Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Ants Rebane was a peasant who tilled a farm just north of Tartu, in the middle of Estonia. He had three sons, and only one of them, the oldest, could take over the land, so his third son, Villem, had to find other work and he decided to become a blacksmith. Villem had one son, August, who had greater interests than being a blacksmith. He liked school, and he liked to read. He liked music and attended concerts. He began to collect things like stamps and match books and ex libris (bookmarks). Eventually he went north to Tallinn to get an education and to seek his fortune. But that was a turbulent time, and he got involved in some political activities in the interest of a free Estonia, and this put him in harms way. He had learned a trade in the meantime, of typesetting, and took this with him to Helsinki, across the Gulf of Finland. There, at the Estonian House, he met a young lady whose spark and verve appealed to him, and soon Elviira and August were married. By 1910 they felt that it was safe to return to Estonia, and two years later, they had their first child, a girl named Aino, who was my mother.

August never had a picture of his father, so he drew a pencil sketch from memory. You can see his signature on the lower right corner.

Underneath the picture August had written the following,

which translates as

Villem Rebane, the son of Ants, smith at Lähte village, Äksi township, Tartu. Born 15 January 1851. Died 4 March 1915. Buried in Äksi cemetery.

We recently took a trip down south and found the Äksi chapel. It is one of the most beautiful chapels I have ever seen, stately and earnest and humble all at the same time. Besides, next to
it was a restaurant that served some pretty good lunch so my worldly needs were also met.

The cemetery is about two kilometers down the road from the chapel but we did not venture there to see if we could find Villem’s grave. It is enough to know that he is there, and to be able to tell him that his son did well in life, and that his granddaughter, who he never met, also had a full and eventful life, and that his great grandson was last seen poking around in his old neighborhood.

-- Aarne

1 comment:

rollingestonian5 said...

I love this entry.

Thanks, Bill