There are times when people stand out in history for greatness, heroism, and even for things that are considered horrible. But for the Fugate’s, who resided in Kentucky in the 1800’s they were known for being blue. Not sad, but actually their skin was blue. They have also been known as the Blue People of Kentucky. Today I wanted to discuss them and their family.
The Fugate family were carriers of a genetic trait that lead to a blood disorder, methemoglobinemia, which causes the appearance of blue skin. How did it all start, and how common is it?
Martin Fugate and his wife, Elizabeth, married and settled in Hazard, Kentucky, in 1820. They were both carriers of the recessive methemoglobinemia gene. Because of this, 4 of their 7 children had blue skin. Now the very limited gene pool ensured that many descendants of the Fugates were born with blue skin.
This meant that due to inbreeding, the genetic trait remained common for several generations. The last known descendant of the Fugate’s is Benjamin Stacy, born in 1975. His blue tinted skin only was noticed when he was cold or agitated.
Since this gene is recessive for most people, it is not very common at all. In fact the percentage is at 0.035%. Which correlates to approximately 319 cases. So it’s safe to say that you probably won’t see a person with legitimate blue skin anytime soon.
Stay Curious my Friends!