Here And There around Hill Emumägi


The Nature, History and Culture of the Region


I Nature


Pandivere Upland is an upland and a landscape division in North-Estonia between the Viru Plateau, Alutaguse Bank, the Central Estonian Plain and Kõrvemaa.


Pandivere Upland is a flat terrain, thus clearly different from the uplands of South Estonia. The genesis is also different. Pandivere was an upland already before the last ice age, while Otepää and Haanja Uplands are island uplands piled up by ice.


In contrast to the Southern uplands of Estonia, Pandivere has a thin surface layer and its geological structure is simpler. The thin soil layer and a crannied base make Pandivere Estonia’s largest precipitation infiltration area. This means that water falling to ground as precipitation sinks into ground easily and no fluvial networks are formed – this is evident in the middle of Pandivere Upland by the virtual absence of watercourses and swamps. However, due to high infiltration and an average altitude, Pandivere is the most spring-rich area of Estonia. 11 rivers start from the slopes of Pandivere Upland: Pärnu river, Jägala river, Ambla river, Soodla river, Selja river, Sõmeru river, Kunda river, Pedja river, Põltsamaa river, the rivers Valgejõgi and Avijõgi.


To protect the springs, rivers and the forming aquifer of Pandivere Uplands, in 1988 Pandivere Water Conservation area with a surface area of 351 thousand hectares was formed.

The region has endured intensive agriculture. As a result, the condition of water in Pandivere become critical during 1974-1985 – in comparison to the 1960s, there was a more than 10-time increase in Nitrogen compounds content in groundwater. The region also hosted water contaminating Soviet military objects. Formation of the Pandivere Water Conservation Area was one of the steps of the Phosphorite War – the conservation restrictions could prevent the dangerous and non-reasonable phosphorite mining.


Although Pandivere Upland lacks swampy areas, its surrounding grounds hold several swamps, for example the Endla bog system or the swamps of Kõrvemaa.


Pandivere Upland and the Central Estonian Plain boast the best soils of Estonia, therefore Pandivere can be called the breadbasket of Estonia. Fertile soil is the upland’s greatest natural resource.

The Northern part of Pandivere has more forests than the South, there are also more bogs, for example Peetla bog located at the foot of Emumägi.


Climatically Pandivere Upland is characterized by a thicker snow cover and its longer duration. The only upland-based regularly active weather station in Estonia is located in

Pandivere. The absolute height of the Väike-Maarja Weather Station is 120 meters above sea level. It is has the lowest annual average temperature among Estonia weather stations.


In the Southern corner of Rakke Parish in West-Viru County stands the highest peak of Pandivere Upland and also Northern Estonia – the hill Emumägi. It stands 166,5 m from sea level and its relative height is 80 m. From a watchtower on top of the hill one can see up to twenty-thirty km in clear weather. The hill offers picturesque views to the forests in the East and the cultural landscape in the West, Endla marshland is well in view. Laiuse Drumlin (144 m); the hills of Kärde (110 m), Kellavere, Räitsvere and Ebavere; towers of the churches of Laiuse, Koeru and Simuna can be viewed.

By formation, Emumägi is a composite surface form: the drumlin-like ridge hosts an esker. Along with the Northern Tammiku hill, Emumägi forms a 12-kilometer ridge with ample steep-edged valleys and dips.


According to legend, Emumägi was created from mud the horse of the Estonian national hero Kalevipoeg (Son of Kalev) scraped in Peetla marsh. Kalevipoeg was in such a deep sleep after returning from a war path that he did not hear wolves creeping up to his horse. Trying to ward off them off, the horse, hobbled by its front legs, kicking its hind legs piled a mountain, but the wolves finally killed it anyway.


To protect the terrain, in 1978 Emumägi Terrain Conservation Area was formed. It is based on Pandivere South-East slope’s very expressive glacier-formed surface, characterized by a complex of drumlins, eskers and hanging valleys.

There are numerous deep basins, valleys and large pools. The area is 536 hectares wide.


The current Emumägi watchtower was erected in 1997. It is 21,5 m high. There are a solar house, a chalet and a tree-stump house located on the hill slopes, available are places for building a campfire and resting.


The Peetla bog system on the Eastern slope of Emumägi with its 5460 hectares is one of the largest swamps of West-Viru County. The bog system consists of Peetla (Salla) bog, Avanduse swamp and the drained Välissoo swamp.

According to folklore, during wartime Peetla bog was the hiding place for the surrounding villages. Turf was cut from Peetla bog and Avanduse and Välissoo marshes for local farms and Manors during earlier times. Today, there is mechanized turf cutting in Avanduse and Peetla bogs. The turf layer is 7-10 m thick. In addition to turf, although so far untapped, natural resources include lacustrine lime.


Seljamägi hill in the Southern part of Rakke Parish is, due to its natural resources, included in the pan-European special protection areas network, Natura 2000. The protected area of 199 hectares hosts different types of protectable natural habitats: e.g., dystrophic lakes and ponds, meadows of foxtail and burnet herb, old natural forests, old broad-leaved forests, forb-rich fir forests, coniferous forests on eskers, etc. K.E. von Baer, born in Piibe Manor February 28th 1792, acquired a lot of interesting material for his botanical and zoological collections from Hill Seljamägi.

Seljamägi hill is said to have arisen from sand spilled through a hole in the coat flap of Kalevipoeg when he was carrying it from Lake Väinjärv (Strait Lake) to Pskov. The path from Seli to Piibe connecting Vaiga and Järva County has already in ancient times followed the ridge of Hill Seljamägi.

The Seljamägi hiking trail runs in the area between Piibe and Tartu-Rakvere roads and is marked with signposts. On the hiking trail, quite near the railway, lies the disappearing lake Edru Kaanjärv (Leech Lake) of 0,5 hectares, where common water frogs live and water lilies grow. This little lake with quaggy banks is the Northern-most lake of the Endla mire system.


II History


By region Emumägi we nowadays mean the Southern area of Rakke Parish with 10 villages:

Salla, Emumäe, Koila, Kaavere, Jäätma, Mäiste, Lasinurme, Olju, Tammiku and Mõisamaa.  The local villages have historically belonged to Pudiviru County, later to Simuna Parish.


The first written historical source to mention these places is the chronicle composed by the Latvian priest Henrik, in Latin Henricus de Lettis (ca 1187-1259) – “Chronica Livonia”. Henrik was a frequent companion to the war- and looting trips against Estonians and acted as a missionary in Estonia. In his chronicle, he glorifies the violence of the conquerors and is hostile towards Estonians, who resisted the invaders fiercely. “Chronica Livonia” was first published in Estonian language in Tartu 1881-1883, translated by Jaan Jung and for the second time translated by Julius Mägiste in 1962.


According to the Chronicle, brothers from Order Võnnu along with Livonians, Latvians,  Germans, inhabitants of (Estonian) Ugala and Järva Counties campaigned in Viru County in 1219: “… and they moved all through the night to Viru County, which is a fertile, very beautiful and thanks to its even fields a very spacious land… And come morning, the Livonians divided all troops among the communities, they assigned Järva men, Ugala men, Germans and Latvians all lands to pillage. And the pillagers found all the people in the Viru villages to be there, they killed all males in all ages they could catch, not giving mercy to anyone. And they captured all women and children, flocked all horses and other livestock and gained a lot of prey. And the Germans agreed to meet in a big village called Tõrma, Livonians and Latvians chose Avispää as their “house”. Germans staid in Rebala Commune, Järvala men took rest in their own communities. Ugaunians spoiled in their neighboring County called Pudiviru, and made camp there. And after punishing the lands hard and killing more than several thousand people during five days, the community chiefs that had previously escaped finally came to us to humbly beg for peace” (XXIII, 7).


Among those chiefs was Alderman Tabeline of South-Viru or Small-Viru, whose land was called Pudiviru. Next year the Bishop sent priests Peetrus through Kaikivald and Henrik through Ugaunia and Vaiga to christen the people of Pudiviru. After sharing the teachings of the Gospel in Tarbatu, Lohkva, Saadjärve and Riole (currently Ripuka), they moved on to Viru County.

“The Viru folk from the first community called Pudiviru received the priests and all were christened in fourteen villages, along with their Alderman Tabelis, who was later hung by the Danes for accepting baptism from Riga and giving his son hostage to the Order brothers (XXIV, 1).”


The Chronicle depicts events of this place once more. In 1226 the Pope of Rome sent his Ambassador the Bishop of Modena to Estonia.

“But after the Twelfth Night, when the local roads were better for travel due to snow and ice, the legate-master went traveling with his churchmen and servants, taking along Lambert - the bishop of Semgallians, John - the dean of Riga Church, citizens of Riga, some Order brothers and several others. And he travelled through Livonia, went to the Latvian County and from those to Sakala, although his body was severely spent. And after a two-day rest in Viljandi he was on his way to Järva County, and all the Järva people met him in Kareda Village. He gladly gave the people the Word of God, and shared the Catholic dogma. And after gathering the locals into the hand of the Pope, he moved on to the first citadel of Viru County called Agelinn (today Äntu Punamägi, Äntu Red Hill), where he was received with great joy and honor, and he invited everyone to gather, and he preached them invigorating admonitions of eternal life and revealed the name of Christ. From there on he did the same in Tarvapää. Since they were invited, the Danes were also present. And then peace was made first among Germans and Danes and then with Estonians from all Counties. But after that, this very legate travelled to the community of Tabelis, where all the chiefs of Viru County had gathered to receive Christianity, and hear its teachings (XXIX, 7).”


The Pope’s ambassador dictated the regime of governing Viru County, choosing chiefs and magistrates from the noblemen. At his arrival in Tallinn, he forced the Danes to free hostages, sons of noblemen from Viru County, and sent those back to their parents. It is uncertain where the meeting of Viru aldermen took place. Was it again Äntu Red Hill, the largest village of Pudiviru called Tammiku, Avispea known from Chronica Livonia or the conqueror-enforced ecclesiastic center of the Parish Katkuküla (Plague Village)?”


A passage from Chronica Livonia concerning the Germans christening three villages at the border of Viru County probably refers to Emumägi. There was a hill with beautiful wood where, according to the locals, the great God of the islanders, Tarapita, was born. A clergyman cut down the forest and along with it all the sacred statues. The locals were amazed they did not bleed. (Chronica Livonia XXIV 5). Thus Emumägi has been considered sacred for a long time. Even later it has been strongly connected with the traditions of guardian spirits. There are also folk legends of a hidden treasure, which was sought.


Archeological research helps to explain the oldest history of Emumägi region. The ancient center of Emumägi was located in Tammiku (Oak-Forest), where today we know of Tammiku Citadel or Rahaaugumägi (Money Hole Hill), eight worship stones and an underground graveyard on the Kolgata (Golgotha) or Pealuumägi (Skull Hill), which was dug through in 1959. According to legend, there were also Taara (the local god, cf. Scandinavian Thor) Oak Forest and Sacred Oak Grove in the Tammiku Village, a sacrifice stone located in the sacred  grove (Hiiekivi) and a usual sacrifice stone. A story from an inhabitant of Avanduse Parish Old People’s Home, Juhan Rääk, gives a vivid picture of the ancient cult stones:

“On Tammiku ground in Salla Parish there had been a sacred oak forest, where folks went to celebrate holidays and to worship Taara. Taara was an old god. There was a sacred oak forest (hiietammik) and a godly oak forest (taaratammik). There was a sacrifice stone in the sacred oak forest and another sacrifice stone elsewhere. The sacrifice stone was brought all kinds of sacrifices when folks wanted to do well with animals. Several foods were brought. And all the folks brought, who had asking of any kind to do. Who took away or used the sacrifices, I’ve no idea. But the stone in the sacred forest was also brought, let’s say, gifts: garlands, ribbons and headscarves. The sacrifice stone was brought edibles and the one in the grove, rather, ornaments. That was the difference between the two. Because there were very few sacred stones in sacred groves near each village, not anywhere else but in the sacred forest. But there were sacrifice stones near each village either in a birch wood or in an enclosure. But those stones have been vandalized by now.”


According to another statement there was a big stone with the likenesses of a sword and a cross slashed into it in the Great-Tammiku village. Ten fathoms further there had been another stone with the imprint of a bottom on it. Nowadays Salla sacrifice stone and Salla sliding stone are easily accessible and labeled.


Occasional findings were known from Tammiku Kolgata or Pealuumägi long before archeological diggings. From Veskimägi (Mill Hill), a little North from Skull Hill, a thick bed of bones was discovered during a road construction. After the great downpour in 1913 bones, spearheads and sword handles were discovered. In 1958 during a cattle shed construction several skeletons with some grave goods turned up. Diggings followed that same autumn. Six more skeletons were found. There were two children, two women and two men buried in the graves. All the deceased were posed supine, heads towards the East – North-East. The males were found with just a few items: a crock erected between the tibia; a knife and an iron ferrule next to the skull; a two-studded strap separator from a belt; bands of leather intertwined with bronze wire above the heel bone. In the women’s graves the items were generous, primarily decorations, indicating the people buried in Tammiku graves were wealthy. From the grave of a less than 30-year-old woman a necklace, a decorative bronze chain with pendants and a cross-headed pin, a glass beads necklace, two bracelets, a horseshoe brooch, a bronze knife sheath with a knife and several bronze spirals for dress decoration were found.

Although an area of 79m² was excavated, the findings count was only 53. It is probable that several graves have been destroyed by centuries of agricultural work. It is also possible that part of the cemetery extended further North-East of the excavation site, from where messages have been received about chance findings. The small amount of burials with such rich contributions in Tammiku has made archaeologists wonder if Golgotha was the family burial site of the Pudiviru Alderman Tabellinus. After all, Tammiku with its 21 ploughlands was the largest of the 14 Pudiviru villages. At the time, the population could reach 150. All findings from the Skull Hill originate from the second half of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century -- the time of Tabellinus, who was executed soon after the German attack to Viru County.


The precise list of Pudiviru villages is given in the most important source of early history, "Liber Census Daniae" (a Danish book of land taxation, 1241), which contains nearly half a thousand villages from Harju and Viru Counties. The 14 Pudiviru villages were as follows:

Large-Tammiku 21 ploughlands

Lasinurme 17 ploughlands

Salla 15 ploughlands

Hirla 12 ploughlands

Koila 12 ploughlands

Käginurme 12 ploughlands

Avanduse 10 ploughlands

Emumäe 10 ploughlands

Avispea 8 ploughlands

Small-Tammiku 8 ploughlands

Villakvere 6 ploughlands

Selli 5 ploughlands

Kadiküla 3 ploughlands

Kärsa 2 ploughlands


As the list shows, all but Käginurme village appear today too. According to historians, Käginurme was located on the site of the later Salla Manor or somewhere between Salla, Tammiku and Mõisamaa. In the recent decades, Villakvere and Kadiküla villages have also perished.


Over the centuries all the villages have survived major changes – being deserted by wars and plagues, then revived, grown crowded, suffered, worked and worked hard, and sometimes enjoyed brief moments of happiness.


Soon after the surrender of Viru County, the Danes formed two ecclesiastical parishes from the ancient Lemmu parish: the Northern Võhu (later Viru-Jaagupi) and the Southern Katkuküla (Plague Village, later Simuna). The latter assembled all 14 Pudiviru villages and Paasvere, a village of 8 ploughlands.


In centuries, the borders of Plague village and later Simuna Parish changed. New Manors and villages were built, old ones disappeared. By the mid-16th century the following Estates existed in Simuna Parish:



First mentioned

Size in ploughlands












































The Estonian settlement is well documented in the "Map of Livonia" by L. A. Mellin, compiled in the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. It lists all villages, Estates, Manors, lesser Estates, taverns and mills, of those the villages by name. At about the same time, August Wilhelm Hupel confirmed there were 16 mills and 23 taverns in Simuna Parish.


35-40 Manors and lesser Estates have existed in Simuna Parish over the centuries. The number could even be larger -- although no written records have been found, folk tales have preserved reports (Imukvere, Jõgisoo, Jõuluveski near Käru etc.).


The unrestricted arbitrary power of the Manor- and slavery times was used consistently by several landlords. Often a peasant was exchanged for a domesticated animal. It is known that the father of Olu Toomas was brought from Lasinurme to Rohu for an indoor dog. A man from Harju County was brought to Emumägi Manor also for a dog. A squire from Käru was notorious in and beyond the parish for his exercising of the right of the first night.


From time to time, the peasants lost their patience and took to the path of mob law. In 1731 the landlord of Lõusa Manor insisted on a severe punishment of the peasant Andres Kanger, secretly favored by everyone else,  killer of the squire’s taskmaster, to “this way, inflict terror and horror among the evil people and to hold Andres back from further crimes."


One of the earliest descriptions of Estonian peasant life is found in a ten-volume book "Reisen in mehrere Russische Gouvernments...." (Travels in More Russian Governments) by the German literary man and Estophile Christian Hieronymus Justus Schlegel (1757-1842). One of the more detailed descriptions of the living conditions of rural people from 1807 when he visited several farms around Simuna:

"The Estonians’ buildings are all scattered. Everyone places their house where it seems most suitable to them.

The room he lives in is sometimes not more than 2 ½ or 3 fathoms square. In the middle stands a large oven made from stone or limestone, the land is rich of those. There is no table, no proper beds, his bedsteads is just a couple of planks next to each other, partly embedded in a gap in the wall, partly leaning on a pairs of legs, but there are no bed clothes, only a couple of rags...

There is no chimney in the living room, nor a wooden floor. The floor is paved with limestone slabs, which, as expected, are covered in dirt.

Sometimes there is a spindle or a spinning wheel in a corner, a small loom next to it, and an iron fire poker near the furnace. This is the whole of his indoor goods. A small door leads from the living space to a small chamber where milk, bread etc are stacked.

There is always not even a small window, the door then stands half or completely open, the only means of lighting. When it is cold or damp, the door is closed and the whole family sits in the dark night...

Next to the residential building there are barns and stables for horses, cows, sheep and pigs. The hens usually habit the living room.

Outside, a little from the house, is a summer kitchen -- a tepee, a cauldron hanging above an open hearth.

Nearby are tiny fields for cabbage, turnips, onions and other vegetables, each surrounded by fencing. The whole yard and buildings are fenced.”


Schlegel characterizes Estonian food as follows: "He chews his bread with chaff or without, eats his cabbage soup; drinks a little milk if he is wealthy enough for a couple of cows; every 14 days or once a month he eats meat; his usual drink is water, a glass of vodka is a dream come true, dried or salted fish a delicacy. A salted small herring and a peasant are so inseparable that one can smell salted fish from the distance of a 100 steps. Sometimes herrings also reach the peasants’ table.” In June 1807 Schlegel witnesses a family cooking nettle and sorrel soup, but notes that during summer, the main dish is barley flour gruel mixed with sour milk. A favorite of the peasants is barley flour porridge. “If lucky, a pig is slaughtered in autumn, sometimes a sheep. The meat is part salted, part smoked above the heat of the furnace.”


People’s memories add valuable information to archival data. Evil landlords and their deeds are remembered most.


Salla Land Police Court Judge Harpe was, according to people, half-mad. When he was riding, people had to turn to the ditch, along with their loads. Harpe wore a black hat with a red edge. As soon as the hat was seen, everyone escaped. He was of average stature but quite plump. He expected worship, falling to one’s knees and petting his; if this was not done, the punishment was a beating of 15 lashes. The Fish Russians had not known him, the Judge immediately went to beat them, but the Russians gave Harpe a good hiding instead. The first caretaker in Salla, Triipstok, was a tough guy, took Harpe to court about a mill. Jail him if he will. "Does the wind belong to Sir?" - "When it blows over my land, it is mine.” Finally the two made up, the Judge invited the caretaker to his Manor, offered him wine and said: "We are tough, both of us."


There are many legendary stories about Tammiku Manor and its governors. A couple of hundred years ago, Tammiku Squire had his chambermaid wheeled down a hill in a spiked barrel for accidentally breaking a carafe. A spring emerged from the poor girl's execution site by the road of Tammiku-Lammasküla, it streams even today.


Essen of Tammiku was the Governor of Riga. He used to beat people like crazy. Alexander II came in plain clothes to scold Essen. "What business is this of yours”, Essen shouted and smacked the Emperor’s ears. The Emperor revealed himself. The Governor was dismayed, begged for forgiveness. The Emperor was gracious, had Essen only taken into custody. The following morning he was dead, though. Actually, he had escaped to Tammiku and lived another three decades. According to other reports, he was sentenced to death, an old cripple was buried in his stead in Riga and he was secretly brought to Tammiku, where he lived in the piano house for ten years, never going outside, not even to the fields. The Mrs. managed everything by herself.


Mrs. Governor was a very impatient person. She drove people out of the park: "Go away, you filthy man! Get off my park, you filthy man! "Once, being afraid to sleep alone, she invited a girl to sleep in her room in front of her bed. In the morning, seeing the girl's head was on a rug in front of the bed, she cried out: "Oh, you horrible woman, how dare you put your head on my rug!" When angry, she trampled her feet and tore her hair. Once, she felt like replanting the Plettenberg oak from Salla Park to Tammiku forest, promising 6000 gold rubles for the effort. No one dared to take the risk, fearing the load would be too heavy to climb Traksi hill.


Anecdotes and myths mocking Squires and depicting peasants as heroic form a large part of the folk memory:

“There was an inadequate cripple Juhan in Salla. He took a stick or a barrow and played horse on it. When reaching the castle of the Governor of Riga, he went to the Governor and told him he, too, was from Tammiku where the governor’s real home was, and wanted to go home, but was lost. The Governor had no other way to get Juhan to leave than to dress him in his old uniform and send him off in a four-horse carriage. The horses were changed in each postal station until Tammiku. The last post station sent word to the Manor that the Governor was coming, everyone was lined up, the errand boy marching in front. When the cripple arrived at the Manor, Mrs. Governor clapped her hands in disbelief and Juhan run off towards Small-Tammiku. He wore the suit for a long time.” (Hilda Sillaste, 55 years old in 1963, in Võhmetu.)


Another story of the selfish Mrs. Governor: “In 1878 the Tapa-Tartu railway was built. Some trains had already gone when the Tammiku Lady decided to go to Tartu too. She had not even reached the railway crossing when she noticed a train leaving. She started shouting: “Stop! Stop! I am the Lady from Tammiku!” (Aleksander Arumaa, 68 years old - Anne Miglai, 15 years old in 1961.)


A spark-tailed goblin (pisuhänd) was made in Salla Manor. “Boys were threshing and wanted to take rye to the tavern in exchange for vodka. They had a lousy steward who wandered between the tavern and the Manor each night. Upon catching a boy with rye, he would take the boy to the grain kiln-drying room and beat him 25 times with a stick. The boys decided to build a spark-tailed goblin for revenge. One brought a pair of pants from home, took a sheet of fabric on his shoulders and held a hat on a stick, screaming: help, get the goblin, it’s running towards Laane tavern! When the runner reached the Steward, he kicked him over with the clothed stick. All followers who caught up also took the “goblin” and kicked the Steward. The goblin finally “ran off” across a ditch to Peetla, the boys following. When they returned, they boasted about giving the goblin a good hiding. The Steward was scared to death and begged the boys to take him to the threshing barn. The boys complied, but the Steward was still scared to go to the Manor so he promised each boy a liter of vodka for sending him to the Manor. So two boys took some poles for protection and sent him to the Manor. Other boys took some rye to the tavern and still got their vodka. Since then, the Steward did not go wandering. This was some 200-300 years ago. My granddad was one of the boys.” (Anna Viirmann, 69 years old - Õie Rohtmaa, 14 years old in 1960.)


"The Baron of Lasinurme was travelling the local road. Village boys wanted to harass him. They hid in the ditch with a concertina. When the Baron’s coach was riding by, the concertina made a loud honk-honk-honk.

Oh my, how the horses bolted! Only stopped at the wall of the Manor. The Baron miraculously survived." (Adele Kaljuste, 69 years old -- Liina Kink, 16 years old in 1961.)


"This happened in Mõisamaa Manor. There was an evil Taskmaster who couldn’t stand the ploughmen constantly stopping the horses for a chat. So he took the peasant whose fault he believed these stops to be away from the others and made him cut brushwood from ditches. But the man again came up with a prank. He undressed and started hopping over the ditches. The ploughmen stopped their horses and wondered if Villem had finally completely lost it and went to see what was wrong with him. When the men arrived, Villem quickly dressed and asked what was wrong with them that they came to him. The Taskmaster happened to see this and said: “Where ever you are, you prank others to come up to you and waste working time.” Then he put the man to the plow with the others." (Kalle-Albert Pohlak in 1959.)


No major peasant uprisings took place within the Parish. However, during Mahtra War local peasant disturbances turned into resistance too.

On July 7th, 1858 there was a disturbance in Emumägi -- Manor hands demanded smaller pieces of clover to scythe, mocked and abused the Landlord. The Landlord summoned a servant who acted particularly arrogantly to the Manor. He turned up, but 14 others followed, all armed with sticks. Of course the Estate police did not dare deal with the insurgents. On July 9th, a half squadron of Ural Cossacks was sent from Paunküla Manor to the Police Judge. According to a report by E. v. Dehn to the Governor of Estonia from July 15, 1858: "When I finished investigating and punishing the offenders in Emumägi, I left the Cossacks there. However, after that peasants have refused to work in Moora, Pudivere and Vinni Estates, and therefore I am compelled to humbly ask your Excellency to leave the Cossacks to my disposal, because it is impossible to stifle the evil spirits without military force."

The Police Judge's report does not indicate how many sticks were used to "stifle the evil spirits”. People remember a brass band coming with the soldiers so that their music would drown the screams of the people being threshed.

A leading man of the Emumägi insurrection was one Toomas Kirss, who, according to folk memories, scythed in a manner that left half of the grass growing. When Sir shouted at Toomas, he wanted to hit the Master with his scythe. Other records indicate farm hands receiving their payment in kind requested their Landlord write the Emperor to ease peasant life. But Dehn replied that our letters do not run to the Emperor. So Toomas Kirss pulled out his scythe – I’ll try out if they run or not. Dehn hid behind another farm hand and shouted, "The one with a scythe is in trouble!" Toomas was sentenced to 50 lashes. He put on all of his trousers, secured them with a mansion padlock and went to accept his punishment. When the Baron ordered Toomas’ trousers to be removed, Toomas called out: "There is no law in the Russian state allowing breaking a lock." The Landlord could not help it, he ordered to beat Toomas with the trousers on, but Toomas just laughed because the clubs did nothing. In fact, he did not escape so easily – soldiers beat him so badly that he became mad. But even then Toomas did not leave the Baron at peace: once he carried the Manor’s rye to his own barn, another time he killed the Manor’s fattened ox.


The Estonian mass emigration in the middle of the 19th century did not spread to Simuna Parish. Yet here was one of the emigratory centers of the Land-Viru County in the 1860s. On July 7, 1860 all Tammiku peasants gathered to the Manor, saying they want to migrate to the province of Saratov. At the same time, a three-member representation was sent from Tammiku to the Parish Judge. Three days later Võivere peasants appeared in front of their Landlord, wanting to migrate to Southern Russia. On November 21st the same year there was another mass gathering in Tammiku mansion, the peasants demanded passports to immediately go to Russia. Although the deadline to give up farmlands had passed, the peasants were given their dismissal letters. The peasants complained at the Parish Police Court, so passports were given, but only to 11 men. In 1861 a representative of the Tammiku Parish, K. Rosenroth, carrying 13 passports, took the far-away path to obtain admission licenses for all. Archive files do not reveal the actual number of people leaving Simuna Parish. A folk story recorded in 1932 states 22 peasants prepared to relocate to the Caucasus; three brothers went on their way, but at a later date returned.


Farm prices were quite high in Viru County in the late 19th century. Cottager sites of five dessiatins  in Salla Manor cost 1300-1500 rubles, one as much as 2000 rubles; a homestead  of 29 dessiatins 3600. "Besides that, the buyer pays the owner back one year’s rent and all construction costs, adding 200-300 rubles to the total." (Newspaper "Olevik" 1894, p. 690).


The revolution of 1905-1907 also involved Simuna Parish. Peasants of Avanduse petitioned to the effect that schools be taught only in Estonian, and only those who know the Estonian language thoroughly be assigned to courts and other posts.

In Tammiku peasants took over all Manor forests and put their own forest keepers to the office. When sailors came to Tammiku in January, all 20-60 year-old males were forced to the Parish Office. There were no higher penalties, a few men were beaten and one sent to exile in the Arkhangelsk Province.

In Käru a major rebellion instigator Juhan Kukk was sentenced to be shot, but escaped. On January 18th 1906, three Käru men were beaten in Salla in an old Cossack house: Johannes Vilberg and Kaarel Neibaum 50 lashes, Mihkel Birnbaum 35 lashes.


An excerpt from a story in the newspaper "Maatamees" (“Man Without Land”) no. 66 from December 21st 1917 depicts the events of the October Revolution as follows: "On the 10th of this month the Manors takeover crew arrived from Tallinn. First Salla Manor was taken over and given to the care of the workers. Käru Manor followed suit. Now the dispossessors work in other Manors in Salla Parish and hopefully they will complete their work by Christmas. Takeovers are calm and lawful everywhere.

A more active approach to the Revolution took place in Salla Parish when about 20 men formed a Red Guard unit. The unit consisted of the Käru Estate farm hand Kaarel Kivistik with his sons Eduard and August, the Käru Estate’s workers Aleksander Neuhaus (Riives), Eduard Kangur, brothers Villem and Johannes Nuudi, Salla Estate workers Johannes Teppan, Eduard and Johannes Kukk, farmhands Johannes and Jaan Kull; artisans Eduard Valk from Avanduse, Kärner from Mäiste, Anu from Edrus etc. The organizers of the Red Guard were the son of Tammiku forest keeper August Staak and the treasurer of the Parish Council of People's Delegates, Johannes Spiegel. The Guard was located in the Estate’s road-side Manager House.

On February 15th 1918 a retreating squad of about 40 Red Guards arrived from Tartu to Salla. The same day the Red Guards attacked a convoy of White Guards approaching Salla, took all 20 men prisoners and placed them into custody in the distillery.

On February 20th a larger White unit reached Salla, to whom the Reds were forced to retreat. A Red Guard named Oja from Emumägi died in battle. The rest of the Red Guards retreated to Peetla bog and from there moved on to Simuna road. Still, the White Guards managed to arrest a number of Red Guards, who were first taken to Koila Manor, then to Kiltsi Manor, where they were shot next to the Manor barn."

In the turmoil of World War I, the revolution and the Civil War, more than 150 men were killed in Simuna Parish on the battle and home fronts.


As much as from statute labor, people were equally oppressed by vodka. During the third quarter of the 19th century Simuna Parish still had no shops. The nearest shop was in Müüriku near Väike-Maarja. At the end of the century the Parish had one shop but 43 taverns. The newspaper "Sakala" wrote on August 6, 1888 about Simuna Parish that a tavern has very bad influence on its surroundings, ruining people and insulting the church and pray houses. In 1893 the 17th issue of the newspaper “Valgus” (“Light”) reads: "Laekvere village hosted two taverns, both belonging to a Squire, but this year they are merged. The lease from one tavern used to be a little over a thousand rubles, but now it is about two thousand rubles from one. The good standing of the Laekvere tavern is old news."

The newspaper "Olevik" wrote in their 27th number in 1894: "From Simuna. The local Police Officer recently ordered the tavern to close at 10 PM. The tavern keeper intended to do so, but a drunken man resisted fiercely. Our Officer is a decent, dutiful man who does not allow loiterers, thieves and drunks to do what they wish, but hands them to Court for punishment. We wish the best men of our Parish unitedly followed the example of other parishes and would send its corrupt members away from the mother land. When life proceeds as now and youth fall into further wickedness in taverns, then once we have had 100 years of sacred liberty, we will have to look back on the life of our people with shame."

The same year the 38th number of "Olevik" reports that on September 6th Salla Parish Council decided to send 11 suspicious people to Siberia. A good and honest deed -- the only means of reducing their number. The men to be sent away feared this, I heard a man whose brother was sent away say "the send-off was so moving it made blood boil".

In 1896 “Olevik” reported a fire in the tavern “K.” in Simuna Parish and recommended people petition their superiors to not to attempt to build it up, which supposedly was what the majority desired.

In 1912 "Kodu" (“Home”) characterized Simuna Parish as follows: "Despite all piety, drinking is wide-spread in Simuna. The monopoly and three beer shops water the people and do not let their throats dry. Men say: "If you do not drink vodka, you are not a man nor belong among men." This year, however, "men" had to hear to their great dismayed that the crown vodka shop will be closed. "How the hell do we have weddings and christenings now?” they ask, shaking their heads.

Massive home brewing followed the closure of taverns. The newspaper “Vaba maa” ("Free Land") published a short message on June 31st 1919: "Since bigger and better machines have been used for brewing “moonshine” from potatoes, the price of the drop of life has decreased. Men smelling of moonshine have often been seen at public parties and the drop of life again habitats family parties. According to vodka users, in villages the price for a half stoup of vodka has dropped from 60 marks to 20.

The militia government has succeeded in landing moonshine factories that produce 15-20 buckets of "fire water" per day. So some industry branches progress well here in Estonia."


The vodka devil did not plague only the peasantry, also the squires: "A great Count von Poppen lived in Koila Manor. He served in the military and was generally a kingpin, but also a great boozing bear. Before death he began to drink like crazy. He drank all his own and then for stolen money. Every time he paid for wine or beer with stolen money, the drink ran down his moustache, though. The innkeeper laughed: "Hey you, Earl or General, if you drink so much, you will become a ghost after death." And so it happened. After his death, the General began walking around the village. He was on horseback, so the spurs jingled. People began to fear him, some even begged God for his mercy.” (Marie Ennus, 53 years old -- Viive Ennus, 13 years old in 1960.)


The biggest and architecturally most significant tavern building in the Parish was the house with two pillared facades located on the Simuna crossroad. This structure with 11 pillars was unique in whole Estonia. There were similar tavern houses in Koeru and Kuivastu, but the one in Simuna was considered to be the most beautiful of the three. There were stone stables at both ends of the wooden house: towards Avanduse one for squires and towards Rakke one for peasants. The tavern closed during I World War.

After that a tea house was opened here, operating until 1923. That same year, the former tavern was built into a dairy.


Simuna tavern was associated with the founding of the career of one of Estonia's millionaires, owner of Rakke lime factory and various other businesses, Karl Kadak. Kadak descended from the family of a Käru forest keeper. He missed most of his only winter of schooling, from early on trafficking in knives and other bric-a-brac. He rented Simuna tavern with 200 rubles borrowed from Kadiküla tailor Jüri Seidel. The duration of Kadak’s dealings in Simuna coincided with the rebuilding of Simuna church in 1885-1886, and since the builders were good friends of vodka, the workers’ money flew into the pockets of Kadak. It is said that after the completion of the church several construction workers were so flat broke they had to beg Kadak for money to travel home. The earnings from Simuna tavern bought Kadak farms near Rakke, and in Jaola village a lime-kiln belonging to Kärsa Manor.

Anecdotal stories of the natural instinct of Kadak as a businessman, his illiteracy, greed, laziness and other talents still circle the crowd.

In Simuna tavern he added more and more water to vodka, according to the tipsiness of the client. In Simuna village boys played tricks on him: they stained the tavern windows with carriage grease. In the morning Kadak woke up and saw it was still dawning, so he slept on. Woke again, but still -- dawning. He was so lazy he could not be bothered to go outside to check. Finally he got up, opened the door and saw people coming to lunch from hay fields.


Simuna got its own Parish Doctor only in 1892. Previously, since 1856 medical care was available in Lammasküla near Rakke, where Dr. O. L. Hoffmann alone serviced besides Simuna also the people of Väike-Maarja, Koeru and Järva-Jaani Parishes.



III Cultural history


The first reports on the education of people reach the end of 17th century when many people were said to have been literate in Simuna Parish. In the 1760s there had been one school in the Parish. During the first half of the 19th century 14 public schools were established. In 1840 there were 10 schools with 493 students in Simuna Parish, at the same time only 4 schools with a little over 100 students in Väike-Maarja Parish and 3 schools with 100 students in Koeru. Concurrently, all Simuna Parish schools also had Sunday schools.


Simuna Parish schools existing in the 19th century were established in the following years:


























The Parish had established a regulation that children of ages 7-10 learned at home, ages 10-13 went to school 3 or 4 days a week, and ages 13-16 went to school to repeat once a week.

The condition of school buildings is not entirely clear due to insufficient data, but even the occasional reports state that often non-habitable houses were used as schools. Tammiku School was located in a former tavern for decades, only in 1886 when the building was crumbling on the children, a new schoolhouse was built with the help of the Manor. The May 29th 1885 “Eesti Postimees” ("Estonian Postman”) published impressions from Estonia: „... school buildings are in a very poor state. Uniküla school is only 4 fathoms long and 2 wide, what could a good school master do there, and his wages are only 60 rubles..."


By mid-19th century there were 18 parish schools in Southern Estonia and the only one in the North was in Simuna.

Simuna Parish School developed into the most important educational institution in preparing school masters in Northern Estonia, but many other professionals were also educated here. By 1863 the school had taught 247 children, including 31 school masters, 9 parish clerks, 5 bailiffs, 3 penmen, 4 granary keepers, 3 farmers and 180 country and town officials and Manor servants. There had been 12 girls among the pupils.

An alumnus of the Simuna School became famous in the air domain. Richard Tomberg, born in 1897 in Mõisamaa village, graduated the Military School of the bourgeois Estonia in 1923 and in 1926 the Higher Military School of France. During 1930-1940 he was the Estonian air defense Commander. In 1940 he was awarded the rank of Soviet Major General. During 1940-1941 he was the Commander of the Red Army's 180th Rifle Division, from 1942 to 1956 an instructor in the Frunze Military Academy.

At the same time Theodor Luts (born 1896), younger brother of the Estonian National writer Oskar Luts, was a pupil in Simuna School. Fellow Estonians know little of his life's work. After his studies at the University of Tartu, he worked as a fairly successful dance teacher. Having studied film in Paris and Berlin, he established the "Tartu Film Society” in 1927. From 1927-1932, he produced a series of films: "Young Eagles", "The Gallant Soldier Joosep Toots", " Young Soldier's First Day", "Do you know the land", "Gas! Gas! Gas!", "Ruhnu" and others under "Siirius-Film" and "Th. Luts Film production". In 1932 "Suomi Oy film" (“Finnish Film Corp.”) recruited him. Only four years later he was the main Cameraman in "Suomi Film" (“Finnish Film”). After World War II, Theodor Luts travelled to Brazil.


First reports of school libraries came from 1919. “Vaba maa” ("Free Land") wrote on June 19th 1919: "Simuna teachers’ union held a meeting on June 15th. The Parish children’s party report was approved and the income split evenly between the participating schools. Thus, in 14 Simuna Parish schools the basis for children’s libraries has been laid. Each school will report in the fall what books the children's party afforded its library."


During the 1920s-1930s amateur activities boosted. Rather demanding stage pieces were enacted. Let us take Käru village as an example of the amateur activities of the time. The forest village had, in a sense, an advantage in performing plays, because the popular stage person Hugo Laur was from Käru, and during summer holidays he helped out the youth of his native village with advice and support in every way possible. During 1928-1938 with the leadership and co-operation of Hugo Laur, the following pieces were learned: "Sons-In-Law", "The Demobilized Family Man", "The New Mikumärdi", "The Flowering Sea", "Andres and Pearu". During this period the Käru amateurs studied more than 40 spectacles that were performed in nine places 86 times.


On March 9th 1930 the Simuna Fire Brigade Brass Band and String Orchestra decided to unite into a symphonic orchestra (conductor H. Haiba). The same year, a modern cultural house building was started in Simuna.


The biggest event in the 1930s Simuna musical life turned out to be Simuna Song Day on June 20th 1937. 10 mixed choirs with 328 singers and 5 brass orchestras with 83 players took part. The table below lists the name of the participating choir, the number of singers and the conductor's name:



E. Raatma



K. Valdas



J. Martson



J. Martson



J. Ivask



E. Liiv

Salla- Tammiku


H. Ranne



E. Mälgi



R. Pärnik

Väike- Maarja


J. Aru

Brass bands:



H. Haiba



J. Martson



E. Aru



R. Spiegel



J. Kraustmann

During the Song Day the united mixed choirs were led by the Rakvere conductor Ernst Raatma and Simuna conductor Eduard Mälgi. Helmuth Haiba and Rudolf Spiegel directed the united orchestras. In the evening, "Ditch Grays" by Enn Vaigur was played in the Simuna Education Society hall.