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The Captivating Tale of Sarah Rector Who Became The World's Richest Black Girl at The Age of 11

Sarah Rector's life changed overnight when land allotted to her produced 2,500 barrels of oil.
PUBLISHED MAY 29, 2024
Cover Image Source: X/@DebbieDaco620
Cover Image Source: X/@DebbieDaco620

Sarah Rector shocked the world when she became the richest Black girl in America at the age of 11 after hitting the jackpot on land allotted to her, as reported by The Washington Post. Her parents were Black descendants of the Muscogee Creek Nation and were listed as freedmen on the Dawes Rolls. Creek Indians enslaved Rector's forefathers; therefore, as per the treaty of 1866, she was allotted land in the province. The objective of this provision was to set up the future generations of freed slaves and persons of African descent in the tribes for success. But, the land allotted under this treaty was so rocky and arid, that it was deemed unsuitable for farming. 

Image Source: Native Americans served both the Union and Confederacy. At the outbreak of war, the minority party of the Cherokees gave its allegiance to the Confederacy, while originally the majority party went for the North. Native Americans fought at Pea Ridge, Second Manassas, Antietam, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and in Federal assaults on Petersburg. A few Native American tribes, such as the Creek and the Choctaw, were slaveholders and found a political and economic commonality with the Confederacy. The Choctaw owned nearly 6000 slaves. (Photo by Buyenlarge/Getty Images)
Image Source: Native Americans served both the Union and Confederacy. At the outbreak of war, the minority party of the Cherokees gave its allegiance to the Confederacy, while originally the majority party went for the North. Native Americans fought at Pea Ridge, Second Manassas, Antietam, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and in Federal assaults on Petersburg. A few Native American tribes, such as the Creek and the Choctaw, were slaveholders and found a political and economic commonality with the Confederacy. The Choctaw owned nearly 6000 slaves. (Photo by Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

In addition to that, Rector's father Joseph was in no position to pay a $30 annual property tax, as per Oklahoma Living Magazine, and so he filed a petition to sell the land but that was rejected. Dejected, he leased the land to the Standard Oil Company in 1911, and two years later, the humble family of eight received the biggest news of their life that 'black gold' had been discovered in the land that belonged to Sarah. As per Business Insider, the land produced 2,500 barrels of oil worth $300, every single day. This means that Sarah would've been making $7,000 today, and she became a millionaire by the age of 18. 



 

Despite the joy that the changing fortunes brought, Rector was made the subject of many hurtful headlines such as "Oil made pickaninny rich." She was described as “an orphan, crude, Black and uneducated, yet worth more than $4,000,000.” Her life was also in considerable danger, just like many people in the Osage tribe who had become rich similarly through oil rights before being murdered. There were also attempts to get her declared white, as per Short History, because it was unsettling for American society that a Black person had so much money.



 

The law of the time dictated that People of color with substantial money needed to be assigned a White guardian for financial management. Rector's family chose T.J. Porter, who had been the family's benefactor for years. The move raised a lot of eyebrows, especially of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Rector's rare stroke of luck was a big deal for her community, and also a beacon of hope for the generation trying to build their identity after decades of slavery.



 

Many wanted authorities to change the law, and instead assign the financial responsibility to someone of Sarah's race. "Is it not possible to have her cared for in a decent manner and by people of her own race, instead of by a member of a race which would deny her and her kind the treatment accorded a good yard dog?" James C. Waters, Jr., an attorney affiliated with the NAACP, wrote to Du Bois in 1914. No change like this was ever brought, and Porter remained her guardian. Rector's wealth ensured that she could live a comfortable life till her death in the 60s. Though information about her personality is hard to find, it is widely known that she threw lavish parties and entertained celebrities like Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

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