Jenny Cook: The Culpeper Connection

I write two columns a week, have for about two years now. However, for the last few weeks due to the remarkable journey and research that I get to be part of, both columns have been about the travels, the experiences and the discoveries.  Each column is different from the other and if you wish to read them all, please go to or my Blog at


My focus for the Star Exponent is what I have termed the Plus One: that would be Jenny Cook.


Though I have not found that indisputable piece of paper, if I had Mueller’s staff and funds I would have grounds to bring it before a Grand Jury and would no doubt have already received the indictment that would find that Jenny Cook was born about 1800 at Berry Hill Plantation in Culpeper County, VA and owned by the Thom family.


Readers will have to be satisfied with the facts that have been discovered, gathered, and analyzed. They are indeed compelling. Nonetheless, we are still digging.


Believing that Jenny was brought to Louisiana by Lucy Thom Taylor to assist the young bride with her new home, it is plausible that Jenny left family behind. Can that question be answered?


Jenny was Lucy’s senior by ten to fifteen years and not a field slave. Instead she would have served in the house and had most likely known Lucy from an early age. Jenny could have been purchased by the Thom family or acquired during a marriage, but it is equally possible that she was born and raised at Berry Hill and had siblings and/or parents residing there when she left in 1834.


There is one significant clue! When Col. John Triplett Thom’s will was probated in 1856, he had manumitted several of his slaves most of whom were listed only with a first name and age.  There was one with a surname: Fanny Simms, born about 1800.


Could Fanny Simms have been Jenny sister?  How did she get the Simms surname and most important to the research, did she leave Culpeper once freed?  That was the law but there were exceptions.


This inquiring mind wants to know if there are any living descendants of Fanny Simms. Stay with me here as there is a method to my seeming madness.


I have discovered three children born to Jenny Cook here in Louisiana: William, Lucy and Lucinda. Of those, multiple living descendants of Lucinda have been identified. There is known to be a living great grandchild of Lucinda’s other known son, Walter living in New Orleans. And we are on the hunt for living relatives of William.


If those that are identified are willing to have their DNA tested, it could be the proof we need.  If we were able to discover Simms family members and they had their DNA tested, we might not need the Grand Jury!! Stay tuned.

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