10 years old when she went from being a POOR NEGRO GIRL to becoming one of the RICHEST African Americans in the early 1900’s. Born and raised on a Creek Indian plantation, SARAH RECTOR came into MILLIONS after her leased Oklahoma land, thought to be worthless, was discovered to be flush with OIL and they began extracting 2500 barrels per day. She is the 2nd Black Female Millionaire, the 1st being Sarah Breedlove, a.k.a. Madame C.J. Walker. #BlackHistoryMonth #SarahRector #RectorMansion #BlackFemaleMillionaires #Wealth
Sarah Rector was born into a poor family in a Creek Indian plantation. She was 10 years old when she went from being a poor negro girl to one of the richest African Americans in the 1900s. She came into her millions after her leased land in Oklahoma, thought to be worthless, was discovered to be flush with oil, and they began extracting 2,500 barrels per day.
The Rector Family Land
So, here’s what happened. As a result of an agreement between the United States and an Indian territory, Creek Indians, Creeks and their former slaves were allotted a plot of land. Sarah and her family each received a portion of rock-infested land, which made it difficult to farm (almost close to impossible). But what was meant for her bad turned out to be good for her.
From Pennies to Thousands
After the income of Sarah Rector leaped from pennies to over $15,000 per month (considered a fortune in 1912) and her identity was revealed, the then 12-year-old girl was bombarded with everything, from loan requests to plain old handouts. Topping things off was the barrage of marriage proposals from white men even as far away as Germany.
The Effects of Wealth
Things got so out of hand that there were even efforts made to pass a law that would declare the brown-skinned millionaire white. The Chicago Defender reported, “the white people have become so alarmed at the enormous wealth of this young girl that they do not like such wealth belonging to a girl of Afro American blood.”
Allegations against the Rector Family
The family of Sarah Rector was vilified in the press as claims of mismanagement and poor living conditions were leveled against them. Despite the fact that she graduated high school and attended Tuskegee University, these allegations continued until she was twenty. However, by then, she and her family had moved to Kansas City, Missouri, and she purchased what would be known as the Sarah Rector Mansion.
Sarah Rector’s Marriages
Sarah married her first husband Kenneth Campbell around this time and had 3 sons. Along with certain “extravagances,” she was said to have purchased a limousine, hired a chauffeur and commissioned him to drive neighborhood children to a nearby elementary school.
While so many African Americans were swindled out of their land or money by the white “guardians” forced upon them, Sarah still managed to own a bakery, a boarding house, bonds, and stocks.
After her marriage to Kenneth Campbell ended in 1930, she married William Crawford in 1934. They are said to have owned a restaurant at which they entertained the likes of Duke Ellington and Count Basie.
Want to learn more about Sarah Rector’s story? Check out this video from Real Deal Entertainment:
Sarah Rector led a fascinating life and one that remains important to our history. Stories like hers deserve to be heard and talked about. By the time she passed in 1967, the status of her estate was uncertain, but Sarah Rector will forever be a proud part of our African American history.
BMWK family, have you ever heard of Sarah Rector? Who will you share this story with? Let us know in the comments section!
Editor’s Note: This article was first published on October 23, 2015. It has been updated for accuracy and relevancy.