Thursday, February 24, 2011

LaGrange, Texas - February 20, 2011

While stopped at a traffic light in LaGrange, Texas, on our way to Goliad, a pickup pulled up next to us. The driver signaled me to roll down my window. He then informed me that the front Maxi vent on our trailer was loose. After thanking him, I began searching for a place to stop to check the condition of the vent. I then remembered Monument Hill and its little park-like area.

LaGrange is located in the Colorado River valley. The south bank of the river is noted for its high bluff overlooking the river.

Colorado River Valley from Monument Hill, La Grange, Texas
  After crossing the river, the drive up the south bluff curves back and forth past beautiful homes built onto the slopes. At the very top, the road to Monument Hill branches to the west.

Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery is a 40 acre park, and is part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife park system. Monument Hill is the location of a tomb containing the remains of victims of the 1842 Dawson Massacre and the 1843 “Black Bean Death Lottery” execution.  The Dawson Massacre was a result of an attack on San Antonio on September 11, 1842, led by Mexican General Adrian Woll. Nicholas Mosby Dawson recruited 54 men, most from the LaGrange area, to attack Woll; however, 36 of these men were killed in a battle with a much larger Mexican force. Of the 18 survivors, 3 escaped, but the remaining 15 were marched over 1,000 miles to Perote Prison near Vera Cruz in southern Mexico.

Later that year, over 300 Texans set out to avenge the Dawson Massacre and attacked Ciudad Mier along the Texas/Mexico border. 250 Texans from this force were captured. Although 181 were able to escape, 176 of these were quickly recaptured. Santa Anna ordered all of them to be executed, but diplomatic efforts from the United States and Great Britain led to a compromise known as the Black Bean Death Lottery. 159 white beans and 17 black beans were placed in a pot, and the prisoners were forced to draw. Those who drew the black beans were executed and the others were sent to Perote Prison to join the survivors of the Dawson Massacre.

Remains of the executed men were exhumed by Americans during the Mexican War in 1847 and returned to Texas and buried at the site atop Monument Hill. In 1848, remains of the volunteers who died at Salado Creek (Dawson Massacre) were also placed in this common tomb atop Monument Hill.

Monument to victims of Black Bean Lottery and Dawson Massacre
In 1849, German immigrant Heinrich Kreische purchased 172 acres on the bluff on the south bank of the Colorado River, including the land where the Dawson/Mier tomb is located. Kreische  built a 3 story house atop the bluff for his growing family.
In 1860, Kreische began building a brewery near a spring on his property. He soon was producing Kreische’s Bluff Beer. By 1879, Kreische Brewery was the third largest brewery in Texas. Kreische died in a work related accident in 1882, and the brewery failed soon afterward.

Remains of Kreische Brewery, La Grange, Texas
This is a beautiful little park. There is no admission fee, and this makes it a great stop when passing through LaGrange. Plan to spend an hour to walk the grounds. There is a lot of history to be discovered here.

No comments:

Post a Comment