Footprints of Fayette

A Historical Column From The Fayette County
Historical Commission and Fayette County Judge’s Office

Kreische & the Tomb – Part II
By Charles Hebert

On May 17, 1872, there was a newspaper announcement stating that “The Allemania Brass Band” would be having a dance to benefit “the reparation of the Monument on the Bluff.” The event was held on May 19, but not before the Allemania took issue with Kreische referring to the bluff as “Kreisher’s Bluff,” calling it “Human nonsense” and more or less admonishing him, while at the same time thanking him for his due diligence for maintaining the tomb over the years at no cost to the state. Kreische’s untimely death in March 1882 should have settled the disputes, but not so.
“LET US BE UP AND DOING” read the headline from The Dawson-Eastland Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in the Oct. 20, 1904 issue of The La Grange Journal. The focus of the article concentrated on the legal aspects and rights of The General Society of The Daughters of the Republic and its charter under the laws of the state – that the “association may have, hold or purchase, grant, gift or otherwise, real estate on which battles for the independence of Texas were fought, such monuments as may be erected thereon, and burial grounds where the dead who fought and died for Texas Independence are buried. It obviates the necessity of special legislation; it saves time, expense and trouble.”
Mrs. Josepha Kreische addressed the controversy in an open letter to The La Grange Journal on Nov. 4, 1904, reiterating the agreement the Monument Committee had made with her husband and admonishing that after 15 years nothing was done. She noted how “Things have changed greatly over the past thirty years; a road now runs by the vault of the Dawson men and there is a Schutzen Park with a beer garden and dancing within a few feet of the vault. Grave yards and beer gardens in one and the same yard together does not look well.”
Vandalism of the tomb was widespread as trespassers took bones from the tomb despite the efforts of Mrs. Kreische who constructed a barbed wire fence around the tomb to no avail as the “vandals go in anyway.” Mrs. Kreische, frustrated by the interference, openly displayed her displeasure with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and accused them of “…trying to force her to sell a piece of the land in the midst of my homestead, in front of my dwelling, and to remove the monument of the Mier prisoners from the court house park thereon.” She concluded, “No my dear ladies, my home is as dear and sacred to me as is the noble and worthy cause to erect a monument from the fallen heroes, to you. Nobody would part with a piece of ground, having improvements all around his home. It is folly to class the Bluff in line with San Jacinto, the Alamo and Goliad, there is grand difference – yes very.” Josepha Kreische died in January 1906, and with her passing she bequeathed in her will that the property should pass to her oldest son, Henry Louis, to defend their legacy. 
On June 24, 1907, the state acquired the Monument Hill tomb and 0.36 acres. In 1931, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas built a wrought iron fence around the tomb, and in May 1933, Monument Hill became a state park. A new granite vault that was placed over the original tomb was dedicated on Sept. 18 of that same year. A 48-foot shell stone monument with an art deco mural was erected as a memorial in 1936 at the time of the Texas Centennial. 
Julia Kreische, the youngest child of Heinrich and Josepha Kreische and last surviving heir, died in 1952, leaving the family estate to the Hostyn Catholic Church. Julia was so bitter with the transgressions to her property that she threatened at one time to “throw the bones over the bluff.”
Sources:
Abolafia-Rosenzweig, Mark. The Dawson and Mier Expeditions and Their Place in Texas History; September 1986
Texas Parks & Wildlife Docent Manual for Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery State Historic Sites, Chapter 7
Texas Vorwarts; March 18, March 25 & April 11, 1871
The La Grange Journal; Oct. 20, & Nov. 3, 1904