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The Blue Fugates

Updated on July 16, 2011

The Blue Fugates

Fugate family members.
Fugate family members.

The Blue Fugate Family

The Blue Fugate's are a famous family clan from Kentucky known for the tendency of it's members to have blue or purple colored skin.

The Blue Fugate family was started when a young Frenchman by the name of Martin Fugate found his way to the Troublesome creek area of Kentucky in the 1820s. There he settled and started a family. Martin Fugate married a local woman named Mary from the Smith clan which had already settled in the area. The only problem was that both Martin Fugate and his new bride and her extended family carried a reccessive gene that caused their offspring's skin to turn a blue color, due to a deficiency of oxygen in their blood. This deficiency is known as methemoglobinemia.


Methemoglobinemia, is a genetic disease that is caused by the deficiency of an enzyme that carries oxygen in the blood. The result is that the blood turns a bluish grey color which can then be easily seen through the skin. It can now be treated with drugs.

A woman with the Methemoglobinemia, the same disease that afflicted the  Blue Fugates
A woman with the Methemoglobinemia, the same disease that afflicted the Blue Fugates

"Blue People"

The Fugate family, didn't have access to such drugs in the 1800s and so were forced to live without them. Despite their odd appearance, the Blue Fugates had no other serious health issues. Many members of the family lived into their 80s and 90s which was a rarity for the 1800s.

The only distress they felt from the disease was that caused by prejudice from others. The fugates became known as "those blue people in the hills," and were shunned outside of their home territory. This led them to marry amongst themselves and the Smith family, making the blue skin defect more and more prevalent in later generations.

Not Blue Anymore

Finally, in the 1960s, a young doctor from a nearby university came to investigate the so called "blue people." He found that their disease was easily treated by modern drugs. Only a few days after taking the pills the Fugates found their skin changing color and losing it's blue tint. With their ailment cured the Fugates reentered society. However, even to this day, occasionally babies are still born blue in the Troublesome Creek part of Kentucky.



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    • profile image

      Philinda 3 years ago

      Kick the tires and light the fires, problem ofilfcaily solved!

    • profile image

      Darlene Rose 7 years ago

      One of my ancestors from long ago married into this family (Sallie Rose) married Jehiel Fugate. I don't know if they had any blue children or not. interresting

    • profile image

      peterdumont 7 years ago

      r u blue too?

    • profile image

      KELLY FUGATE 7 years ago


    • jstankevicz profile image

      jstankevicz 7 years ago from Cave Creek

      This is an interesting and well written article. HubPages needs to add "interesting" as a category for positive feedback. Well, I can Vote Up!

    • vaguesan profile image

      vaguesan 7 years ago from Osaka, Japan

      i know! if there are no real health problems associated with it... why the hell not!? Maybe I would go on and off the meds. Blue skin for a year... no blue skin for a year.

    • John B Badd profile image

      John B Badd 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      Cool, I would choose to stay blue. Forget the meds :)

    • VagabondE profile image

      VagabondE 7 years ago from Hitting the road again

      Very interesting story.