Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Blue People of Troublesome Creek





I first saw this picture when I was in the seventh grade, and it's haunted me ever since. I found it inside my otherwise boring science textbook, most likely in a section on hereditary diseases. Just recently, I was reminded of the picture when I came across another strange story. But more on that in a minute.

The people posing for the photo all belong to the Fugate family, who lived (and probably continue to live) near Troublesome Creek in rural Kentucky. And while the old picture was taken with black and white film and later tinted by hand, there's nothing wrong with the image's colors. You see, a fair number of the Fugates were blue. Bright blue.

According to historians, it all began in the 1820s when a French immigrant named Martin Fugate showed up in Troublesome Creek and decided to marry a local girl named Elizabeth Smith. Little did they know that they both carried the gene for an extremely rare disorder known as methemoglobinemia. But when they began having children, it quickly became clear that there was something . . . unusual about them. Four of their seven offspring were the color of plums. And they stayed that way for the rest of their lives.

Back then it wasn't uncommon for cousins to marry, particularly in rural communities. So blue skin, which is caused by lower levels of oxygen in the blood, was passed down for generations. As late as the 1960s, there were still blue people living in Kentucky. (You can read more about them here.)

Now what reminded me of the Fugates, you ask? It was a story about the gentleman shown below, who isn't a victim of genetics but of his own dietary regimen. He regularly ingests a substance called colloidal silver, which he believes has medicinal properties. Unfortunately, his attempts to stay healthy have gradually turned his entire body blue. Read more here.


24 Comments:

Anonymous Raph said...

WOW. That's amazing - but what I was really shocked by was the colloidal silver man. Colloidal silver is actually quite commonly prescribed by chiropractors and naturopaths. I should think twice next time I'm recommended that...
(On a bizarre whim I actually went to see one of those people... and I was given colloidal silver to take on a regular basis. Good thing I stopped.)

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Kad said...

I have actually taken colloidal silver. Now i am kind of scared

7:44 PM  
Anonymous ananka said...

I think this guy takes A LOT. Don't worry. He's probably been taking it since before you were born.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Spring said...

I wonder if you can turn any other color - like green :} (My favorite color.)

9:17 PM  
Anonymous SAME ANANYMOUS said...

thats so sterange. when you say "cotinuoe to live does that mean you think there gosts

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Lara said...

Huh....i just found out now that Kevin Fugate(a direct decendant of Lorenzo Dow Fugate and Eleanor Fugate) lives in Pensacola, Florida, not far away from where i live!!

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Maddi said...

thats so weird. my mom was just telling me the other day she thought that early people (like in the genesis of the earth) had dif colors of skin. i thought she was a little loony-tunes, but i guess she's smarter than i thought!

10:40 AM  
Anonymous udon't need2knowmyname said...

eWWWWWWWWWWWWW. THats interesting yet repulsive at the same time. blue people, eh? Well, i guess thats what you get for marrying your cousins. Good thing lizzie bennet married mr. darcy instead of mr. collins. I doubt the story would have been as famous if the children were blue... just a random thought. l8r g8r

3:40 PM  
Blogger International Mastermind said...

That IS repulsive. But I am all for the... different...kinds of people.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous kafkadreams said...

that would be so strange to look at your kid after he's born and see him blue. and continue to be blue. for the rest of his life. weird....

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Cupcakedoll said...

Ew... that blue guy is kinda gross looking I have to say. Fashion-wise, I think he'd do better without the beard, and maybe without any hair either. Then he might look alien and cool instead of yucky. Seems like if you're gonna be blue you should really go all out. Also I'm surprised he's not ill from an overdose of that stuff-- heavy metal poisoning or something, doesn't it build up in the tissues and cause trouble?

=) I've read that if you eat carrots-- lots and LOTS of carrots-- your skin will take on an orange color. Not sure if that's true or not.

3:29 AM  
Anonymous Patsee said...

I'm jealous. On a roleplay website my character has purply blue skin, but I haven't yet found a healthy way to get it for myself.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous ananka said...

Same Anonymous: No, I mean that some of the descendants of the original Fugates probably still live in Kentucky. But maybe their blue ghosts are floating around, too!

2:31 PM  
Anonymous ookamishinzui said...

My little sister ate alot of carrots once.... she didn't turn orange,(she might have I guess) but when she went to the bathroom- never mind.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous udon't need2knowmyname said...

o just another random thought. There's this place somewhere in the u.s. i think(Actually i'm not sure where it is cause i wasn't really paying attention because so far the conversation had been excessively stupid and dull) called the great dismal swamp. It was a question in our geo bee. thank goodness i didn't get that question cause i didn't and suspect never will know where that is. sounds weird. Maybe green or purple people live there.

4:57 PM  
Blogger International Mastermind said...

My grandma turned orange after eccesive carrot consumption.
But now she is normally colored. (oh well!)

5:27 PM  
Blogger Mammalian Geek said...

Hmm, sounds interesting, I wonder what medicinal properties the man thinks colloidal silver has? In other weird medicine, did you know that urine can cure Athlete's Foot?

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FooFoo._.smiley
eeeew, that's gross mamalian geek!!!


wow!
but when u turn green doesen't tat mean ur gonna throw up?

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was like, 3 years old I ate TONS of carrots and I did turn a mild orange color!:)

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Hazel said...

My father taught a girl who at lots of carrots, and by that I mean LOTS of carrots, and she was sort of yellow. And if blondes swim in pools too much, the chlorine can tint their hair green. Am I ever glad to be a brunette!

11:42 AM  
Blogger emily said...

Ummmmm...............They are part of my family so I would appreciate it if you guys wouldn't be dissin' on my family.Please.3

0.

7:41 PM  
Blogger emily said...

Also, what happened was caused by YEARS of inbreeding and it eventually led to where their blood was NOT getting enough oxygen and when your blood doesn't get enough oxygen it turns a hint of blue......

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, thats crazy! thanks for writing this article i got to use it in science class.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a decendant of the "Blue Fugates". There are actually a lot of decendants still living in the Troublesome Creek area. And no-none of us are blue.

8:53 PM  

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