Saturday, April 24, 2010

Remembering Sarah Rector, Creek Freedwoman

Birth Affidavit of Sarah Rector & Photo of Sarah as young girl

Her name was Sarah Rector.  She was a young black girl born in Indian Territory on March 3, 1902.  Her parents were Joseph and Rose Rector, all of  Taft, Indian Territory. Her story is similar to that of Danny Tucker another black child born in Indian Territory. He, like Sarah had a humble beginning, and he, like Sarah would make headlines for sudden wealth acquired by oil rich land.

Early in her young life, Sarah received a land allotment like all who were members of the Creek Nation.  Like thousands of blacks once held in bondage by  the Five slave-holding tribes, (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole Nations) she and her family members received land allotments prior to Oklahoma statehood.  It was a general practice that Freedmen often receive land considered to be of less value for farming as did citizens declared as Indians By Blood, and Inter-Married Whites.  However, the story changed when oil was discovered on her land allotment, near Taft, Oklahoma.

Her wealth caused immediate alarm and all efforts were made to put the child Sarah under "guardianship" of whites whose lives became comfortable immediately.  Meanwhile Sarah still lived in humble surroundings. As white businessmen took control of her estate, efforts were also made to put her under control of officials at Tuskegee Institute.

Much attention was given to Sarah in the press.  In 1913, there was an effort to have her declared white, so that because of her millions she could ride in a first class car on the trains.

These two snippets of an article appeared in the Chicago Defender about her:

Source: Special to The Chicago Defender
The Chicago; Nov 15, 1913; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The Chicago Defender (1910 - 1975)

Sarah's life continued as she began to get offers of marriage from around the world, and efforts were made to move her to Tuskegee.

As the headlines about her continued worldwide many continued to strive to have access to her wealth.

Because of the attention of the black press, Sarah's life eventually took a better turn, when individuals stepped in "from the race" to intervene, and obtain a new home and better lifetstyle for her.  

Not much is written about her adolescence, but it is know that she did  attend Tuskegee Institute, and after she completed her studies there, she moved to Kansas City.  In 1922, she married Kenneth Campbell.  They were known to have many real estate holdings in the area. She and her husband purchased a home that still stands today in Kansas City Missouri.  The home is on 12th and Euclid in Kansas City.

She and her husband were known to entertain the many entertainers of the day from Duke Ellington to Count Basie.  Little is known about the latter days of her life, but there are persons who are working on a biography of her life.

Home of Sarah Rector

This Creek Freedman child, though her descendants are not allowed enrollment in the Creek Nation today, has a rich history from the lives of the Creek Freedmen.

Sarah's father Joe Rector was the son of John Rector, a Creek Freedman. John Rector's father Benjamin McQueen, was a slave of Reilly Grayson a Creek Indian.  John Rector's mother Mollie McQueen was a slave of Creek leader, Opothole Yahola.  Their history is a rich one. The son Joe was enrolled with them on the same card.

Not much is known about the remains of the estate of Sarah Rector, nor her land and mineral holdings in Oklahoma, but she has a rich history and is one in which her descendants should be proud.


Kenneth said...

Thanks, Angela for including the exact location of Sarah Rector's home in Kansas City at 12th and Euclid. I've determined it was about four blocks from where a cousin of mine, Gladys Madden, lived. Technically not a Cherokee Freedman, but a black Delaware, she stayed in the hotel she owned at 1211 Highland Avenue. It was called the Watson Hotel and later the Stephenson Hotel. I suspect Gladys Madden (married names Kendricks, Stephenson, Adams) knew Sarah Rector, another Oklahoma native who was a couple years younger. I'm going to do some checking with descendants of that line of my family.

Ken Cooper

Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...

Hello Ken,

Thanks for your response. How interesting that you have relatives who once new Sarah Rector. I would love to see images of her as an adult. Plus other than her marriage, and an auto accident involving her and her husband, little appeared in the national press about her during her adult yeasr.

I would also be curious as to what may have happened to hear mineral rights and the property that she owned.

I have noted that that are some errors about Sarah Rector in several recent articles that have been published--particularly those remarks that she was orphaned.
The fact is that she was not an orphan at all.

He father died in 1922 and her mother died years later. Her father died after a business deal swindled him out of money in Mexico. He died in TX and his body was shipped back to Rose, his wife (and Sarah's mother) in Muskogee.

Still hoping to find more about this story and more.


Kenneth said...

Angela, I'm going to check on photos. I've seen many of Gladys Madden, but they've all been of her alone, or with her siblings and mother. Do you know if Stacey Patton, wrote the article on Sarah Rector for The Crisis, is the one doing a book about her? Her tagline says Stacey is working on a PhD in history at Rutgers and has written one book.


Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...

Stacey Patton is Senior Editor of TheDefendersOnline and Senior Editor/Writer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. The DefendersOnline is also the website where one of the recent articles where information about Sarah Rector appeared several weeks ago. So I will assume that it is the same person.

Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...

It is quite possible that this is the same person writing the biography. There is a Stacy Patton who also writes for the Defender Online, which was also a source for an article about Sarah Rector, so my gues is that this is possibily the same person.

Katie said...

I'm Sheran Pearson. Wow I can't beleive this truth. She was somthing else. I still can't beleive how white America shows up at the sign of money. I'd like to learn more because I'm of Creek Indian myself. I'm from ALA. Is she consider white or what if so how? Did she have kid and are hey of white relations? Or from more Creek Indians.

Valery said...

Kelvin Rector has written a trilogy about this, the true story of his family, his aunt was Sarah Rector, the "Richest Colored Girl in the world"

His writings go from 1866 when 16,000 slaves were turned over to the Creek Nation till now and how it relates to who he is today and how it has effected his life, a very compelling story. .

Only truth and knowledge will lead us to Liberty against such atrocities as the Tulsa riots. Why is this story not in history books?

sarahcampbell said...

Angela, thank you so very much for your blog. I appreciate you keeping the historical life of my grandmother alive. The story of her life is truly a fansinating one.

Katie, my grandmother was an African-American who had children and grandchildren who are all African-American. I thank and appreciate you for your comments.

Sarah A Campbell and family.

Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...

Hello Sarah,

Thank you for visiting the page. You know it is important that we are careful as we explore the past. There are many who will exploit the past based on a few headlines then alter it with salacious stories that are written not from knowledge or research.

Thankfully those in your family who knew your grandmother, loved her and were loved by her, and nurtured by her are coming out and speaking. There is the danger of the salacious headlines, many of which are simply not true, and the legacy of Sarah Rector Campbell is a strong one deserving of being told correctly.

As much as her early life was one in which everyone was dabbling or trying to dabble in her riches, there are also those who are now trying to own her legacy and control it and make its something other than what is was. She lived a strong life, raised a strong family and has descendants to carry on.

The fact that she lived to be an old lady and died as an elder, and was well known at the time of her death, says so much. The family taking her back to the family plot in Oklahoma is poignant as well.

The family was not murdered,and she was not murdered and she thrived and lived to see two generations follow her. And she did not disappear never to be heard or seen again. She never went missing and she had a keen mind on controlling her own destiny.

Indeed her story must be told.

And like all historical endeavors---let's not be guided by salacious rumor, let's get the story right.

Thank you Sarah for speaking on behalf of your grandmother Sarah Rector Campbell.

Anonymous said...


My question is where is Sarah buried now that her family is bringing her back to her family plot?

Thank you.

Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...

According to her descendants in Missouri, (including those who attended her funeral when she died in Kansas City) she was buried in Taft Oklahoma, after her funeral in the 1967. Her parents (Rosa and Joseph Rector) are also buried there in the same cemetery.

Valery said...

The birth record that I saw did not have Rosa's name on it. Joseph was crossed out as in the one you display but "Mrs" Joseph Rector is listed.

Another discrepancy is Sarah's fathers name, his name was John. Joseph was his middle name as stated on his Freedmen card.

There are a lot of discrepancies, such as where she was laid to rest, earlier it was said that she is already at the same cemetery as her family.

All this makes this even more of a mystery.

Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...

Hello, thanks for looking at the document.

Yes Joseph's name is crossed out because his wife Rosa was making the statement that she was the WIFE of Joseph. On the same document you will see Joseph's name not crossed out as he is the husband.

Note on the blog there is an enrollment card. John Rector is the FATHER of Joe Rector (who became Sarah's father 4 years later.)

On the bottom right hand corner of the document you will see the date that the enrollment card was created. It was created in August 1898, and Joe, the man who would become Sarah's father was enrolled with his father John, mother Bettie, and 3 brothers. Later when their enrollment was approved (in 1902---see the stamp on the card on the left side) the brothers Frank and Alfred were by then deceased.
So note that John is Sarah's paternal grandfather, not her father.

Joe who was 18 at that time later married Rose Jackson four years after this card was created. Sarah was born shortly in 1902, and both she and her brother Joseph Jr. was enrolled together.

They (Sarah and Joe) are listed on Creek Freedmen Minor Card #228. I did not include it at the time I wrote the article. If you are interested, you can find her enrollment card on, and see her enrollment card and the parents Joseph and Rose listed on the card.

However, I am not involved in an effort to disprove or prove anything other than an interesting story about a young girl who was eventually able to maintain her holdings later in life, as a woman, despite the actions of many who took advantage of her being a child.

I am aware that you have expressed your interest and amusements on Facebook and that there are issues with whether or not she lived a full life or not. But, I am not engaged in any kind of battle online or elsewhere, to prove anything but simply to share an interesting story.

Issues with details about Sarah's life should be discussed with her immediate family in Missouri.

My focus was to share a very fascinating story about one of many Freedmen from Indian Territory. Sarah and her family are Creek Freedmen.

Sarah Rector's body rests in the community where she was born---Taft Oklahoma. Her body was buried in 1967 at Blackjack Cemetery in Taft Oklahoma after the larger funeral in Kansas City.

Thank you for visiting the blog and I hope that you will find other articles on the blog to be of interest to you, also.



Elizabeth said...

My last name is Rector and I'm an American with German background. I was wondering where this version of Rector originated. I'd love to know more about my last name!

Mary Yexley said...

I found out about Sarah Rector just recently. I LOVE stories about the underdog triumphing, and this one is a doozie! From the sound of it, Sarah continued to have a fairly normal childhood, despite the charlatans who would have taken every penny if they could

I am relieved and grateful to the Black leaders who stepped in and gave her family sound advice and provided Sarah with a safe, balanced school where she could grow into a level-headed woman.

The part of her story that just boggles my mind and shows how absolutely STUPID some humans can be is the idea of having her declared 'white'. What a farce, and the people who did this go down in history as absolute fools who were obviously self-serving. It also smacks us in the face how much white people in those days feared any Black person with money/power. Speaking as a white person, I think this is asinine....seriously....look at Sarah! I love that she is so dark complected because it makes the whole thing that much more ridiculous.

This is a wonderful story, and I will keep looking for more information on this fascinating young woman and her story.

Mary Yexley

Anonymous said...

Hi Angela!I'm Yvonne,I enjoyed your information that you've researched on Mrs.Sara Rector. Before May2014,I never heard of her but after reading the information that was shared by you I wanted to know more. Please continue sharing your knowledge of our ancestor.

Anonymous said...

She was considered white because, contrary to popular belief, black & white actually pertain to one's status NOT their "color"/race. And most "black" aka "Afrcan-Americans"/"Negroes" did not come here on slave ships they were already here WAY before Columbus got here.

Anonymous said...

How amazing! Thank you for sharing Sarah's story with the world:-)

Akashi said...

I read this article simple because the name resonated with me... My great grandmother's name is Sarah Rector and is Native American and I wondered what the story was all about... Am grateful I stopped by...

Anonymous said...

Hello Angela; Thank you for sharing this article! I am a community Organizer here in DC and you would not believe how many people think that all African Americans (black people) are desendants of slaves. So not true! I talk to many people and try to share that. I begin by telling my own story; I am Afro-Panamanian, my dad came to this country in 1969 worked hard, saved his money and was able to send for his wife and 7 kids by 1973. Although Immigration tried to tell him that they couldn't allow all to come at the same time, he got a lawyer (another Afro-Panamanian with African American ties) and was finally allowed to send for us all. So on a chilly night in October of 1973 our plane landed at National Airport Passports and Permanent Resident (green cards)and Social Security Cards in hand! It's a running family joke that all of our Social Security Cards are in sequence (LOL) Today, all seven are doing fine, A Bank Loan Officer, Accountant, Title Researcher, Community Organizer, Detective Seargent, Airforce Officer, and Executive Assistant. All Black Skinned! I know that none of this could have been achieved if it wasn't for African Americans slaves or not, who struggled and fought for freedom! Now I will be sharing Sarah Rector's story one that has been omitted from a lot of history books and is not taught in schools (not even during Black History Month!) I will be passing this post on and I pray that it motivates more to do the research and to find out more about their very rich heratige. If all of us would take the time to share, we will find out that we are not that very different from each other. Thanks again Angela!...Franklin

Anonymous said...

What happened to her sons? Was anything left for them? Why can't black Americans get paid for what the whites did to slaves?

Edward Allen said...

Very informative . Would love to know more

Anonymous said...

Love this.thanks for sharing. Will have my 9yr old daughter do a book report about it.

Anonymous said...

This is truly amazing!! I stumbled on this article not knowing anything about this remarkable woman. Reading this and being from Tuskegee makes me soooo proud. EVERYONE needs to know about Sarah Rector.

Donna Rogers-Beard said...

I knew Kenneth Campbell when he was alderman in Chicago. What ever happened to the sons of Kenneth and Sarah?

Cherron said...

I too am so proud of Tuskegee Institute for stepping up. My father was a student and graduate during the "airman" days at Tuskegee. We are originally from a small town near Taft OK. My grandfather profited from oil back then. The land he purchased is still in our family. Again I am so proud of Tuskegee! I will vist the home site of Sarah Rector.

sarahcampbell said...

Donna, I am the granddaughter of Kenneth and Sarah Rector. I would love to talk with you regarding my grandfather Kenneth during his Alderman days. As for their sons unfortunately they are all deceased. Looking forward to hearing from you at your convenience.

Delores Brown said...

What happened with her fortunes??

Ian said...

This story is worthy of a film (movie in US) but sadly they would probably twist the truth beyond recognition.. The history surrounding the African slave trade needs opening up, for to long the assumed history has been based on misinformation rather than true facts, this has created issues in our society that has hindered its progress..

Terri Harris said...

I learn more and more and more everyday about how important "our-story" is and the role it plays in white America's "His-story"...Thank you for this vital piece of knowledge...I will proudly share this information with everyone I have the chance to come across with an open ear and an accepting mind!!! Thank you, Mz. are a gem!!!

Ihsan Patterson said...

Why they didnt teach us this while i was in school? Once again kept us from knowing our own history. This is really interesting to know

TiaT Wiley said...

Now that we know this part of history it is up to us to teach "Our" children "Our" History. Thank You so much for sharing.

Unknown said...

Beautiful piece of history ♡

Unknown said...

Beautiful piece of history ♡

mary said...

Thank you , for this information, I had never head of her, wow, so much history,

JusTonzae said...

What an amazing story...I would love to know what happened to her fortune and was there any of it left to her descendants?

Rhonda Rector said...

I read about Sarah Rector about a year ago. The story reappeared on Facebook today. I am certain that is because it is February. I am intrigued by her story, not because of Africa American History Month, but due to the fact that I am a Rector 365 days a year. I don't know much about my Rector roots. My grandfather, Alfred was born in Virginia and his grandfather, William was the town vet. My grandfather, born in 1895 did not have any knowledge of slavery in his bloodline or never discussed it. Based on his features it was clear that he was of Native American. I some point, I will do the research. I would be proud to be somehow related to Sarah Rector!

RJ said...

Hello Rhonda. This is a very interesting article. I PRAY you complete the genealogy research concerning Sarah Rector. GOD BLESSED SARAH RECTOR TO GET THE OIL RICH LAND! WHAT IS THE PROBABILITY THAT SARAH WAS CHEATED OUT OF HER MONEY ALSO (LIKE HER DAD).


RJ said...

Earlier reading in this article stated she didn't have any money in her older age.

RJ said...


RJ said...



Denise & Crew said...

I would love to learn more about your family and it's history. Have you ever talked with a writer to document your history?

Angela Dyer said...

Ran across this wonderful piece of history on Facebook. I assume it's due to black history month. I have read every word of several documents that shared Sarah Rector's Legacy. I am speechless and elated at the same time. Especially for unknown confirmation that all African Americans are not descendants from the whiteman's slavery story of Roots. In fact the we were here before whites. I myself have not investigated my genealogy, but know my maternal grandmother on my father side is an Indian. I would like to start the Journey of finding out my genealogy what soups can you recommend as a starting point. Thank you so much Angela for your research your dedication to the work you do towards genealogy identification.

A movie Hollywood should love to get on screen. We now have blacks in screen production.

Thanks again for your remarkable history story. I was imagining the story in my mind as I was reading through your article.

Angela Dyer said...

Ran across this wonderful piece of history on Facebook. I assume it's due to black history month. I have read every word of several documents that shared Sarah Rector's Legacy. I am speechless and elated at the same time. Especially for unknown confirmation that all African Americans are not descendants from the whiteman's slavery story of Roots. In fact the we were here before whites. I myself have not investigated my genealogy, but know my maternal grandmother on my father side is an Indian. I would like to start the Journey of finding out my genealogy what soups can you recommend as a starting point. Thank you so much Angela for your research your dedication to the work you do towards genealogy identification.

A movie Hollywood should love to get on screen. We now have blacks in screen production.

Thanks again for your remarkable history story. I was imagining the story in my mind as I was reading through your article.

Rdee Ferguson said...

Thanks for allowing me into knowledge space. All comments made me think.

Mo Rage said...

Fascinating stuff.

I found your post after doing some light research on Ms. Rector and have included a link to your post here on it. Thank you. (Mo Rage blog, posted today, Feb 6, 2016 at 12:30 pm in case you're interested)

Rich, fascinating history of the Kansas City and Missouri area but rich national, American history, too. Thank goodness things mostly turned out well for Sarah, for sure.

EG said...

I think one thing should be corrected, that is the statement that the Creek Freedmen received the worst lands. Though it's true that Creeks classified as new borns, meaning enrolled under the Act of April 26th 1906 did received assigned allotments which was pretty bad land, the majority of Creek freedmen received the best agricultural lands in the tribe. A recent allotment map of the entire Creek Nation was created in 2015 using modern day GPS technology that confirmed what the Campbell's abstract claimed about the allotments of the freedmen. It also confirms why the United States Congress removed the protections off their lands first so land speculators had easy pickings...