The Fultz Quadruplets

This morning while listening to the TJMS (Tom Joyner Morning Show) I heard about the Fultz quadruplets. The Fultz quadruplets were the first identical African American quad babies born in the United States.

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They were born on May 23, 1946 at the Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville, North Carolina. The quads were Mary Louise, Mary Ann, Mary Alice and Mary Catherine. They were the daughters of Pete and Annie Mae Fultz. There were six other Fultz children.

The Fultz Quads – Mary Louise, Mary Ann, Mary Alice, and Mary Catherine – were born on May 3, 1946 at Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville, N.C. The Quads’ parents, sharecropper Pete and deaf-mute mother Annie Mae, lived on a farm with their six other children but were too poor to care for the babies. Multiple births were rare at the time and the equipment to care for underweight babies wasn’t as prevalent as it is in modern times.

The Fultz quads were delivered by a white doctor named Fred Klenner.

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The girls were delivered in what was known as “the Basement,” according to a 2002 report by journalist and educator Lorraine Ahearn. This “basement” was the Blacks-only wing of Annie Penn, and Klenner and Black nurse Margaret Ware helped Annie Mae give birth. Since the Fultz family couldn’t read or write, Dr. Klenner named the girls after his own family members.

After their birth they were used by the PET baby formula companies in order to sell their products to black families. A deal was set by Dr. Klenner with PET and the quads became very famous. As long as the family abided by the contract the Fultz family were taken care of. But it was Dr. Klenner who received a better financial deal from PET.

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According to Edna Saylor, the nurse who worked at the Annie Penn Hospital and who would eventually become the quads legal guardian, the farm that was given to the Fultz family really didn’t amount to much and PET could have done a better job when it came to helping the Fultz family. Ms. Saylor stated that PET took advantage of the Fultz family because they were considered backwoods type of people.

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As they got older the Fultz quads were accepted into Bethune Cookman College in Florida.

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They received a four year scholarship and were accepted as a unit. After two years of not being able to adjust to college life the Fultz quads dropped out of Bethune Cookman College and returned home to live with Edna Saylor and her husband.

The girls became the third set of quadruplets in America to survive until adulthood. But according to Lorraine Ahearn’s story, three of the sisters died of breast cancer before age 55, with Catherine Fultz Griffin believed to be the last surviving Fultz quadruplet.

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The November 1968 issue of Ebony magazine has a very good article about the Fultz quads. The only place I could find that issue is at Google Books. You can check out the article here.

11 responses

  1. […] Ladyrayne on Talking Stuff, who wrote a post on the Quads after listening to The Tom Joyner Morning Show last year wrote, […]

  2. Regina Glass-Pillow

    Hello, I would like to know more A bout the surving sister and will she get some compensation? This would be the right thing to do at this piont of her life. How about starting a fund for her.

  3. Doctors never checked out the milk the girls were drinking as babies, maybe it put the cancer in them. I have never heard of children drinking cream from a can even if you did add water, just saying.

  4. Edna Saylor was related to our family.

  5. Just learned about the Fultz Quads this morning….very sad story about exploitation and I really hope your aunt gets justice for her and her sisters. Babies are so precious and no one should take advantage of them in this way. A petition should be started and legal action.

  6. Kimberly, hopefully Tonya will read your comment. I know she has a Facebook page relating to her family.

  7. This is beyond sad! On how this so-called doctor and PET capitalized on this family. This is the first time that I’ve heard about the Fultz Quads. i read the story on Black Girl with Long Hair website. The living sister Catherine could try to get a Civil Rights Attorney, as well as a Personal Injury lawyer because this family faced a lot of injustice being treated like animals, especially the Quads. They was under a microscope from day one. I wouldn’t be surprised if PET formula had something to do with all of the sisters getting breast cancer. This could be researched about the side effects of PET baby formula. To Tanya I hope you can tell your Aunt about trying to get Legal representation. Your Mom and your Aunts were young slaves in the making! It hurts my heart reading the outcome of your Mom and Aunts. I hope your Aunt can seek some legal assistance on this because they didn’t have to live like that and be exploited!

  8. The only thing I can suggest is to contact an attorney and explain your family situation to them.

  9. I know and no current until 1997 after my mom past a billboard was auctioned off . My aunt and I wants help to get immediate action On getting the royalties that due to our family… My aunt needs help and family wants everyone to enjoy history black history.. If you have any info on how I go about getting this process stArted

  10. Hi Tonya. Thanks for stopping by. I first heard about your aunts on the TJMS last week. There’s really not a lot of current information about your aunts. Yes PET did use them and so did Dr. Klenner.

  11. My cousin told she heard the little known blk history fact was about my mom and aunts. My aunt Catherine is the only one living left on my moms side. I have been trying to help get word about how history has almost forgotten about The Fultz Quads! Pet built their brand off of my family and then pushed them aside once capital gain was made

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