Beer and Black Beans…Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery State Historic Sites, LaGrange, Fayette County, Texas

Have you ever heard of the Mier Expedition or the Black Bean Incident?

This obscure piece of Texas history is not even known by a lot of Texans. After the Treaty of Velasco ended the Texas Revolution and created the Republic of Texas the dispute with Mexico continued. Seems there was a disagreement about which river the treaty meant, the Rio Grande as the Texans believed or the Nueces (new-aces) which Mexico claimed was right. So, the lands between the rivers were still being disputed in 1842.

At the 1842 battle of Salado a Texan militia under Nicholas Dawson was defeated or captured in what Texans considered the Dawson Massacre.

The Somervell Expedition was formed as a retaliatory raid into Mexico after these Mexican shenanigans against Texas. After a successful raid became hazardous, leader Alexander Somervell ordered his men back to San Antonio. but a group of disappointed Texans continued on against orders and the Mier Expedition was born.

The Mier Expedition of the 308 men set out to avenge The Dawson Massacre. In the Battle of Mier 243 Texans were taken as prisoners and marched towards Mexico City. 171 of these Texans escaped but were recaptured when they ran out of food and water in the Mexican desert. Santa Ana who had returned to power, ordered that they all be executed. Through diplomacy between the United States, Great Britain and Mexico it was decided that only 1 out of 10 would die. So to determine who the unlucky would be, they were forced to draw beans from a pot that contained only 17 black beans of the 171 beans in the pot. This is known today as the “Black Bean Incident”. The bodies of those seventeen who were executed were recovered during the Mexican American War and eventually brought to Monument Hill. Here a mass grave of the victims of the Dawson and Mier Massacres is located. Why here? Nicholas Dawson was from LaGrange.

This brings up the legend of Sam Walker a Texas Ranger. I know I know the TV show.

Sam Walker was an actual Texas Ranger, (no relation to Cordell Walker of the TV show), and was captured during the Mier expedition. While imprisoned at Perote Prison, Texas legend says the prisoners were forced to erect a flagpole. While doing this Sam Walker buried a Yankee coin at the base, swearing that one day the flag of the Lonestar Republic would fly over Perote. He also swore he would recover the coin. Walker finally escaped Perote and made his way back to Texas. Fast forward to 1847 and the start of the Mexican-American War.

Walker was commissioned as a captain in the U.S. Mounted Rifles. He was given the authority to recruit ,train and lead a Calvary Regiment. They reported to General Winfield Scott at Veracruz Mexico and began fighting their way inland to Perote. The legend then says that Walker retrieved his coin and hoisted the Texas Flag above Perote Prison as he promised. Walker was killed in a succeeding battle at Huamantla.

Why is this legend and not fact. Well Walker kept a journal. In it he is imprisoned at Tacubaya Prison in Mexico City. Here he was forced to build roads in a work gang and to add insult to injury the road being built was to Santa Ana’s private villa. Walker did escape from Tacubaya Prison after two years and found his way back to Texas. He did fight his way through Mexico with Winfield Scott and Perote Prison was sacked, the prisoners released and the prison was turned into an American fort.

Sam Walker went to New York and working with Samuel Colt helped develop a six shot gun.

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The Walker Colt Revolver was named after Sam Walker.

tomb of the 17 victims of the Black Bean Incident.

There wasn’t a lot of hiking at Monument Hill maybe a couple of miles. I started out first at the other historic site here, the Kreische Brewery. Heinrich Kreische was a German stonemason and brewer. His brewery became the third largest in Texas.

Although he bought the property in 1849 Kriesche didn’t begin the brewery until 1860. He built it in a ravine on his property so that he could use the natural flow of a spring there for his brewing process.

Ruins of the Heinrich Kreische Brewery
Kreische Brewery ruins

After viewing the Brewery ruins I headed up the Scenic Overlook Trail. This trail had switchbacks for a while but soon you had to just gut it out up an old road.

View towards LaGrange Texas
Colorado River at Monument Hill

Henrich Kreische had a wagon accident on the property in 1882 while driving from his home down the hill to the brewery. As you topped the hill on the switchbacks there was a sharp bend in the road. This was where the accident reportedly happened. As you gut your way up the steepest part of Monument Hill on the road you soon come to Heinrich Kreische’s home.

The death of Heinrich Kreische was a disaster to the property. He had purchased the area after the monument was established so he maintained the area and kept the vandals and thieves at bay. Without Kreische the brewery soon closed and the monument became increasingly vandalized. After various requests by the family to relocate the monument off the property the state condemned a little more than a quarter acre and took control of the site. In 1949 Texas built today’s Monument at the site. The remains of the Brewery and Kreische property were added in 1977.

Home of Heinrich Kreische

Continuing past the house the trail tops Monument Hill at a tall monument.

Monument to those who gave their lives in the Dawson Massacre and the Black Bean Incident

Although the hike was short there was so much history of my new state learned on this adventure.

The Colorado river from the Oakville Escarpment

One thought on “Beer and Black Beans…Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery State Historic Sites, LaGrange, Fayette County, Texas

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