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MONUMENT HILL-KREISCHE BREWERY STATE HISTORIC SITE

MONUMENT HILL-KREISCHE BREWERY STATE HISTORIC SITE. The Monument Hill-Kreische Brewery State Historic Site is located near U.S. Highway 77 on a high bluff on the south side of the Colorado River a mile south of La Grange in central Fayette County. In 1848 the site was chosen as a cemetery for the Texans who died in the Dawson Massacre of 1842, for the dead of the Texan Santa Fe and Mier expeditions,qqv and for those captured during Gen. Adrián Woll's raid on San Antonio. A small tomb was built overlooking the river, and on September 18, 1848, the remains were buried there with full military honors in a ceremony attended by Sam Houston and other dignitaries.

In January 1849 an immigrant from Saxony named Heinrich L. Kreische bought the 172 acres on the bluff, which included the gravesite. He built a substantial home, a barn, and a smokehouse. In 1850 he agreed to donate the tomb and ten acres surrounding it to the Texas Monumental Committee in Fayette County for $100, provided that the committee would begin work on a suitable monument within fifteen years. No money was raised for a monument, however, and the land reverted to Kreische. In 1860 he built a three-story building into the side of the bluff for one of the first commercial breweries in Texas. It became the primary source of income for the family and by the time of Kreische's death in 1882 was a prosperous enterprise. Without Kreische's leadership the business failed, and the building was abandoned.

Kreische's heirs made many requests to the state for the removal of the tomb and its contents because it attracted vandalism. In 1907, rather than remove the tomb, the state condemned a .36-acre tract of land surrounding it. Unfortunately, there were no attempts either to repair existing damage or to protect the site from future misuse. In 1931 Louis W. Kemp, a member of the Texas State Historical Association, visited the site and, upset by what he found, told local reporters that he would try to have the remains moved to the State Cemetery in Austin, where they could be accorded proper respect. Local members of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, fearful of losing the shrine, cleared the area, erected a fence, and signed a contract for a new granite vault to enclose the original. On September 18, 1933, the ninety-first anniversary of the Dawson Massacre, the new vault was dedicated, and during the Texas Centennial celebration in 1936 the state erected an additional monument. In 1949 the Board of Control transferred the site to the Parks Department.

In 1956 the citizens of Fayette County purchased 3.58 acres of the surrounding land and donated it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Meanwhile, private interests had purchased much of the surrounding Kreische land with the intention of developing a tourist attraction on the bluff and at the site of the ruined brewery. When part of this plan failed in 1977, the state acquired thirty-six acres surrounding the monument, including the Kreische home and brewery sites, and designated them a part of the state park system. By 1989 the two sites were operated jointly, and the 40.4-acre park provided hiking, picnicking, and an interpretive center that told the stories of both the monument and the beginnings of the Texas brewing industry.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Alton A. Appelt, The Story of the Kreische Family, 1849–1952 (Yoakum, Texas: Yoakum Herald Times, 1967). L. A. Duewall, The Story of Monument Hill (La Grange, Texas: La Grange Journal, 1955). June Rayfield Welch, Historic Sites of Texas (Dallas: G.L.A., 1972).

Jeff Carroll

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Jeff Carroll, "MONUMENT HILL-KREISCHE BREWERY STATE HISTORIC SITE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ghm02), accessed October 01, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.