Monument Hill & Kreische Brewery State Historic Site Information:
In 1848, the remains of the Texans killed in the Dawson Massacre and Black Bean Death Lottery were retrieved from their original burial sites and on September 18, 1848, were reinterred in a common tomb within a sandstone vault on Monument Hill in La Grange, Texas. In 1849, German immigrant Heinrich Ludwig Kreische purchased 172 acres of land which included the Monument Hill tomb. He built a three story house, and added the brewery in 1860. By 1879, the brewery was the third largest operating brewery in Texas. Kreische’s main product was “Kreische’s Bluff Beer.” Kreische maintained the tomb until his death in 1882. After his death, the tomb fell in disrepair. The brewery closed in 1884. Because the tomb was frequently vandalized, the Kreische family requested several times to have the tomb removed from the property. In 1905, the Texas legislature authorized the acquisition of the tomb and 0.36 acres. In 1936, theTexas Centennial Commission erected a 48 foot tall shell stone monument with an art deco mural to prominently mark the mass grave. The bronze angel guarding the crypt was sculpted by a famous Franco-American sculptor.In 1949, the tomb site was transferred to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In 1956, the Archbishop of San Antonio and the citizens of Fayette County deeded 3.58 acres to the site, and in 1977, the 36 acre Kreische Brewery and Kreische Home sites were added. The park opened to the public in 1983. Monument Hill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Tours of both sites are available at scheduled times and by special arrangement.Site admission is free. This historic site is located at 414 State Loop 92, La Grange, Texas. For more complete park information, read the Park Brochure
and watch the Park Video
Dawson Massacre, September17, 1842:
In April 1836, the Republic of Texas beat the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto. Following this battle, Texas claimed the Rio Grande as its southern border, but had insufficient military power to control the land south of the Nueces River. General Santa Anna, the ruler of Mexico, signed the Treaties of Velasco, but the Mexican government never ratified the treaties. Santa Anna repudiated the treaties once he was released from prison. Because of this, the Mexican forces and Cherokee guerillas under Vincente Cordova and Chicken Trotter continued to resist Texan attempts to occupy the area between the Rio Grande and the Nueces River. On September 11, 1842, a Mexican force entered San Antonio and took control of the city. On hearing the news, Mathew Caldwell formed a militia of 225 men and marched toward San Antonio. They camped at Salado Creek and formulated battle plans. Meanwhile, Nicholas Mosby Dawson led a separate company of 54 Texans who were mostly from Fayette County, and began advancing on the rear of the Mexican Army. This led the Mexican commander to send 400 to 500 troops and a couple of cannons to intercept him. In the ensuing battle, Dawson and 35 of his men were killed. The morning after the battle, Mathew Caldwell’s troops located the Dawson Battleground and buried the dead Texans in shallow graves.
Somervell Expedition, December, 1842:
The Somervell Expedition was ordered by Sam Houston as a punitive measure following the Mexican raids on San Antonio. After capturing Laredo, a third of the troops returned home leaving the expedition with insufficient men to continue. Because they were also short of supplies, Somervell ordered his men to disband and return home.
Mier Expedition & Somervell Men, December, 1842:
Approximately 300 men of the Somervell expedition elected to ignore Somervell’s order to disband, and decided to continue on in what became known as the Mier Expedition. On December 23, 1842, the men entered the city of Mier without opposition and demanded much needed supplies. The town agreed to deliver them so the Texans withdrew, but Mexican General Pedro Ampudia’s arrival in town prevented the delivery. On December 25th
, the Texans reentered the town and engaged the much larger and better equipped Mexican force in a battle which the Texans ultimately lost. The Texans were held prisoner in the town of Matamoros, Mexico until they were ordered moved to Mexico City. On February 11, 1843, they escaped in Salado; 176 men were recaptured with a week.
The Black Bean Episode, March 25, 1843:
General Santa Ana initially ordered the execution of the 176 recaptured Texans, but he later rescinded that order and instead decreed that 1 out of every 10 men were to be executed. The victims were chosen by lottery. Each man was to draw a bean from an earthen jar containing 176 beans which included 159 white beans and 17 black beans; those drawing black beans were executed at dusk on March 25, 1843.
Monument Hill, September 18, 1848:
The remains of the Texans killed in the Dawson Massacre and Black Bean Death Lottery were retrieved from their original burial sites and on September 18, 1848, were reinterred in a common tomb within a sandstone vault on Monument Hill overlooking the Colorado River> Over 1,000 people attended the ceremony, including Sam Houston.
The Colorado River is the largest of the rivers that exist wholly in Texas. The river rises in intermittent draws in northeastern Dawson County and flows generally southeastward for 600 miles before it bends to the east across southern Burnet County and continues its southeastern course across Travis, Bastrop, Payette, Colorado, Wharton, and Matagorda Counties to its mouth on Matagorda Bay near Palacios, Texas. Major towns on its route include Austin, Lamesa, Colorado City, Robert Lee, Ballinger, Paint Rock, Marble Falls, Bastrop, Smithville, La Grange, Columbus, Wharton, Bay City and Matagorda. Important reservoirs (lakes) on the Colorado include Lake J.B. Thomas, E.V. Spence Reservoir, Buchanan Lake, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, Lake Austin, and Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake) in Austin; the latter 7 lakes are known as the Highland Lakes. Early in the 19th
century the river’s slow current caused the formation of a raft, or a log jam, which gradually grew upstream so that the river was navigable in 1839 for only ten miles above its mouth. By 1858 the situation in Matagorda and Wharton counties had become so bad that the state appropriated funds for the construction of a new channel around the raft; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the channel in the mid-1800s, but it was not maintained so the raft filled it up. After the Civil War the Colorado ceased to be a factor in transportation. The delta that developed after removal of the log jam in 1925, reached across Matagorda Bay as far as Matagorda Peninsula by 1936. In 1936 a channel was dredged through the new delta from the Gulf of Mexico to the town of Matagorda, thus forcing the river to deposit its flotsam and sediment directly into the Gulf. With the removal of the raft, the seaport town of Matagorda gradually became landlocked. The present Caney Creek channel was the original channel of the Colorado River until approximately a thousand years ago. The Lower, Central, and Upper Colorado River Authorities are the three agencies that oversee the conservation of and use of the Colorado River. Fish Stocking History
Monument Hill & Kreische Brewery State Historic Site Directions:
From downtown LaGrange, take SH 77 south across the Colorado River and then go west on Spur 92 for 0.4 miles to the park.