The Blue People of Kentucky

“It has some kind of historical account of this man called Martin Fugate. He was a French orphan. He was a stowaway, came over to the United States, and he eventually settled in kind of a really remote area of Appalachia on the banks of Troublesome Creek. And although the genealogies don’t show that he was blue, there are some anecdotes that say he was blue. But regardless, he ended up kind of astronomical odds finding a woman that he loved and ended up marrying and came to find out that she had this recessive gene, that when they started having children, their children… about half of the children came out blue.” – Author, Isla Morley of The Last Blue 


Hi, everybody. My name is Shana and this is the podcast. My goal here is to teach you the English spoken in the United States. Through common expressions, pronunciation tips and interesting cultural snippets or stories, I hope to keep this fun, useful, and interesting. Let’s do it!


Hello. This is episode 118.2, and I’m happy to be back to share an intriguing story about the blue people of Kentucky. The reason why I’ve chosen this topic for all of you, other than the fact it’s incredibly fascinating, is because it takes place in a region of the United States we have not talked about much – Appalachia. The story also sheds light on scientific research in the US.

Up until now I’ve only done a handful of episodes that touch on medicine and science. There was Episode 52 – A Bun in the Oven, which told the story of the "Octomom," a woman from California who gave birth to eight healthy babies after one session of IVF, so in vitro fertilization.

It brought about a discussion and some laws about how many embryos can be implanted at once. Another story was about Henrietta Lacks. That was Episode #6 – A Taste of Your Own Medicine. Henrietta’s cells, also known as HeLa cells, you might have heard about in science class. But her cells were taken from her cervix without her knowing and they have been used to develop the polio vaccine, they’ve been used for AIDS research. You can find them in labs around the world. And they were even used to create the COVID vaccines. And I’m talking about one woman’s cells. Isn’t that crazy? The story is wild. That is episode number 6.

That brings us to today. The audio you heard in the introduction was taken from a wonderful video about the blue people of Kentucky. Be sure to check out the episode page or the transcript for the link to that video. Let’s begin with the story.


To access the full transcript, mp3 and more, be sure to check out Premium Content.