Culture / Famous persons of Väike-Maarja parish

Eesti Vabariik 100
Georg Lurich
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Famous persons of Väike-Maarja parish

Johan Elken (13. May 1851 - 17. Oct. 1931) worked from 1874 - 1913 as a teacher in Assamalla and spent his retirement years in Väike-Maarja. He was an eager activist in the period of the National Awakening: he collected and published folk melodies, wrote music for plays, composed songs, conducted successfully several choirs and was the chief conductor of song festivals of Virumaa. He published
nursery tales, poetry and "The History of the Schools in Väike-Maarja" in the press. In literary history he is also regarded as a member of the Parnassus. Predominant part of the journalistic reports about Väike-Maarja derive from him.

Johan Kotli (09. Aug. 1853 - 12. March 1940) came to Väike-Maarja in 1840, where he was chosen for the profession of precentor, the job he held until his death. J. Kotli was an eager organizer of the musical life, participated in other undertakings and collaborated with the press. In 1894 he organized a big concert at the foot of the Ebavere Hill, a so-called commemoration festival for the 75 years of liberty. Likewise, it was J. Kotli who initiated the idea of founding the Agricultural Association of Väike-Maarja.

Peeter Jakobson (27. Dec. 1854 - 23. July 1899) left Rakvere for Väike-Maarja in 1884, first working as a shoemaker and briefly as a bookseller, being the first working on that field here. Since 1887 he was a clerk for Põdrangu, Koonu and Ärina collective Farms.
In 1892 P.Jakobson belonged to the lines of the Parnassus. Collections of poems like "Flower Buds" and "Poems of P. Jakobson" I and II have appeared in print and several poems in the press. P.Jakobson wrote the plays "The Dawn and the Dusk" and "The King of Udumäe" on the material of Ebavere. Peeter Jakobson is buried at the old graveyard of Väike-Maarja, where in 1907, by the initiation of the editorial board of "Postimees", a tombstone with a cast-iron cross was erected for him.

Kaarel Krimm (28. July 1863 - 29. May 1894) came to Uniküla in 1884 to be a writer and a teacher of the manorial school. In the next year he became a teacher in Koonu-Ärina school and a community clerk. K. Krimm was the first author to use the folk tales of the Väike-Maarja surroundings in his works ("Lost Pelgulinn", a narrative in verse on the theme of Ebavere). K. Krimm left Väike-Maarja in 1889.

Jakob Tamm (7. May 1861-26. Dec. 1907) came to Väike-Maarja in 1893 to be the director of the parish school, remaining to this job until his death. He enhanced the teaching in the parish school to a distinguished level and stressed the importance of teaching literature, which has also been noted by A. H. Tammsaare. The most important part of his poetry and translations were accomplished in Väike-Maarja. In his works he used local material in large amount. Collections of poetry have appeared: "Awakened Voices", "Epic Ballads of Jakob Tamm", "Ballads and Fables" and "Collected Poems".
Jacob Tamm is buried at the old graveyard of Väike-Maarja.

Otto Münther (6. Aug. 1864 - 19. Feb. 1929) joined the Parnassus at the end of the 19th century. He came to Väike-Maarja, when he visited his brother in Alupere. In genre, choice of subject matter and materialistic ideas he differed from J. Tamm as well as from J. Liiv, which caused a few dissensions between them. His bond to the Parnassus broke off when after the revolution of 1905 he was forced to leave Estonia.

Mihkel Kampmaa (28. March 1867-30 Sept. 1943) came to Väike-Maarja in 1889. From 1889-1893 he was a precentor in Väike-Maarja and at the same time (1890-1892) a teacher in the parish school. M. Kampmaa has written reports, poems, translations and literary articles for newspapers. He has published a collection of poems "The Sounds of the Zither", books of popular science and schoolbooks. His most significant work is the "Main Features of the Estonian Literary History".

Villem Alttoa (31. Oct. 1898-13. June 1975) worked from 1921-1922 as a teacher in Koonu-Ärina primary school. After that he was a teacher in Kiltsi, Vao and then again in Kiltsi until 1926. V. Alttoa has published reviews, treatises and articles about literature, tales, memoirs and translations. He has compiled textbooks of the mother tongue and literary anthologies.

Johannes Hiiemets (3. Dec. 1904- 1941) was a minister in Väike-Maarja from 1930-1941 (except for 1936-1938). He has published biographies of fervent believers and works of religious colouring in other genres and a novel.
His works are "Assisi Franciscus", "Thascius Caecilus Cyprianus", "Aurelius Augustinius", "Martin Luther", "The Troublesome Days of Teacher Quandt" ( from the church history), "Celestial Jaan. A Story of a prophet of old-Roosa", etc.

Anton Hansen Tammsaare (30. Jan. 1878 - 1. March 1940) attended the parish school of Väike-Maarja from 1892-1894 and from 1896- 1897. According to the recollections of the schoolmates , the future writer was quiet, modest and helpful. He liked to read ( in spring, often early in the mornings, in the enclosure of the pastor's mansion), sometimes played the violin and took walks and wrote poetry in the graveyard. Sometimes, when J. Liiv visited the schoolhouse, Anton was also invited to the apartment of J. Tamm and then one could hear poetry reading through the door. A. H. Tammsaare has said, "In Väike-Maarja for the first time I got in touched with literature. Jakob Tamm led me there."

Peeter Koit (1857-1935) came in 1883, to be the director of the parish school of Väike-Maarja. The school was bankrupt because of the frequent change of the directors and teachers and a difficult economic situation. P. Koit quickly improved the situation of the school. He has published stories, plays, translations and poems. In the literary history he is regarded as one of the members of the Väike-Maarja Parnassus.
P. Koit left Väike-Maarja in 1892.

Kersti Merilaas (7. Dec. 1913-8. March 1986) lived near Äntu lakes and Kiltsi and in Kiltsi. She attended Kiltsi school and Väike-Maarja Co-educational Secondary School of Sciences. Her days spent in Väike-Maarja surroundings has been grippingly described in her longer poem "Childhood". From K. Merilaas several collections of poetry, stories and plays have appeared. Her mother and her sister, who died as a child, are buried at the old graveyard of Väike-Maarja (Moorberg on the tombstone).

Erich Meerja (7. Jan. 1931 - 13. juuni 2005) has been a meritorious library official in Väike-Maarja. He has published articles on research on his native place, stories of everyday life, lyrics and poems in the press. Collections of poems like "Retrospect" (1990), "Meteorological Observer" (1995), "The Call of the Hill"(1998) and "The Tinkling of a Sand-glass" (2001) have appeared in print.

Eduard Leppik (11. Oct. 1924) worked in Väike-Maarja Secondary School as a teacher of the Estonian language and literature from 1952-1978. While working as a teacher, he studied the local dialect and the cultural history and compiled object material. E. Leppik founded the school museum in 1969, from which the present Väike-Maarja Museum has been formed in 1986. The most important of the studies related to Väike-Maarja are "Culturally Historical Väike-Maarja", "Stories of Väike-Maarja", "The Agricultural Association of Väike-Maarja", "275 years of Co-educational School in Väike-Maarja", "The Musical Society of Väike-Maarja". As a researcher of the Estonian language, E. Leppik has over 30 years compiled place names and other lexical material. He is the owner of the biggest register of the linguistic material of all times in Estonia - about 120 000 word cards. E. Leppik has earned several awards: the Honoured Dialect Compiler of the Society of the Mother Tongue, the Honorary Member of the Society of the Mother Tongue, the Honorary Freeman of the Väike-Maarja Collective Farm, the laureate of the F. J. Wiedemann Language Prize, the Fifth Class Chevalier of the Estonian Service Medal, the owner of the Medal of the Estonian Fighters for Freedom from 1918-1998, etc.

Admiral Adam Johann von Krusenstern (19. Nov. 1770-14. Aug. 1846) was connected to the preparations of several sea expeditions. From 1816-1822 the scientist lived permanently in Kiltsi where his most important works were completed, including the "Atlas of the South Seas", that had been drafted based on the first Russian round-the-world voyage (1803-1806) led by the admiral. After a long-time pedagogical activities in the Corps of Cadets of the Naval Forces of St. Petersburg, he returned to Kiltsi, where he died in 1846. His remains were buried to the Cathedral of Tallinn. On the world map three islands, two capes, a hill and a strait and a group of rocks bear his name.

Paul Theodor von Krusenstern (1809-1881) was born in Tallinn as the first son of Adam Johann von Krusenstern. As a fourteen-year-old youngster he participated in his first around-the-world voyage, from 1826-1829 he took part in the other trip, where he gathered data about the Caroline Islands in the tropical waters. As the explorer of the northern and northeastern parts of Russia, he mapped the Gulfs of Tshukotka and Kamtshatka, the Anadõr Sea and the Aleutian Islands. The Vice-Admiral P. T. Von Krusenstern visited 12 unknown islands during his expeditions and described 26 islands or a group of islands and visited Petshora for 9 times. He died in Kiltsi and is buried at the Väike-Maarja churchyard.

Otto Paul von Krusenstern (1834-1871) was a frequent visitor to his grandfather's place in the Kiltsi Castle. Following the advice of his father, Paul Theodor von Krusenstern, he began in 1860 to explore Petshora. He made a trip by a ship named "Jermak" to the mouth of Yenisei. Although the ship broke on the trip, he collected new data about Petshora and the Kara Sea. As a consequence of cold he suffered from a malignant rheumatism. Already being sick he went to help with the icebound steamship. He got a cold, fell ill and died at the age of 37. He is buried at the Väike-Maarja churchyard at the burial ground of the family.

Georg Magnus Knüpffer (1785-1863) was a minister in Väike-Maarja from 1812-1852. In 1837 appeared his "Manual For the Sheepherders of Germany", which was the first Estonian zootechnic manual. He was one of the founders of the Learned Estonian Society and the co-worker of Eduard Ahrens.

Carl Theodor Knüpffer (1823-1871) was the minister of Väike-Maarja from 1852-1871. On the first song festival in Tartu in 1869, he delivered a conservative festival cermon, that also appeared in print. Regardless of the thoughts expressed in it, he became the initiator of the idea of reopening of the Väike-Maarja parish school. He could not realize it because of his death ( the school was opened in 1873).

Tuudur Vettik (4. Jan. 1898-20. May 1982) commenced his way of school in Avispea. In 1910 he went to Väike-Maarja parish school, where beside the studies he participated in all musical undertakings: he sang in choirs, played violin in an orchestra, etc. Still as a student of the parish school, he founded (1912) and conducted the male choir and the mixed chorus of the school. A year after the graduation of the parish school (1914) he entered Tartu Teachers College. After becoming a professional musician he hardly ever happened to visit Väike-Maarja.

Märt Meos (16. Jan. 1881-1. March 1966) was the director of the Väike-Maarja parish school from 1907-1919. His pedagogical activities were characterized by strictness, persistence, attempt to give the best knowledge and to advance the acquisition of the education in every way. Besides the high standard teaching, he played a significant role in the cultural history of Väike-Maarja: activation of the work of the agricultural association and building of the clubhouse (present village hall), management of the loan savings association, the gradual formation of the parish school into a secondary school, fight for the preservation of the school in Väike-Maarja, development and conducting of the choirs and orchestras, participation in many commissions.
From 1920-1944 (except for 1. Oct. 1940-1. Aug. 1941) he was the inspector of school in Virumaa. M. Meos has appreciable services in the development of the Estonian and Estonian-minded school system in the young Estonian Republic. During the Soviet times until 1957 he worked in Väike-Maarja and Simuna as the teacher of Russian. He died in Viljandi.

Georg Robert Lurich (22. Apr. 1870- 22. Jan. 1920) was born in Väike-Maarja in the building of the inn in Kaarma (present Georg's Dining Room and a shop in 16 Pikk Street). Georg Lurich , who was sickly when he entered the Secondary Scientific School of Tallinn and freed from gymnastics, following the lead of the others, started to train consistently and soon made progress. A fragile boy became the strongest man of the world. Moreover, he spoke 10 foreign languages, played well chess and the accordion, collected folk poetry in his youth, composed music and propagated sport and temperance. G. Lurich died in the city of Armavir in Caucasus.

Jakob Liiv (28. Feb. 1859-17. Jan. 1938) came to Avispea in 1880 to be a teacher. He worked in Avispea, Uniküla, Pandivere and again in Avispea. In 1901 he came to Väike-Maarja to keep the teahouse of the Temperance Trusteeship and built a house, where in 1904 he opened a bookshop. He wrote and staged plays, was an active member of a club, started the formation of the local literary club, a Parnassus. Besides him belonged there in different times P. Jakobson, J. Tamm, K. Krimm, O. Münther and M. Kampmaa and it was active from 1882-1907. From J. Liiv have appeared 10 collections of poems, 2 epic ballads, 7 narration´s and 4 plays, including "Gnome" on the theme of Ebavere. In 1913 J. Liiv moved to Rakvere.

* Parnassus - a mountain ridge of Central Greek, where the Muses have supposedly lived. The Parnassians - representatives of a literary movement in France in the II half of the 19th century; as a counter-movement to the Romantic lyricism they aimed at objectivity in poetry.

Alar Kotli (27. Aug. 1904-4. Oct. 1963) was a well-known architect of his time; besides the dwelling houses he also projected a number of beautiful public facilities (for instance, he was one of the chief architects in the project of the choir stand of Tallinn) and famous monuments. One of his first works were his parents' home in Väike-Maarja in 20 Pikk Street and an addition to the elementary school in 23 Pikk Street. In Rakvere he has designed the building of the secondary school (1 Vabaduse Street) and the Paul's Church (the sports building, 1 Võimla Street). A. Kotli is buried at the Metsakalmistu of Tallinn.

Eduard Wiiralt (20. March 1898-8. Jan. 1954) was the most distinguished graphic artist in Estonia. In his school days he was known as an eager drawer. Of the pencil drawings made in his youth in Varangu (1909-1918) have preserved "Landscape from Varangu", "The village school in Varangu", "Self-portrait With a Cigar", "Peasants at the Beer Table", "Grandfather Jüri Assur" and some portraits of his grandmother, his father and the peasants. E. Wiiralt quite seriously devoted himself to heavy athletics, for some time also under the guidance of Georg Lurich.

Johan Pitka (19. Feb. 1872- probably the end of Sept. 1944) was an Estonian soldier, politician and a rear admiral. He participated in the foundation of the Estonian national units of the army, the Self-Defence and the Defence Union and headed the formation of the navy. At the beginning of the Liberation War he organized armoured trains, in December 1918 he was designated a the foreman of the naval forces. He left the active service in Nov. 1919. He lived in Canada from 1924-1930. He was the director of the Estonian Consumers' Co-operative Central Federation. In 1937 he purchased a farmstead near the Ebavere Hill. He lived here in his days of rest and during the vacations. In 1944 he organized the last defence of Estonia. He probably fell in battle in Läänemaa. He has published his memories in print.

Famous people from Simuna

Lütke, Friedrich Benjamin (28.IX 1797 – 30.VIII 1882), a seafarer, a geographer, and an admiral (1855). Completed several round-the-world trips, explored the Arctic Ocean, Novaya Zemlya and the Far East. Three islands, two bays, a strait, a current, and eight other places bear his name. He was the president of St. Petersburg’s Academy of Sciences and the Russian Geographical Society. He bought Avanduse manor in the year 1845 and spent mostly his summers there.

Paucker, Carl Julius Albert (22.IV 1798 – 22.XI 1856), was born in Simuna pastorate; studied in Tartu, Göttingen and Jena – and obtained a doctorate in the latter two universities (law and philosophy); worked as a judge in Estonia and participated in the drafting of legislation; studied Estonian history in his spare time, and published local historical sources and works on Estonia’s history, genealogy and manors.

Normann, Villem (16.VIII 1812 – 19.II 1906), parish clerk and school teacher. He studied in Põlula, in Rakvere Primary School and Rakvere County School (Kreiskool); passed the teacher’s exam in Tallinn Parisch School in 1836. He founded a parish school in Simuna where he also worked until 1886 (later as a parish clerk until 1892). He also trained many local teachers at the school. He was active on several fronts: he was a chorister, textbook author, organiser of Simuna’s first Song Day in 1866, and he also published various works, which total in more than 30 publications.

Krickmann, Hans (22.IV 1846 – 26.X 1908), active in music life and as a collector of folklore. He was born in Peetsu farm in Käru, graduated from Simuna Parish School in 1866, was a teacher in Iila village school in Viru County from 1866 to 1900; spent his retirement years in his home village.

Zoege von Manteuffel, Werner Maximilian Friedrich (13.VII 1857 – 14.III 1926), a Baltic-German surgeon, doctor of medicine (1886), received a health major-general rank in the War of Independence. He was the son of Määri landlord, he graduated from the University of Tartu and worked there as a professor from 1899 to 1918. He became known as a successful vascular surgeon; he performed the first heart surgery in Russia and was the first one to start using rubber gloves. Kept a private praxis in Tallinn after the War of Independence.

Pinna (Adler until 1908), Nety (28.VI 1883 – 28.IV 1937), acress, the wife of Paul Pinna. She was the daughter of Jüri Adler, a blacksmith in Avanduse manor; she studied in Berlin at E. Reicher’s theatre course, performed in the theatre Estonia from 1906 to 1936 and in Estonian Drama Theatre from 1921 to 1922. She was known for portraying high society ladies. Her father has made the chain that surrounds the Russalka monument.

Kukk, Juhan (13.IV 1885 – 4.XII 1945 as a victim of Stalinism), a statesman and economic activist; studied in Käru, Väike-Maarja and Tartu, graduated from Riga Polytechnical Institute in the department of commerce. Was a member of the Estonian Province Assembly in 1917, a compiler of Estonia’s Manifesto of Independence, a minister in several governments from 1918 to 1921, President of the Riigikogu from 1921 to 1922, and Head of State from 1922 to 1923. He was the founder of Estonian joint activity movement.

Brehm-Jürgenson Paulaline Vilhelmine (7.II 1877 – 19.X 1941) was one of the first concert and oratorio singers (soprano) in Estonia. She was born in Järva-Jaani parish, lived in Nadalama village as of 1888 where her father was a known teacher and chorister; studied with her father and in Väike-Maarja parish school, studied singing in Dresden and Berlin. She performed the work of Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein, Bellini and others; also included were Estonian composers such as Tobias, Saar and Lätte. She also performed abroad. She participated in the Estonian National Movement by belonging to the Estonian Society of Education.

Laur, Hugo (20.III 1893 – 30.XII 1977), actor, was born in Maikoja forest-keeper’s farm in Käru, studied in Käru, Laiuse, and H. Treffner Gymnasium; also studied architecture in Riga. He initially worked as an architect and later as an actor in Estonia Theatre from 1918 to 1919 and in Estonian Drama Theatre from 1919 to 1965.

Pajula, Kuno (11.III 1924 in Käru), a man of God, graduated from Väike-Maarja Gymnasium in 1942 and the Theological Institute of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1950. He studied in Göttingen, worked as a pastor in several places, was the archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church from 1987 to 1994.

Suuman(n), Aleksander (25.IV 1927 – 18.IV 2003), a poet and a painter. He was born Luhe farm near Simuna, studied in Simuna and Väike-Maarja, graduated from the Institute of Arts in the field of painting, initially worked as a drawing teacher and in 1958, became a instructor in Tartu School of Arts. He has published poetry collections, which often included references to Simuna and his home village.

Krikmann, Arvo (21.VII 1939 in Pudivere, Avanduse rural municipality), a folklore scientist, studied in Pudivere, Simuna and Väike-Maarja, graduated from the University of Tartu as an Estonian filologist in 1962. He worked in several scientific institutions, became a doctor of philosophy in 1998 and now works as such in the Museum of Literature and in the University of Tartu. He has published several scientific works on the short forms of folklore, one of the chief works being Estonian Proverbs.