A Multiplication Based Logic Puzzle

543 Arithmetic and Genealogy

Doing genealogy is like working on a puzzle. Sometimes the smallest detail can be so important when determining who a person is. Sometimes doing a little adding or subtracting can be very helpful, too.

Unfortunately in the 1800’s many people were illiterate, and their arithmetic skills were sometimes lacking even more than that of people today. The ages given at marriage are not always accurate perhaps because the people didn’t know their true age or possibly because they added or subtracted a few years to appear older or younger than they really were. Sometimes the ages given at death are a little more accurate.

In the town of Gyoma in Békés County, Hungary there were several men named Kéri Mihály (Michael Keri). One of them was a widower who married a widow named Juhász Erzsébet (Elizabeth Juhasz or Elizabeth Shephard) on 14 September 1853 in the Hungarian Reformed Church in town. Their marriage record stated that he was 48 years old when they married, and the bride was 34.

I wanted to know exactly who this particular Michael Keri was. I looked through the Reformed Church records to find out more about him. I decided to look for his death record hoping that it would list his wife’s name on the record to help identify him.

I already knew that one year and six days after their wedding, the couple’s only child was born, a daughter that they named Lidia. Since her christening record indicated that her father was still living when she was baptized, I looked at death records beginning the very next day. After searching through over 15 years of records, I found two death records of men named Michael Keri. Unfortunately neither record mentioned a spouse or any other pertinent information. Were either of these men the person I sought?

I kept looking until I found his wife’s death record. Her record had much more information on it. It said that she was the wife of the late Keri Mihály so I knew for sure that one of those two men was her husband, but which one?

Since HER death record said how long she had been married and how long she had been widowed, I put that information at the bottom of the following chart next to her name, Juhász Erzsébet. I also did a little arithmetic to try to determine which Kéri Mihály best fit the numbers on her death record and put their numbers above hers. Thus this chart compares information from the death records of these two men named Kéri Mihály who lived in the same town and died about the same time with the information given on Juhász Erzsébet’s death record.

I’ve highlighted in green that one of the men more closely fit the number of years of marriage while the other man more closely fit the number of years she would have been widowed.

I wasn’t any closer to determining which of these two men was her husband than I was before! But then….Look at the house numbers! When I added the house numbers to the chart, it became very clear that her husband was the Michael Keri who died on 30 September 1868.

Many records do not even list house numbers, and when they are listed, they are often ignored. That one little puzzle piece made all the difference in determining who this man was. In future weeks I’ll write how I put other puzzle pieces together until I formed a much clearer picture of this man named Michael Keri.

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543 is made from three consecutive numbers so it is divisible by 3.

543 is the hypotenuse of the Pythagorean triple 57-540-543. Can you find the greatest common factor of those three numbers?

• 543 is a composite number.
• Prime factorization: 543 = 3 x 181
• The exponents in the prime factorization are 1 and 1. Adding one to each and multiplying we get (1 + 1)(1 + 1) = 2 x 2 = 4. Therefore 543 has exactly 4 factors.
• Factors of 543: 1, 3, 181, 543
• Factor pairs: 543 = 1 x 543 or 3 x 181
• 543 has no square factors that allow its square root to be simplified. √543 ≈ 23.30236

Comments on: "543 Arithmetic and Genealogy" (4)

1. Fine bit of reasoning, that. Nice job.

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• Thank you!

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2. What a great story! I laughed when I realized that your number sleuthing had nothing to do with making calculations, but,instead relied on you noticing a straightforward, simple pattern.

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• Yes, sometimes something other than math helps solve these genealogy puzzles. 🙂

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