Sarah Rector is deemed as one of the first Black women millionaires in the United States. Born in 1902 to African descendants of the Muscogee Nation, Rector was granted 160 acres of land by the Federal Government at the age of 12 as a result of the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887. Rector’s land was located in Glenpool, Oklahoma, about 60 miles from her family’s home and was considered inferior soil that was not suitable for farming.
Rector and her family became burdened with paying land taxes on the property, and in 1911, the family leased the parcel to the Standard Oil Company. In February of 1913, an independent oil driller named B.B. Jones drilled a well on the Rector property which produced more than 2,000 barrels of oil a day. Rector began receiving an income of $300 (about $7,609 today) a day from this oil strike.
In October 1913, the property became part of the Cushing-Drumright Oil Field, and as a result Rector began receiving royalties of over $11,000, making her the richest 12-year-old Black woman in the United States.
News of 12-year-old Rector’s wealth began spreading across the country and she began receiving letters requesting donations. By the time Rector turned 18, her net worth was already over $1 million (about $11 million today).
Rector and her family relocated to Kansas City, Missouri, and settled in a large stone American foursquare home located at 2000 East 12th Street that still stands today.
The Rector Mansion has been on Historic Kansas City’s “Most Endangered List” in an effort to bring awareness to the plight of this important site. Historic Kansas City has established a relationship with the new building owner, United Inner City Services’ (UICS) and has supported their efforts to seek funding and explore restoration of the Sarah Rector Mansion.
For more information contact: Historic Kansas City