Black History: A Real Life Little Black American Cinderella!

Sarah Rector was a real life Black American Cinderella. She started as the daughter of ex-slaves and living in a rundown shack, but she would become the richest Black Girl in THE WORLD! 

Here is her story:

Sarah_Rector via creative commons

When people think about the first African-American Female millionaire, they often mention Madame CJ Walker, but there was actually a young Black GIRL who became a millionaire at the age 10 in 1911. Although Walker was the first SELF-MADE millionaire, Rector inherited her millions ACCIDENTALLY when the racist Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 backfired.

Sarah was born in 1902 on Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. She was the daughter of slaves who had been owned by Creek Indians before the civil war.  In 1887, the Dawes Severalty Act forced  members of the Choctaw, Creek, Cherokee, Seminole and Chickasaw  to divide up their land and farm it in the hopes that by becoming farmers they would become “civilized” like the white man. When Oklahoma became a state, they would be assimilated into white ways. The land was given to both Indian and their former Black slaves.  The best surplus lands that were ideal for farming were given to White people to live on.  In 1906, Sarah Rector was given a small, poor quality subdivision of land that was worth only 566 dollars… in 1911 an oil gusher was discovered to be on Sarah’s land. Sarah’s oil reserve had the potential to bring in $50,000 dollars a month.

White men jumped at the opportunity to scam the young Black girl out of her money! Rector was assigned a white man as her “financial guardian,” who apparently did not care for her properly and scammed her out of much of her money. Sarah, who was worth a million dollars, lived in a shack with her parents, with no schooling, no shoes and only one old dress.

On June 18, 1914, James C. Waters Jr, a special agent for the NAACP, sent a memo to WEB Dubois. Waters had been corresponding with the Indian Affairs Office and the US Children’s Bureau over concerns of the mismanagement of Sarah Rector’s estate. He wrote of her white financial guardian

 “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?”

This prompted Dubois to establish a Children’s Department of the NAACP, which would investigate claims of wealthy, white oil tycoons who had been scheming Black Children out of their land and depriving them of their rights as land owners.

In an effort to protect Rector from  “Greedy White Men,” Booker T. Washington arranged for her to receive a quality education at the Children’s School in the Tuskegee institute. Washington wanted her greedy white financial guardian to be fired and replaced by a trustworthy member of her own race, but this never happened. However, Washington got a $1,000 farmhouse for her, nicer clothes and petitioned the Muskogee County Court for Sarah to have more control over her own estate.

At the age of 10 years old, while she was still a student at Tuskegee children’s school, Sarah Rector received hundreds of letters from WHITE MEN who wanted to be a suitor and or marry the girl  once she got older just so they could inherit her land. Some white men from as far as Germany wrote to her.  Booker T. Washington called on “The National Federation of Women’s Clubs,” an organization  which his wife was President of,  and made them aware of the white suitors who were after Sarah’s money. He cautioned them to make sure that Sarah stayed focused on her school and married a suitable man of her own race.

At the age of 20, Rector married Kenneth Campbell, a business man, and settled in Kansas City, Mo where she lived in a mansion. However the Missouri Legislature revised its majority Law and stated that the legal age to be guardian of one’s own property was no longer 18, but 21. A white man named John Collins petitioned to become legal guardian of her estate as she and her parents were “incapable” of handling her own money, but he was denied.

Rector had two children by her husband Kenneth Campbell and they lived a quiet life in Kansas City. Rector was one of the few Black children who inherited land and was not completely swindled out or her money and estate by greedy white men. She was fortunate that she had the support of the NAACP and Booker T. Washington who made sure that she got her rights to her land.

Source: Patton, Stacey. “The Richest Colored girl in the world.” Crisis. 117.2 (2010): 31-34. Web. 20 Oct. 2011.


Adorable Black Princesses

18 thoughts on “Black History: A Real Life Little Black American Cinderella!

  1. What an absolutely fascinating story. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I wonder if her descendants were able to maintain the family’s wealth?

    If the true history was to be revealed many would be shocked at how much black ppl were duped out of their wealth by their oppressors. There are numerous inventions that were created that they never received any recognition for. Stolen recipes that went on to make others famous and wealthy. Even beauty and fashion. Obviously, the ultimate of all being the centuries of free labour for which they were never paid a dime. Labour that made empires and created enormous wealth for numerous countries which these countries still benefit from even today.


    1. yes and the sad thing is we’ll never know unless there is a record of that which was stolen. But, it’s nice to share the things we do know because it helps show the world that blacks have always been creative, intelligent and equal to others.


    1. Do you have a Facebook page or fate social media where people can forward it? Because I had to copy and paste this article to share on my social media? God bless you and your family

      Blessings and praying you through. Tra 💞


  2. I would like to personally thank you for your article on Sarah E. Rector. She was an amazing women and mother. On behalf of the Campbell family I would like to thank you for spreading her story. She was my Grandmother.


    1. That is AMAZING and i am guessing you are named after her?! You have a lineage and history to be proud of! Please continue to tell her story for generations to come.


  3. The land and money belonged to Sarah because she received them as a member of the Creek Indian nation. When the Creek nation lands were divided, based on an agreement with the US government, each Creek citizen received an equivalent 160 land allotment of lands that had been owned in common by all tribal members.


  4. She was not an “African” America. She was simply a Creek indian. Belive it or not most black people in the united states did not come from Africa, they where already in America.


    1. UMM if you do your research dearest “gogo” you would know she was of AFRICAN descent and the only reason she was called a “Creek Freedman” is because she was a descendant of ENSLAVED Blacks, yes they were ENSLAVED by Native Americans. Why do you choose to run from your history???


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