A Multiplication Based Logic Puzzle

Posts tagged ‘family history’

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.

543-Subtracting dates


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.

Comparing Death Information from Erzsébet and Two Men Named Mihály

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.


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


522 Gustáv Forgon and Mária Csörnök

I’ll write about the family of Gustáv Forgon and Mária Csörnök after I write a little bit about the number 522.

522 = 73 + 79 + 83 + 89 + 97 + 101 which is all the prime numbers between 72 and 102.

522 is the hypotenuse of the Pythagorean triple 360-378-522.

  • 522 is a composite number.
  • Prime factorization: 522 = 2 x 3 x 3 x 29, which can be written 522 = 2 x (3^2) x 29
  • The exponents in the prime factorization are 1, 2, and 1. Adding one to each and multiplying we get (1 + 1)(2 + 1)(1 + 1) = 2 x 3 x 2 = 12. Therefore 522 has exactly 12 factors.
  • Factors of 516: 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 18, 29, 58, 87, 174, 261, 522
  • Factor pairs: 522 = 1 x 522, 2 x 261, 3 x 174, 6 x 87, 9 x 58, or 18 x 29
  • Taking the factor pair with the largest square number factor, we get √522 = (√9)(√58) = 3√58 ≈ 22.8473193


Gustáv Forgon was two years younger than my husband’s second great-grandmother, Erzsébet Forgon. They were only seventh cousins, but most likely they still knew each other quite well as they both had the same surname and grew up as part of one of the most prominent noble families in the little Hungarian village called Mihályfalva.

When Gustáv grew up, he married. His marriage record is the third record on the page below and states that his marriage occurred in 1873 on February 12. The record states that the groom was the noble Gusztáv Forgon, the son of the late noble Miklós Forgon and the noble Sarlotta Bodon. The groom was born and raised in Mihályfalva and was 25 years old. The bride was Mária Csörnök, daughter of Márton Csörnök and Zsuzsánna Miko. She was born and raised in Alsó-Vály and was 17 years old on their wedding day. Click on the record to see it better.15

The couple settled in  Alsó-Vály where they had TWELVE children born before 1896.

1st. Their first son, Ignácz Gusztáv Forgon, was born on 10 February 1875 and baptized two days later. His birth is the 5th entry on the page below. They lived in house #3 in Alsó-Vály.


2nd. Curiously they named their second son Gusztáv when he was born on 25 August 1876 and baptized two days later. His birth is the 3rd entry on the page below.


3rd. On 5 March 1879 the couple was blessed to have a daughter. They named her Apollónia Forgon, which was the same name as her godmother. Apollónia was christened two days after she was born as indicated on the 6th entry of the year. There is also a comment in the right margin: +1922 is all that I can read of it. It most likely indicates that she lived until 1922.


On 10 April 1881 Mária’s father, Márton Csörnök, died. He had been very weak for a while. Her parents had been married for 42 of his 62 3/4 years.

4th & 5th. On 19 May 1881 Gustáv Forgon and Mária Csörnök had twin boys! They named them István and Pál. The boys were christened the same day they were born as recorded on entries 7 and 8 below.


Sadly István was very weak and died four days later on 1881 May 24. His death record is number 17, very close to the middle of the page.


6th. Gizella was born on 11 March 1884 and baptized the next day. Her christening is the next to the last entry below.


7th and 8th. Gustáv Forgon and Mária Csörnök had another set of twins born on 13 April 1886. This time the twins were a boy and a girl, István and Mária. Their births are the 9th and 10th entry. Their deaths also came too early and are listed in the margins.


This István was also very weak and died when he was only 10 days old on the 27 April 1885. His death record is third from the bottom of the page.


Maria lived a little more than 9 months more than her twin, István, did. She died 1887 January 25 and was buried the next day. Her cause of death was listed as sínlődés. Online dictionaries were no help translating this word, but my very old and priceless Hungarian-English dictionary that a genealogist friend gave me equates the verb sínlődni and sínleni which means to be sickly, to be broken down in health, to languish. The record of her death is second from the top of the page.


9th. A daughter, Irma, was born on 23 January 1888 and baptized the next day. She was the third baby christened in 1888.


On 2 March 1890 Mária’s mother, Zsuzsánna Miko, died. Her death record stated that her mother was 69 years, 11 months, and 13 days old when she died. That was very important information because I could not find Márton Csörnök and Zsuzsánna Miko marriage record to learn the names of Zsuzsánna’s parents, and there were several people named Zsuzsánna Miko in the area. Now I know exactly who she is!

10th. The family’s house number changed from #3 to #4 when László was born 28 June 1890. His baptism was on 3 July as indicated in the next to last entry on the page below. I know for sure that László grew up, married, and now has many descendants.


11th. The family’s house number is now #5. The family welcomed another little boy that they named István. He was born on 17 March 1894 and was baptized three days later as recorded on the 5th entry below. His death later that year is indicated in the margin as well.


István died 17 October 1894 and was buried two days later. This István Forgon, age 5 months, died from weakness and was only the 15th death in the area that year.


The record that was 3rd from the last on the same page (the 1st death record in 1895) is the death record for Gustáv’s widowed mother, Bodon Sarlolta, as it is spelled on this record. She was 72 years old when she died on 15 January 1895, and was buried two days later.

12th. Still living in house #5, the family welcomed Lajos who was born on 30 September 1895 and christened the next day. His was the 21st birth recorded in the book that year.


I enjoy using old records to piece together a family to understand some of what they went through together. Imagining their joy when they married or had a newborn baby as well as their struggles and trials when a loved one died makes them become more than just a name and a date to me. I hope you enjoyed reading about this noble Hungarian family.

494 My First Microfilm Treasure Hunt

494 is the hypotenuse of one Pythagorean triple: 190-456-494. What is the greatest common factor of those three numbers?

  • 494 is a composite number.
  • Prime factorization: 494 = 2 x 13 x 19
  • The exponents in the prime factorization are 1, 1, and 1. Adding one to each and multiplying we get (1 + 1)(1 + 1)(1 + 1) = 2 x 2 x 2 = 8. Therefore 494 has exactly 8 factors.
  • Factors of 494: 1, 2, 13, 19, 26, 38, 247, 494
  • Factor pairs: 494 = 1 x 494, 2 x 247, 13 x 38, or 19 x 26
  • 494 has no square factors that allow its square root to be simplified. √494 ≈ 22.22611


Years ago my husband and I wanted to research his family tree so I decided to visit the Family History library in downtown Salt Lake City on 8 April 2010. At that time we knew the names of his four grandparents, his eight great-grandparents, and one great-great-grandfather. We knew all of these people were born in Hungary. The information we had was that two of his grandparents were born in a little town called Gyoma in what is now eastern Hungary. We had no idea where his other two grandparents were born. This day was the first time I ever looked at any Hungarian genealogical records. I knew maybe ten words in Hungarian, and I had never even seen similar records in English.

The records were recorded on microfilm which were sorted into Roman Catholic, Reformed Hungarian, Lutheran, and Jewish records. I had no idea what religion his ancestors were, but based on the number of microfilms available for each religion in Gyoma, chances were that they belonged to the Reformed Church. I found a microfilm with Kereszteltek (christening) records from 1883-1895. A volunteer showed me how to put the microfilm on a the reader, and I started looking. I made notes of which records interested me. It was so exciting to find records that had names of people I had heard stories about. It was my intention to photocopy as many family records as I could, scan them into my home computer, and email them to my son, David, who speaks Hungarian fluently but lived in Qatar at the time. However, when I went to make copies, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I could actually copy the records directly onto a flash drive!

I emailed my son that the five hours I spent at the family history library were well spent. I didn’t find any of the christening records I was expecting to find but found about thirteen records of his ancestor’s siblings. I attached the records to the email and waited for morning to arrive in Qatar so he could reply.

The next day he emailed me back, “I only had time to look at the first four (records). I’ll check the rest later. I’ve written some notes below, but I should let you know that you basically just found four people who aren’t related to us.” He then wrote in English what each of the records said.

Later he emailed me, “To continue the bad news, Now that I look at all of them, I can see that they (the great-grandparents) are all listed as godparents. This should explain why you didn’t find much of what you were actually looking for. Now you know, and should be able to look for names in the right column.”

He sent me translations of the page headings so I wouldn’t go wrong in the future. The christening records were two pages wide. Here are the headings with his translations for the first page:

And here are the headings with translations for the 2nd page.

So there you have it. Since I knew so little Hungarian and so little about how christening records are organized, I thought the godparents were the parents.

I had to wait a whole week before I could go back to the library, but this first visit was not a total bust. We still learned a few things about my husband’s great-grandfather, Dániel Finta, that we didn’t know before. We learned that he worked in a factory making shoes because his profession was given next to his name on at least one record. We learned that Dániel was asked on several occasions to be a godfather. Sometimes his wife was the godmother with him, and sometimes his mother was. Because I found these records we now knew his mother’s name, Sára Bíró, as well. We also learned that Dániel belonged to the Reformed Church and his wife, Emília Pribelszky, was Lutheran.

I was grateful for what we had learned and anxious to return again.

How successful were you the first time you looked into your family history? If you were discouraged, please give it another try. It is so worth it. If you were successful, you know exactly what I mean.

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