Umber Treasure

In the early 1900s, a ten-year-old black girl made about three hundred dollars a day on oil, maintained that money, and was considered “royalty.” Her name was Sarah Rector and those who knew her referred to her as “America’s Youngest Black Millionaire in 1913.”


Rector was born on a Native Reserve in Oklahoma. Her family lived with and worked for Natives on the reserve but acquired money when the United States government purchased the territory to make Oklahoma a state. Rector was one of the recipients of land when the government made the purchase.


The land that the government gave to Rector and Native recipients was labeled as useless because it was not firm enough to farm or really live on. Rector’s parents believed that the land was a burden and wanted to get rid of it. After failed attempts to sell Rector’s land-- while Rector was a minor, she was a property owner; therefore, her land could only be sold by her-- her father leased the land to the Standard Oil Company. 


This business decision turned the luck of the Rector family. They went from having to worry about maintaining the land to gaining three hundred dollars a day because of it. Sarah Rector’s land was rich in oil. Of course, all of the riches that came out of the land belonged to Sarah Rector. Neighbors and black influencers wanted to make sure that Rector still had a good head on her shoulders. They made sure that she went to the best schools for “colored” students and stayed in touch with the community.


Rector went many years maintaining her money until the Great Depression where she was hit just as badly as the rest of America. Though she lost a portion of her riches, it is still impressive that she maintained her land and took care of her family at such a young age. Before her death in 1967, Rector continued to invest in oil and invested in real estate.