Superstitions of German-Russians, List of

Last Update 31 Oct  2002

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witch, bat, cat

Stories of Supernatural, Superstitions and Witchcraft told by Borodinoians, their Ancestors and their Descendants:


One of my favorites as told to us by our grandfather Ludwig Hein who was born in Borodino / Bessarabia in 1885.

It was always late in the evening when my grandfather would begin the story:

Headless Horseman of Cannon Hills

as told by Ludwig Michaelovich Hein to Judy A. Remmick-Hubert  [his granddaughter]

Copyrighted 1986

Sometimes, at  the stroke of midnight appeared the headless horseman who guarded the old Cannon Hills that surrounded our [German-Russian] village of Borodino [Bessarabia]. This story was told to me by my father who heard it from his father that the headless horseman had been a great warrior who had died in a great battle by losing his head to the enemy just before his countryman had won the battle.

As his head lay upon the bloody earth he watched his body riding away upon his black stallion . Moments later the mighty black stallion soon lay dead with his master's body still with the huge black beast. In days and weeks that passed, the warrior's head, body and horse and all the other dead were buried in a great mound.  Because it was the custom to bury the treasures of a dead warrior, a great deal of gold, silver and other treasures from the booty of previous battles lay with the buried dead under the earth far enough so animals wouldn't dig up and eat the rotting flesh.

Years later,  it was told that a foreigner came upon this great mound and thought to dig up what treasures he could find and sell it at the market place in a village which is, now, known as Odessa.  So,  he began to dig and found a magnificent jeweled sword which was still attached to the bones of a warrior's hand.  As this grave robber tried to pull the bones free of the sword, he found he could not.  To gain more leverage, he stood and pulled upward but the bonney hand still would not release the sword.  This grave robber was not superstitious nor did he care about the grave site being sacred. The grave robber only thought of the money he could gain by having the magnificent sword.  So,  he went to his horse, tied a rope to his horse's trappings and then went back to the sword and so the grave robber tied the rope around the sword then went back to his horse and proceeded to have the strength of his horse pull the sword free. He urged his horse forward as he greedily smiled and turned his head and eyes back toward the sword.... Much to his surprise,  the sword did not pull free but the sword remained in the bonney hand and along with it came an arm,  then a shoulder... And then it happened.  A cold cold gust of wind whipped up around the mound and gathered the dust and it whirled toward the grave robber, his horse and the sword with the bonney hand, the arm, shoulder and part of the body to which clung his uniform.......  Now,  the grave robber could see the corpse was headless....  The next thing he knew,  he was engulfed with the whirl of dust which blinded him.  His own horse shriek in fear and rose her forelegs high into the air....  The grave robber's horse then bolted away..... As the grave robber blinked his eyes so he could see, and as he did so he barely could see the severed rope lying at his feet and then he looked up.... Before him was huge black horse with a headless rider  who wheeling the sword which the grave robber had hoped to take as his own. The grave robber realized he was in danger and just in time jumped out of the way of the charging black horse and the sword which  "hisssssssssss"  past the grave rober's right ear.  The grave robber ran as hard and as fast as he could away from the burial mound..... He ran faster than he had ever thought he could.  His heart was beating violently in his chest which he feared was going to burst..  He dare not look around for he could hear the pounding of the horse's hooves in the soft dirt behind him and it was coming closer and closer.... He could feel the heat of the horse's breath upon his neck....He heard the "hissssssss" of the sword as he missed his right ear..... He heard the "swisssssssssssh" as the sword missed his left ear.  He heard another "swissssssh......  Then everything went black.

The grave robber was more dead than alive when he was found near the road that lead to the town, know, now, as Kischnev...

The grave robber told his tale after he recovered from his ordeal.

Through the years,  the story has been repeated.  And,  from time to time, a stranger may take it into his head to dig for that same lost treasure in that same old burial mound, only to find that the headless warrior still guards his fallen comrades and their treasures.

Many many years later when my forefather's arrived at the village known as Soak, a deserted Turkish village  nestled in the old Cannon Hills where the headless warrior still was still seen from time to time.  My forefeathers heard that a man could get rich if they dug into an the old burial grounds not far from the village as well as the story about the headless warrior.  Each of these men, as well as myself, have never ventured for treasures from the sacred mounds, however, we have seen from a safe distance the shadowy figure of the headless warrior roaming the hills looking for anyone who dare think of robbing his fallen comrades.

And,  just as my father and his father claimed, when the cock crowed at day break, the headless warrior faded.  Where the headless horseman  goes in the daylight hours no one knows for certain, but,  it is certain, he returns each night to guard his comrades and their treasure.

The End



It wasn't until the early 1980s that I read the facts about the same headless horseman in a book about Borodino by a Hager cousin.  Evidently the tale was based on an old Turkish tale about a ghost of a Turkish Knight who with his sword and shield protected the golden treasures between the peaks of the Cannon Hills near Borodino from the hours of Midnight to the first crow of the cock.

Cannon Hills was so named because of all the old cannon's found in these old rounded hills.

I'm not sure what battle may have been fought here or when.  I suspect it must have been about the time Alexander "the Good" c. 1408 built the old Turkish-Moldavian Castle of Hotin

The Turks, however, may not  have created this old legend, but, had heard this same tale from a Roman grave robber since Hotin Castle was built over an old Roman stronghold.

Not far from Hotin Castle can be found the the Trajan wall built  through Bessarabia and therefore must have Trajan battles with their enemies in A.D. c. 53 to 117 in these same Cannon Hills. These victories gave this area to Rome.  

Since the Romans didn't have cannons, which was an invention later [first one in the 12 th century], Cannon Hills then they were name by the Turks  before 1812 when  the Russians conquered the area from the Turks. If the tale about the headless horseman came before or after the naming of Cannon Hills,  I can not know.

The seaport city of Odessa and Kishinev hold ancients ties into this area's past.  Under the ownership of the Turks the seaport town was known as Khadzhibei who had built it near the seaport town of Ordessus so named by the Sarmatians who in the 3 B.C.  who had been driven eastward by the Germans. I do not know if there was a village in the times if was under the Romans or Greeks who came before, but it's location makes it seem there was.

Go to the page which hold important dates from pre-Roman to 1991.