She may have only been 11-years-old, but age didn’t mean a thing when Sarah Rector became the richest Black girl in America.
Rector was the daughter of freedmen in 1902 before ultimately earning the title of the wealthiest Black girl in the nation, according to Black Enterprise.
She and her family were African American members of the Muscogee Creek Nation and lived in a modest cabin in the mainly Black town of Taft, Oklahoma.
At the time, the area was considered Indian Territory and because Rector’s parents were formerly enslaved by Creek Tribe members, they were entitled to land under the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887.
The result of this led to hundreds of Black children known as “Creek Freedmen minors,” being granted 160 acres of land due to the Indian Territory’s integration with Oklahoma Territory which created the State of Oklahoma in 1907.
Most of the land that was granted to former slaves was rocky and infertile but not for Rector whose allotment was sitting on a literal oil well.
Her land was located in the middle of the Glenn Pool oil field with an initial value of $556.50.
In order to pay the $30 annual property tax, Rector’s father leased her land to a major oil company in February 1911.
Two years later, Rector’s price went up when the independent oil driller B.B. Jones produced “gusher” on her land that ultimately brought in 2,500 barrels or 105,000 gallons a day.
Tonya Bolden, the author of “Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America,” reveals that Rector was earning more than $300 a day in 1913. Today that equals $7,000-$8,000. Rector even earned $11,567 in October 1913.
As quickly as she acquired wealth, Rector also became a household name. In September 1913, The Kansas City Star local newspaper featured her in the paper with the headline, “Millions to Negro Girl- Sarah Rector, 10-Year Old, Has Income of $300 A Day From Oil.”
With headlines all over, Rector’s rise to fame became widespread which led to multiple requests for loans, money gifts, and even four marriage proposals.
Today, Rector would’ve been worth an estimated $11 million when her net worth hit $1 million at the age of 18.
She would also go on to own a bakery, a boarding house, stocks, and bonds as well as a restaurant in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and also owned about 2,000 acres of land.
Eventually, she would leave Tuskegee with her family for Kansas City, Missouri, where the grand home that she purchased still stands today.
There, she married Kenneth Campbell, the second Black man to own an auto dealership, and together they had three sons. Rector’s little family became recognized as local royalty and drove expensive cars to match.
They were also known to entertain famous names like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Joe Louis at their home.
Ultimately, Rector lost most of her wealth during The Great Depression and when she died at 65-years-old in July 1967, she only had a few working oil wells and real estate holdings.