Web Wanderings: The blue-skinned people of Troublesome Creek.

In Troublesome Creek, Kentucky – thanks to a rare, recessive gene – some descendants of Martin Fugate and Elizabeth Smith have been born – and have lived their whole lives – with blue skin.

I have no direct knowledge of this phenomena. I’ve never been to Troublesome Creek. (But, oh, how I adore that name.) I cannot find any public domain photographs of the condition. Still, I am fascinated.

While web wandering, I searched through dozens of sites to find the most reputable sources of information to share:

The ABC News website captions this image as a hand-colored black and white photo of Martin Fugate and his family. The source is shown as unknown.

In case you don’t have the time or inclination to read through those websites, allow me to relate the highlights.

It seems that Martin Fugate emigrated to Kentucky’s Troublesome Creek in approximately 1820. (From Virginia? France? Sources differ on this and other details.) Family lore says that his skin was blue, which seems to be confirmed by the above image, (but remember it is hand-tinted.) He married a local woman with fair skin, who nevertheless seems to have carried the same recessive trait he did. They had seven children, four of whom were born blue. These seven children married into the few local families in the area and founded a distinct bloodline.

That bloodline is complicated. I’ve been pouring over the available data, and I can’t quite trace my way through the tangled genealogical pedigree (provided by a descendant of the Fugates) which is viewable at the Indiana University website listed above, not even with the help of this reference: Pedigree Analysis.

The complication stems mostly from the fact that one of Martin and Elizabeth’s children, Zachariah (who was blue) married his mother’s sister. This marriage resulted in a generation of indeterminate number, which included Levi. (Or Levy.) Levi married and produced eight children, including a girl named Luna.

Luna was, perhaps, the bluest of all the Fugates. She gave birth to thirteen children, none of whom were blue. In 1975, however, her great-grandson was born deep blue, in a hospital not far from where Martin and Elizabeth first settled. As he aged, he lost the blue coloration and is thought to be just a carrier.

For more information about the condition itself, you’ll have to wade through the websites I provided, because I’ve developed a massive headache from tracing lines on that chart. (Two bits of pertinent information: 1: the condition is treatable, and medication can eliminate the blue coloration if it is taken daily 2: there doesn’t seem to be any adverse side effects to the condition – most of those who exhibited the color lived long, healthy lives.)

Before I go, I want to offer my personal thoughts about this. Many of the websites to which I didn’t link took an avid, breathless sort of tone which emphasized the fact that this condition came about because of inbreeding. I was offended. It isn’t hard for me to understand how geographical and socioeconomic factors contributed to the spread of this gene.

As a story-teller, I have to wonder if Martin journeyed to Troublesome Creek because there was a family there that would not treat him as an outcast because of the color of his skin. (Even if neither Elizabeth nor Mary were blue themselves, they both must have carried the gene – which suggests to me that somewhere in their family history, there were blue people.) Is it possible that he embarked on a quest to find people who would accept him as he was? And what of Zachariah, who married his aunt? Was he, perhaps, the eldest of Elizabeth’s children, and was Mary, perhaps, a straggler baby in Elizabeth’s birth family? How many children of the appropriate age existed in the community? And how many of those potential mates would accept a blue spouse?

In the end, I guess, there’s no way of knowing why events unfolded as they did. Without knowing, I think it best to reserve moral judgements.

Besides, isn’t it sort of wonderful that there have been – and may still be – blue people in the world?

Patience Worth brings a whole new meaning to ghost writing.

I just finished reading Into the Shadows – America’s Unsolved Mysteries and Tales of the Unexpected, by Troy Taylor. As a veteran reader of books on the paranormal, I can say this collection of stories is the best I’ve discovered. Often the actual writing in such books is barely tolerable, but Mr. Taylor’s work is clean, his voice is personable, and his tone is not overwrought. One story, in particular, fascinated me.

Original ouija board

In Missouri, in 1913, a childless, 30 year old housewife named Pearl Curren regularly met for afternoon tea with her mother and a neighbor. On July 18th the women decided to experiment with a Ouija board – a gadget that was all the rage in the spiritualism-friendly era. A presence which introduced itself as Patience Worth came through. Over the next weeks, Patience showed a particular affinity for Pearl. Eventually, Pearl was able to dispense with the slow Ouija board, and simply recite and/or write that which Patience wanted to share.

And Patience wanted to share a lot – over the course of the next twenty-five years, she dictated personal communications, essays, a play, several novels and over 5,000 poems. Much of her work was critically acclaimed.

*Lullaby – Patience Worth

Dream, dream thou flesh of me!
Dream thou next my breast.
Dream, dream and coax the stars
To light thee at thy rest.

Sleep, sleep, thou breath of Him
Who watcheth thee and me.
Dream, dream and dreaming,
Coax that He shall see.

Rest, rest thou fairy form
That presseth soft my breat.
Rest, rest and nestle warm,
And rest and rest and rest.

The story becomes particularly interesting when the pre-Patience life of Pearl Curren is examined. By all accounts, she was an “indifferent student”, with no particular knowledge of history nor attraction to spiritualism or writing.

Of course I’ve been all over the web, but I would say the best source for more information and further details is over at Smithsonian.com.

By the way, I would never touch a Oujia board. I hesitated to even post a picture. ‘Too many horror novels & movies for me, I guess.

*I found the text of this poem at Google Books. It was in the public domain title Antholgy of magazine verse.

What, do you suppose, are my chances of being arrested in the next 1001 days?

In the ‘studying ghosts’ section of my 101 in 1001 list, I have the following goals:
59. develop basic script for EVP solicitation
60. master equipment & software for EVP recordings
61. develop photographic procedure for paranormal investigations
62. develop complete paranormal investigation template
63. compose solicitation letter for for owners of potential investigation sites
64. build a tempting ghost toy
65. do at least one complete investigation of a graveyard
66. do at least one complete investigation of a reputedly haunted house
67. do at least one complete investigation of a mystery creature hotspot
68. do at least one overnight investigation of a reputedly haunted hotel/motel

Numbers sixty-five and sixty-seven are giving me the cold sweats.

The first six tasks in this section are completely within my control. (I like to be in control – I make detailed plans, to ensure that I stay in control.) The last, an investigation of a haunted hotel/motel, is simply a matter of having enough money to rent a room. Even the more difficult ‘investigate a reputedly haunted house’ only requires that I convince a stranger, who has no reason to trust me, to give me permission to poke into every nook and cranny of his or her house, in the middle of the night, for hours. Primarily so that I can satisfy my own curiosity. Still, unless something goes terribly, terribly wrong, number sixty-six won’t get me arrested.

It’s those remaining two goals that have me mentally rehearsing my inevitable encounter with some fine officer of the law, who has every right to sling my butt into jail for trespassing. Lately, when I am out driving by myself, I find myself considering using a payphone to call a police station to ask – you know, hypothetically – what a cop might do to a well-intentioned, harmless, middle-aged lady they find prowling around a graveyard at midnight.

Emmeline Pankhurst being arrested at King's Ga...

Image via Wikipedia

Obviously the way to avoid being caught committing a misdemeanor is to find isolated, out-of-the-way places to investigate … preferably places where a local property owner isn’t likely to justifiably shoot the trespasser skulking around and his or her land.

It’s not much of a plan yet, is it?

NOTE: To illustrate my post, I found the above public domain image. Curiosity made me look up the pictured woman. She was an important British suffragette. Click Emmeline Pankhurst to learn more.