In August 1919 with the First World War over less than a year and an influenza epidemic impacting Atlanta, the Huckaby clan gathered in Lithia Springs, Georgia for a family reunion. I’m related to the Huckabys through my paternal grandfather, William Rea Gideon. His mother Kate was a Huckaby.
Through pictures taken that day, I can piece together some of the people who were there. The matriarch of the family Ida Hunt Huckaby was, of course, there. She’s the woman in the middle in the above photo. Ida was sixty-six at the time. Her husband Reverend Archibald Floyd Huckaby, a Methodist pastor, had already been dead thirteen years.
The little girl to the left holding a baby is my grandfather’s sister Dorothy Gideon. This indicates that Ida’s daughter Kate Huckaby Gideon was there and possibly her husband John Gideon – my great grandparents. Kate was her middle name, her first name being Carrie. An interesting family trait of the Huckabys, at least among Ida’s children, is they seem to have all gone by their middle name. Any time you see them referenced by their Christian name, it’s the middle name that’s used. Interestingly, my grandfather went by his middle name, Rea, as well so it seems even some of Ida’s grandchildren continued this tradition.
Others of Ida’s children there that day were brothers Luther Pope Huckaby, Thomas Pierce Huckaby and James Cicero Huckaby – Pope, Pierce and Cicero, per Huckaby tradition – along with their families.
Pope was the oldest of the three and the oldest of Ida’s children. He was forty at the time of the reunion and was a Methodist minister like his father. Pierce was thirty-five and worked as a mail carrier in Douglasville, Georgia. Twenty-nine year old Cicero worked as a flagman for the L&N Railroad in Jefferson, Alabama. He and his wife Cora had been married less than two years.
When the food was all eaten and the goodbyes all said that day no one knew it would be the last reunion for two of these participants. In February 1920, the influenza epidemic that had supposedly run its course by October 1919, claimed at least one more victim in thirty-year-old Cicero Huckaby. He died on February 12, 1920 just one month after he and Cora’s second anniversary. In August 1920 the smiling girl holding the baby, my grandfather’s sister Dorothy, died. She had a congenital heart defect that left her heart susceptible to infection and in the days before antibiotics, died when a strep infection attacked the lining of her heart. She was only nine years old.