Ever hear of Sarah Rector?
Well if you haven’t, you’re certainly not alone. I stumbled across her name by accident while reading about another intriguing historical topic (slave holding Native American tribes) online the other day. I consider myself a serious history buff, and since I’d never heard of her, I was astonished to learn of her fascinating story.
This rags to riches tale involves young Sarah Rector, who was only 10 years old when she became one of the richest African Americans in the US during the early 1900’s.
Her story is also a sad testament to the great lengths to which some folks will go to satisfy their desire for control and power. They’ll use all means of corruption to gratify their insatiable greed.
Sarah Rector was born in Oklahoma Indian territory in 1902. She and her family each individually received a land allotment as a result of their so-called “membership” in the Creek Nation, along with many other blacks at the time. The US government and the Creek nation agreed that the Creeks, and their former slaves, would be given land grants.
Mind you, this is before Oklahoma was granted statehood.
She and her family where among the thousands of blacks who where held in bondage by five slave holding tribes – the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, and Creek Nations.
So she and her family took possession of their stony, less than ideal, plots of land that where difficult to farm due to its rocky terrain. But their fortunes changed as dramatically as Jed Clampett’s did, when oil was found on her portion of land – Yes, Black Gold, Texas Tea!
That’s when all the money hungry crows and buzzards descended upon her.
Efforts were made to place Sarah under the guardianship of whites so that they could more easily control her money. People came out of the woodwork looking for loans and handouts. She even received a flood of marriage proposals, all while businessmen clammered to take control of her estate.
There was even an effort made to declare her white, so that she could travel in the first class section on trains, and also to ease the discomfort that white folks had regarding a little black girl possessing so much money (absurd).
She went on to study at Tuskegee University and then moved on to live in Kansas City, MO.
By this point, Sarah had managed to “own stocks and bonds, a boarding house, a bakery, and the Busy Bee Café in Muskogee, Oklahoma, as well as 2,000 acres of prime river bottomland.”
Although much effort was taken by unscrupulous businessmen to separate her from her fortune, she managed to retain much of her wealth until she passed away in her 60’s.
Her’s is a little known story with a big source of inspiration and pride.
Thanks Marc for sharing this story. Very captivating. I had never heard of little Miss Sarah either. So much of our history remains a mystery. Thanks for revealing this one.
Thanks for commenting!