Welcome to Thoughts Camera Action #ProvokingThought
Sarah Rector was born in 1902 near the all-black town of Taft, located in the eastern portion of Oklahoma, in what was then Indian Territory. She had five siblings. Her parents, Joseph Rector and his wife, Rose McQueen (both born 1881) were African descendants of the Creek Nation Creek Indians before the Civil war and which became part of the Creek Nation after the Treaty of 1866. As such, they and their descendants were listed as freedmen on the Dawes Rolls, by which they were entitled to land allotments under the Treaty of 1866 made by the United States with the Five “Civilized” Tribes.
Sarah’s father Joseph was the son of John Rector, a Creek Freedman. John Rector’s father Benjamin McQueen, was a slave of Reilly Grayson who was a Creek Indian. John Rector’s mother Mollie McQueen was a slave of Creek leader, Opothole Yahola who fought in the Seminole wars and split with the tribe, moving his followers to Kansas.
The law at the time required full-blooded Indians, black adults and children who were citizens of Indian Territory with significant property and money, to be assigned “well-respected” white guardians. Thus, as soon as Rector began to receive this windfall, there was pressure to change Rector’s guardianship from her parents to a local white resident named T.J. (or J.T.) Porter, an individual known to the family.