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Painting of a Choctaw woman with long black hair and sad eyes

“The Choctaw Belle” a painting by Phillip Romer

“Our magazine bears the name of one who is indeed famous in tradition for her perseverance and heroism in bearing such important news to her friends” writes Louise Scarborough, student editor of the Isaqueena, the literary magazine of the Greenville Woman’s College first published in 1906.

Over 90 issues of the Isaqueena have been scanned and are now available free online in the University’s institutional repository FUSE. View collection here. During its run, the Isaqueena was home to hundreds of poems, stories, essays, and reviews, all penned by the female students of Greenville Woman’s College.

But who was Isaqueena and why was she famous for her perseverance and heroism? Scarborough recounts a rather flowery story of “brave Choctaw maid” Isaqueena whose legend was popularized in the 1898 poem “Cateechee of Keeowee” penned by J.W. Daniel. According to tradition, Isaqueena fell in love with a white trader named Allan Francis. One night she overhears the plans of the Cherokee to conduct a sneak attack on the white settlement, so she stole a horse and rode through the night to warn her lover. On this daring ride, she named Six Miles Creek, Twelve Miles Creek, and the town of Ninety Six along the way (see The Legend of Issaqueena).

It is unlikely that Isaqueena, the Choctaw maid, is anything more than myth, but thanks to the industrious and creative students of Greenville Woman’s College her legend lives on in the pages of the Isaqueena literary magazine which are now available free online.

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