|This page will feature notable
personalities of the past who
lived in Schuylkill Haven.
ROY H. GUERTLER
Roy H. Guertler was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Guertler of Schuylkill Haven. He was a 1924 graduate of
Schuylkill Haven High School and a 1928 graduate of West Point. He was the first Schuylkill Haven boy to
graduate from West Point and when he returned from graduation, a large parade was staged in his honor. A
formal reception was held in the high school auditorium. The town of Schuylkill Haven presented a watch to
Guertler. The Hamilton piece is inscribed, "To Roy H. Guertler West Point '28 by Citizens of Schuylkill Haven
June 11,1928". His initials RHG are engraved on the casing.
Assigned to the cavalry, Guertler was sent to Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia. The Air Service appealed to him
and in 1930 he passed his entrance exam. During advanced training at Kelly Field, an accident occurred. Lt.
Guertler and another pilot were on a picture taking assignment on April 7,1931. Guertler was in the rear of
the open cockpit at the camera. The plane reduced speed in an attempt to secure better photos. It is
believed that the wind caught the over sized aerial camera, stalling the plane's engine which caused it to
tailspin and crash from an altitude of about 300 feet, killing Guertler.
Guertler was a popular boy in town, a Boy Scout and ranked first in his graduating class. He ranked high in
his class all four years at West Point. He had been home just a few months earlier to attend the funeral of
his mother, next to whom he will be buried.
A funeral was held with full military honors at Kelly Field, Texas after which the body was placed aboard a
train for the journey home. Major Martin, commander of Kelly Field wired the family expressing their
The funeral here was the largest ever held in Schuylkill Haven with a crowd estimated at 20,000 viewing the
procession. The two Battery Companies of the National Guard participated along with some prominent Army
men including a number of his West Point classmates. St. John's Reformed Church was filled for the service
and amplifiers were placed outside the church so all those present could hear. A horse drawn caisson
carried his remains to the Union Cemetery while four Army planes flew overhead in a tribute fitting a man
held in high esteem.
|Above the narrative
tombstone. To the
left is his picture
and biography as it
appeared in the
"Blue and Gold"
Schuylkill Haven in
|Roy Guertler in the
cockpit of his plane
on the right. (225th
Anniversary Book of
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Gideon Bast was one of the most prominent merchants and coal operators in Schuylkill County during his
the age of twelve. He was endowed a reasonable property which was lost to poor management before
Gideon became of age to legally claim his share. He had little educational training and spent his boyhood
working on a farm. At the age of fifteen he began his life as an entrepreneur peddling his wares
throughout the valleys of Berks and Schuylkill Counties. He eventually extended the range of his trade by
acquiring a wagon and thus increased his wealth. At the age of twenty five he partnered with his
brother-in-law, Samuel Heilner, and opened a general store in Berks County. Eight years later they moved
their business to Minersville and became engaged as coal operators. The partnership was dissolved in
1935 and at that time Gideon bast moved to Schuylkill Haven, where he opened a store while retaining coal
operations at Wolf Creek, in partnership with Lewis Audenreid and with David Pierson at Ashland. By 1838
he had ended his coal interests and ceased to trade in 1845.
Bast erected a luxurious home in 1845 on Center Avenue where he raised his family. On August 5, 1833 he
married Mary Moyer of Berks County with whom he had ten children. Bast was a self made man who with
meager beginnings amassed a remarkable fortune. The old Jerusalem Church was built largely through his
monetary donations. He died March 10, 1880 and is buried in the Union Cemetery in Schuylkill Haven.
Much of the biographical information obtained from Munsell's History of Schuylkill County of 1881.
|At left is the
elegant home built
for Gideon Bast
and his family on
Center Avenue. At
right is an image of
him from the 1881
of Schuylkill County.
|CHARLES AUGUSTUS "BAGS" GRAEFF
children, several who died at an early age. The family lived for many years at 204 East Market Street in Schuylkill
Haven. Graeff was more familiarly known as "Bags", a nickname he inherited from a deceased brother. In later
years, he was also known as "Mr. Republican" because of his dedication and active participation in the
Republican Party in Schuylkill County. He was married to the former Marian Maberry and had one daughter,
Suzanne. A lifetime resident of Schuylkill Haven, he died on November 18, 1984 and is buried in the Union
Cemetery in Schuylkill Haven.
Charles Graeff worked in the railroad yards as a young man before enlisting in the Pennsylvania National Guard
in April 1915. He served in Company C, 103rd Engineers Regiment of the Pennsylvania 28th Division. He was
involved in the Mexican Border War of 1916-1917 and later served overseas in World War One. During his
service in France, his unit fought in the battles at Chateau Thierry, the Fifth German Offensive, Oureq-Vesle, the
Meuse Argonne and the Thiacourt Sector. His brother Clarence "Dewey" Graeff also served in the same
company was wounded by shrapnel. Following the war, the large group of veterans of the 103rd Engineers from
Schuylkill Haven had a yearly reunion, with Charles being instrumental in the planning of the event which
continued until his death.
Graeff served as Postmaster in Schuylkill Haven from July 1, 1924 until April 22, 1934 when the office was located
in the Hotel Grand. His appointment ended when the federal administration changed parties. During his term,
the office was advanced to second class status. During the Depression years, he gained many friends through
his efficient handling of the distribution of basic commodities to the needy which were provided by the
government. (*His name is often mentioned in articles in the "Years Gone By" page of this site of that era as
being a leader in civic minded projects)
A staunch Republican, he played an active role in the political life of the community. He served as Republican
Committeeman in the East Ward of town and was very involved in every election. His untiring efforts in working
with the citizens of the East Ward were largely responsible for the development of the Green Goose playground.
After his term as Postmaster, he became a clerk in the Commissioner's Office in Schuylkill County and had
charge of the Veterans Bureau. In 1939 he was the successful candidate for the office of Controller of Schuylkill
County. His constant generosity, efficient handling of affairs, and the hundreds of favors done for his fellow
citizens gained him high respect and a host of friends. He was reelected as Controller with no opposition within
his party or from the Democrats.
In later years, Graeff was a salesman for Ace Aluminum Doors and Windows in Pottsville and with his pleasing
personality and charming demeanor, became very successful. He was an active member of Saint Matthew's
Lutheran Church and also in many local organizations. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather
always having served his family, his country and his community with dignity, love and pride.
On a personal note, I had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Graeff from my childhood until his passing. I was a fellow member of Saint Matthew's
and as a very young Council President, remember his kind encouragement. He was well known for his sense of humor. I grew up four
homes away from his family homestead, which was occupied by his sister Ruth during my childhood. He was a frequent visitor and he
always had a friendly greeting and the occasional piece of candy. As mentioned, he was a staunch Republican. When we would see him
down the street, we would holler, "Democrat, Democrat". Bags would cover his ears and say, "Ouuuch, that hurts my ears." He was a kind
gentleman and an asset to the community.
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION KINDLY FURNISHED BY HIS DAUGHTER, SUZANNE.
|"Bags" Graeff was an active
member of the community
including helping with Schuylkill
Haven's 175th Anniversary
celebration in 1925 as evidenced
by the photo at left.