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