Tha Than brothers – Mór and Károly – were born in Becej into a noble family. Their father, János was a descendant of noblemen who came from the Low Countries and settled in Szepes County. János was a nobleman without any property, who – being an intellectual - worked as an engineer-official in the town. At the place of this building that has been rebuilt into a Memorial House, there was the original house of the Than family.
"it is quite obvious that Károly Than was the founder of modern chemistry in our country.
(Becej, 1834 - Budapest, 1908)
He was born on 20 December 1834. He fought in the Hungarian Revolution voluntarily and he got interested into chemistry while he worked in a cannon foundry. After the revolution very tough years followed, he worked in several drugstores, in 1855 he graduated and in 1858 he obtained the doctorate in Prague at the department of the famous professor Redtenbacher, where earlier Artúr Görgey received his doctorate.
His interest and work involved all fields within chemistry, he approached various phenomena in chemistry from many different aspects and he had the ability to discover greater schemes, while his strict logic helped him to understand and observe ideas clearly what was especially important in that era. He was an incredibly precise experimenter, always noticing possible sources of mistakes. In inorganic, analytic and physical chemistry he accomplished foundational discoveries which are still valid. He had a determining role in organization of chemistry teaching at highschools and universities, in activities of scientific organization at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, his science-promoting work in the Association of Natural Sciences was equally important."...
"The work of Károly Than was essential regarding the educational system of his country, presentation and promotion of natural sciences, showing their significance within the society. His monumental work, the "Elements of Experimental Chemistry" is nowadays still an enjoyable, from many aspects very useful book."...
"According to the famous saying, in Russian literature everyone popped out of Gogol's mantle. One could likewise say without any exaggeration that every Hungarian chemic is indirectly the student of Károly Than. I wish he was pleased with them." (Citation from the article Than Károly written by professor emeritus, dr. Mihály Beck, member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, contemporary chemic)
In 1902, the local government of Becej commemorated Károly Than's work by giving him the title of the town's Honourably Citizen.
He passed away on 5 July 1908, shortly after his retirement.
2013, Alisa Tóth