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Võuküla Village

Võuküla Village, also Võukülä, is located in Põlva County, in Räpina Rural Municipality. Võuküla Village covers an area of 9.54 km2 (3.59 % of the total area of Räpina Rural Municipality), and it is located on both banks of the Võhandu River. According to the rural municipality register there are 72 people living in Võuküla Village (as of 1 August 2012). Twenty-one households are in use all year round (as of 2006).

Võuküla got its name after the Võhandu, also Voo or Võu, River. The village was first mentioned in 1582, when the name was spelt Woia and there were only seven farms in the village.

One of the best known sites in Võuküla is its hill of ancient settlement called Kindralihaud (the grave of the general). The hill is located approximately a kilometre downstream from the heart of Võhandu, on its high left bank. The yard of the stronghold has been surrounded by a semi-arched wall and is adjoined from the river-side by the fallen precipice of the Võhandu River. Based on its appearance, scientists have dated the stronghold to the start of the second millennium and they find it is more likely that it was used as a Viking-era small stronghold rather than a late Iron Age protective building, since the soil layer is thin or nearly non-existent. Old people tell of a Swedish general, Kolberg, who has been buried in the hill. They also say he was buried there together with his powerful golden sword. According to another story, on the night of Whitsun, at midnight exactly, the earth will move and one will be shown the way to a large fortune.

Jaan Vahtra wrote in 1937, in his book “Metsajärve” about his Võu-uncle, or his father’s brother in Võuküla Village. His name was Kaarli Konsand; in Võuküla they called him Kondsa-Kaarel. He had worked as a solder in Russia for twenty five years and had been to war in Turkey. He was able to speak foreign languages, had been to half the places in the world and had many books.

It is known that in 1815 there was a village school in Võuküla. The school master was a local man named Jakob Konsa. According to a number of students, Võuküla School was, with its 136 children, the largest village school in Räpina Rural Municipality in 1848. Tõnu Zerna remembers a story his father told him: “One day, Peedo Zernask, born in 1810, was ploughing the field when the landlord passed by, stopped his horse and asked Peedo: Can you read? Peedo said, Yes, I can! – Can you calculate? – Yes, I can! – Can you sing? – Yes, I can! To prove that, Peedo took his hat off and sang a church song. The landlord said: Next winter you will teach in our school.” In 1939, Võuküla School was moved to the house of Hakmann, near the Ruusa rail road station. After a few years it was renamed the Ruusa School.

One well-known man in Võuküla Village was Johannes Mälton, who was born on 8 September 1881, trained to become a doctor and practiced as a Võru County doctor from 1912. He was the chairman of the Võru Doctors Society from 1928, as well as the associate director of the Health Service and Social Work Office of the Ministry of Social Affairs during the first Republic of Estonia and a member of the National Air Defence Commission. In 1921, Mälton was awarded the III honorary decoration of the Estonian Red Cross, in 1927, the same for the II level of the II stage, and in 1938 the III class White Star order.

Kuusiku farm is the birth place of composer, pianist and painter Malle Mägi. Her parents, Joosep and Mari, left their farm, Sulsi, to their children and bought another farm, Kuusiku, “on the slough”; where, on 15 November 1904, a fourth child was born into the family of Hindrik Suurmann. She was named Marie Magdalene Suurmann, but was known as Malle Mägi. She studied piano in the Tallinn Conservatory under maestro Artur Lemba, and in 1943 she continued her studies in Vienna and in Berlin. She did return to Estonia, but was forced to retreat back to the West from the approaching front. Malle Mägi continued her studies in painting and music in America. Her doctoral dissertation covered the issue of the structure of Estonian national melodies and their connection with the original text. She spent many beautiful moments painting. On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the founding of the United States, a painting by Malle Mägi, named Drummer John, was presented to President of the United States Gerald R. Ford. It pictured John Schallbrick, one of the first Estonian persons known to have come to America in 1654. In the 1990s, Mrs Mägi visited the land of her youth in Räpina Rural Municipality many times, she also went to Kanasaare and “on the slough” in Võuküla. A research paper has been written about Malle Mägi by Lehvi Samuel, whose grandfather was Malle’s father’s brother. The last to live in the Kuusiku farm house were Mart Pari or Martin Peedosk with his wife. By now the old buildings have been demolished.

There is also another musician who hails from Võuküla. In the Kalti farm, now home to Tiia Tarassov and her family, Sulev Kald, a conductor and music teacher, was born on 22 October 1924. He graduated from the Tartu Musical School in the class of Richard Ritsing and continued his studies in Moscow. He worked as a conductor and a music teacher in Võru and in Tartu, was the general organiser of youth song festivals, and also wrote choir and solo songs.

In the beginning of the 1990s, Mae Raudsepp came back to Võuküla from Tartu and started developing tourism in the area at Kalda farm, her uncle Edgar Kald’s farm. The energetic lady with management experience from production association Almeta was able to implement the place well and there was never a lack of visitors. There were more than ten studs, ponies, sheep and many fowl on the farm. All together about three hundred animals. A speedy and tragic end came to the tourism farm on a criminal night in November 2004, when a farm hand murdered the lady of the house.