Category Archives: News

Johannes Nill, Early Zookeeper in Germany

I am working on a book on the Slaughter family, the descendants of Jacob Schlotterer, who was born in 1693 in Bodelshausen, Germany and died in 1769 in Germantown, PA.

During the past year, I discovered that there is a resource in Germany that collects town records together for easy reference. It is a series of books called town family books. In German, that’s Ortsfamilienbuch. A cousin of mine, Martha Hills, emailed me that there was one of those books recently published containing the records of Bodelshausen, the village from which our ancestors came. It is called “Ortsfamilienbuch von Bodelshausen,” compiled by Hermann Griebel in 2014.

Earlier this year, another cousin emailed me that she was going on a trip to Europe and would be visiting Bodelshausen. I asked her to pick up a copy of the Bodelshausen book for me. She did that, and I am now going through it and adding to my genealogy.

While going through the book, I noticed that there were some family photos for some people, and there was an animal poster for one of them.

I was going to just write about the book and the Slaughter research, so I searched online to find an online source for the Bodelshausen book so I could link to it in a post. There were some links to the book itself, but there were a lot of links to articles that were using the book as a reference. In particular, there were a lot of links to articles about Johannes Nill and a zoo in Stuttgart, Germany.

One of the articles was a German Wikipedia article on Johannes Nill. The first thing I noticed was a copy of the same animal poster that I had seen in the Bodelshausen book. I figured that Johannes was important enough that I should write about him, and since he was in the Bodelshausen book, and I’m related to most of the families in the book, that he might be a relative as well.

Johannes Nill

I found Johannes Nill in the Bodelshausen book and traced each line of his ancestry. I found that he was, indeed, related to me. Here is a chart showing that relationship:


Here is a summary of what I found about Johannes Nill. He was born February 21, 1825, in Bodelshausen, Wuerttemberg, Germany, and died May 20, 1894, in Stuttgart, Wuerttemberg, Germany. His parents were Johannes Nill and Anna Barbara Eberhardt. You can find him in the genealogy here.

Johannes was a carpenter by trade. Around 1870, he bought some exotic animals, and in 1871, he opened a zoo on his property on the outskirts of Stuttgart. It was called Tiergarten Nill. Tiergarten is German for “animal garden.” At its peak, the zoo would have over 20,000 visitors on a Sunday afternoon.


When Johannes died, his son Adolf took over. Eventually, the city of Stuttgart expanded until there was housing all around the zoo. People started complaining about the noise and smell. So the zoo was forced to close in 1906. The animals were sold to other zoos, and the property was sold to the city of Stuttgart for a million marks.

One of his great accomplishments at the zoo was the first breeding in captivity of the great anteater.


Photos all from Wikipedia.

©2017 Michael T. Slaughter

The Search for Jeremiah Evans’ Parents

After finding Jeremiah Evans’ wife’s correct name and ancestry (as I posted yesterday), I decided to take another look for his ancestry.

Jeremiah was married in 1833 in Orange Co., NC, so I looked in the first census after that, 1840, to see if I could find him and other relatives in Orange Co.


I found Jeremiah, and immediately above him was Samuel Evans. The 1840 census only lists heads of households, along with the numbers of males and females in various age groupings. In Jeremiah’s household, there were 2 males age 0-4, 1 male age 30-39, 1 female age 0-4, 1 female age 5-9, and 1 female age 30-39. That was obviously Jeremiah, Martha, and 5 children.

In Samuel’s household, there was 1 male age 10-14, 1 male age 20-29, 1 male age 50-59, and 1 female age 50-59. That would obviously be Samuel, his wife, and probably 2 sons.

The next step was to research Samuel Evans and try to see what the family connection was, since they were next-door neighbors in the census.

I found an estate file for Samuel Evans from 1840 in Orange Co. One of the papers was signed by his wife, Frances, on November 23, 1840, so Samuel most likely died earlier in 1840, but after the census date. The paper Frances signed stated that Samuel had just 3 children, Jesse, Henderson, and Jeremy. Jesse and Henderson would be the two sons in the census, and Jeremy would be my ancestor, Jeremiah.

I found Henderson Evans in the 1850 census for Orange Co., NC. He was 39 years old with a wife and children. He would have been 29 in 1840, which matches the 1 male child age 20-29 in Samuel’s household. Also, next door to Henderson was Frances Evans, age 60. She was his mother.

Since I now had Frances’ approximate birth year, 1790, I wanted to know Samuel’s. He was listed in the age category 50-59, corresponding to a birth year anywhere from about 1781 to about 1790. I went back to the 1830 census for Orange Co. and found Samuel’s listing. In that census, he was also listed in the age category 50-59, corresponding to a birth year from about 1771 to about 1780. So Samuel was actually born about 1780 or 1781.

So now I know Jeremiah Evans was the son of Samuel and Frances Evans.

©2017 Michael T. Slaughter

Jeremiah Evans Married Martha Boreland?

For many decades, I had Jeremiah and Martha Boreland as the parents of my great-great-grandmother, Lucy A. Evans, wife of Amos Glover Slaughter. Lucy was in the 1850 Census for Person Co., NC as the daughter of Jerry and Patsy Evans. The Orange Co., NC records had the marriage of Jeremiah Evans and Martha Boreland on April 9, 1833.

I decided earlier this week to attempt breaking through a brick wall and find Martha Boreland’s ancestry.

The first thing I did was search the 1850 Census for Orange Co., NC and note all the Borelands. I found a number of them, spelled “Borland” in the records. I then researched each family to see if I could find evidence of Martha or where she could fit in.

The first family I looked at was Andrew Borland, but he had a daughter named Martha who was much too young to be mine. Then I looked at the next family, Archibald Borland. He didn’t have a daughter in the census, so I added him to Family Tree Maker so I could research his family. I found his estate file, and in that was a listing of his children. There was no Martha.

The third family I checked out was Willis Borland. He had a Martha, age 80, living with him, who might be his mother. This looked promising, so I entered him and his family in Family Tree Maker.

When I started checking references on Willis Borland, I found the alternate last name of Bolling. Allowing for southern accents, I could see how the two names could be mistaken by record keepers.

I changed his last name to Bolling in my data and started researching again. This time I found genealogies of the Bolling family. They all gave Willis’s parents as John Bolling/Boling and Martha Mangum. In addition, among the children I found Martha, and she was exactly the correct age, born about 1810.

So John Bolling and Martha Mangum are the elusive parents of Martha “Boreland.”

For anyone in the immediate family, an added bonus is that John Bolling was a private in the NC Militia during the Revolutionary War. So Jeremiah and Martha’s descendants are qualified for the DAR and SAR.

Check out the Genealogy section for more ancestors of John Bolling and Martha Mangum.

©2017 Michael T. Slaughter

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