She Had a Dark Connection to Creek Indians
Sarah Rector was born and raised on a Creek Indian plantation on March 3, 1902, in present-day Oklahoma. Her parents, Joseph and Rose Rector, were descendants of Africans who were enslaved by the Creek. A treaty signed between the U.S. and the Indians emancipated the enslaved people and they became known as “Creek Freedmen.”
Her Land Was Thought to be Worthless
In the agreement, Creek and their former slaves were allotted a plot of land. Rector and her family were each given rock-infested ground, which made farming difficult. It was originally thought to be completely worthless but later churned out 2,500 barrels of oil each day through Oklahoma’s Cushing-Drumright Field.
She Made a Fortune Before Her Teen Years
Rector went from earning pennies to making $15,000 a month. She was only 12 years old at that time. Her 160 acres of land were valued at $556.50. When the oil was discovered and extracted, Rector earned $300 per day. She eventually earned $3 million for her interests, becoming the first black female millionaire in Kansas City. That money allowed her to enroll at Tuskegee Institute.
White Men Wanted Her to Be White by Law
Once Rector’s identity was revealed, many people wanted her hand in marriage. That included four white men who lived in Germany. Other people asked her for help in the form of loans, money and gifts. White Americans were so upset that a young Black girl had wealth that they attempted to have Rector be considered white by law. The effort failed.
A White Man Was Her Guardian
Many other wealthy African-Americans had their wealth removed by white guardians. The newspapers of the 1920s provided coverage of the same schemes Rector faced as white men wanted to gain control of her estate. Once the young girl grew wealthy, a white man named T.J. Porter became her guardian due to a law that sought to control Black wealth.
She Was Wealthy From More Than Just Oil
By age 18, Rector was in charge of her own estate. She owned stocks and bonds, a boarding house and bakery, and the Busy Bee Café and Hotel in Muskogee, Oklahoma. She also owned 2,000 acres of prime river bottomland. She would later own a small farm outside of Kansas City, Missouri as well. Rector was now a millionaire.
She Bought a Mansion at Age 2o
The Rector family faced claims of mismanagement and living in bad conditions. But it was not all true. The family moved from a modern five-bedroom cottage in Oklahoma to Rector Mansion in Kansas City, Missouri in 1921. Rector paid $20,000 cash for a brick-and-stone mansion in the Black district at 12th and Euclid Avenue in the city.
The Teen Millionaire Lived Extravagantly
Rector married her first husband, Kenneth Campbell, at 18 when she earned an estimated $11 million. They had three sons – Kenneth Jr., Leonard and Clarence. The mother bought a limousine and hired a chauffeur to drop off her kids off at elementary school. She also owned Cadillacs and Lincolns that rested on her small farm. When stopped for speeding, Rector avoided tickets by asking, “Do you know who I am?” Rector also bought European gowns and jewelry.
She Hosted Legendary Stars
Rector hosted many celebrities of the 1900s at her mansion. Stars like Duke Ellington, Joe Lewis, Jack Johnson and Count Basie visited the young millionaire at her home. The wealthy Black female would throw lavish parties at the home, which still stands today. It is currently abandoned, but at one point after Rector’s death it was converted into a funeral home.
The Status of Her Estate at Her Death Was Unknown
The Black woman who achieved wealth as a girl died of a stroke on July 22, 1967. The state of her fortune was not known at the time of her passing at age 65. But her wealth had diminished beginning in the 1920s during the Great Depression. She also had lost earnings from gambling. Rector is buried in Black Jack Cemetery, in Taft, Oklahoma – where she was born.
source: atlantablackstar.com by