Sarah Rector

How an young African American women on enslaved ancestry became a millionaire


Due to her wealth Sarah Rector had to register as white.

Sarah Rector was born March 3, 1902, to Joseph and Rose Rector in what is now known as Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Rector’s parents had “enslaved Creek ancestry” Due to Oklahoma’s statehood in 1907, the 1887 Dawes Allotment Act divided Creek lands in which Rector’s parents, herself, and her brother and sister all received land. Rector’s land was valued at “$556.50” and was also 160 acres nevertheless “lands granted to former slaves were usually the rocky lands of poorer agricultural quality.”

lands granted to former slaves were usually the rocky lands of poorer agricultural quality.”










Sarah Rector’s part of the land was leased in 1913 to the Devonian Oil Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1913 “wildcat oil driller B.B Jones produced a gusher that brought 2,500 barrels a day”, This increased her income to $300.oo per day.

Due to Rector’s increase in wealth, her parents changed her guardianship to a white man named T.J Porter. Rector’s name soon became public, and at the age of 11 years old, she made headlines across the country.

Due to Rector’s rise in popularity, rumors and more began to occur. For example, she was asked for loans, asked for marriage by four German men. Nevertheless Newspapers spread false information such as the Enid Oklahoma Events a white-owned newspaper that read “Consider Little Sarah Rector, Unkempt, Illiterate, 12-year-old child, Half Negro, Half Creek Indian,”. Another newspaper would be The Chicago Defender a black-owned newspaper that criticized her parents, calling her uneducated and dressed in rags the headline also read “Richest Colored Girl Forced to Live in Shack”. This concerned W.E.B DuBois and Booker T. Washington as they questioned the newspapers’ rumors and cared about her well-being. Rector was later sent to attend the Children’s House, a boarding school located at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama founded by Booker T. Washington.

At the age of 18 Rector and her family moved to Kansas City, Missouri on March 3, 1920, where she became a millionaire and married Kenneth Campbell, and had three sons. The Rector’s bought a large home in Kansas City, known as the Rector Mansion, and hosted famous African American Celebrities such as Duke Ellington.

Rector Mansion in Kansas City, Missouri. (

While Rector may have enjoyed her lavish spending the stock market crash of 1929, possibly “depleted her accounts.”(Washington Post). Another factor could be her lack of fincaical literacy. “No one took the time to teach her how to spend the money or how to invest it,” Deborah Brown, a relative of Sarah Rector said when asked by the Washington Post.

 Later in 1934, Rector then married William Crawford. Rector Died on July 22 1967 at the age of 65 years old while leaving a quite lifestyle.