Soque River

Soque River

Soquee River Days

Following is the story, written by John Kollock, to accompany the watercolor “Soquee River Days” which was released in 1999.

SukymSkwiyi, Sakwi, Suki, Sukee, Soque, Soquee…it has been spelled many ways since the time of the Cherokee.  In James Mooney’s Myths of the Cherokee it is spelled Soquee and also refers to Sakwiyi as “being a former settlement on the Soquee River, a head-stream of the Chattahoochee, near Clarkesville, Habersham County, Georgia.  Also written Saukee and Sookee.  The name has lost its meaning.”  George White in The Statistics of the State of Georgia written in 1849 refers to the Soquee River; as does Health Resorts of the South in 1892; and more recently Soquee appears on a survey map of property done in 1948 and the General Highway Map of Habersham County done by the Federal Highway Administration in 1987.

How then did our little river lose its final E.  Perhaps it is part of the new fashion of cutting our language down into letters like UPS, AMA, PDQ and so forth.  I suppose in the coming years of Y2K we will find names like Naccooche, Chattahooche, and Cheroke in common use.  Already we find that majestic river below us being called the “hooch.”

The actual village site mentioned is open to speculation.  A large flat-topped hill above the Hardman Bridge and the fields surrounding where many artifacts have been found, suggests a possible location.  At least we liked to think so when we were young.

The Soquee River is unique in that it begins and ends within Habersham County.  The headwaters rise in the Chattahoochee Forest around Goshen Mountain and gather force from the many little streams and branches that flow down into it as it passes – Oakey Creek, Roper Creek, Goshen Creek, Baker Branch, Long Branch, Shoal Branch, Ben Tatum Branch, Porter Mill Branch, Glade Creek, Deep Creek, and Hazel Creek – to mention a few.

By the time the Soquee reaches Clarkesville there is enough water to supply the town.  Further downstream at a series of rapids it once powered an Iron mill and later the Habersham Mills.  Eventually, at the county line, the Soquee gives up her name to the Chattahoochee, and together they flow to help fill Lake Lanier and eventually supply, in a much filtered and recycled form, the drinking water for Atlanta.

In the early years of the century, the Soquee was a different color.  I grew up thinking that all moving water was red.  In those days corn was the main farm crop.  The much plowed red clay fields drained away in wet weather and tinted the water.  When we wore bathing suits in swimming, which was not often, the heavy wood garments would become clogged with grit.  Even after skinny dipping, it was usually necessary to take an ice cold shower under the cistern to get the clay out of your hair.

When Kentucky 31 Fescue was introduced to the area the fields turned to pasture land and the river began to clear up.  Today there is much more concern for the well-being of the waterways.  Chemicals, subdivisions, and industry make it necessary to monitor the watershed.  The work of those concerned is greatly to be applauded.  It is hopeful that in the years of the next century the river may regain its original pre-pioneer quality.  And perhaps it will even regain its missing E.

Courtesy of the family of the late John Kollock

Suggested links:
The Soque River Watershed Association