Well, I’ll start with what I know for sure. The children Levi Coffin talks about are definitely those of Albert Gallatin Cage. There were three Cage brothers who settled in Terrebonne Pa., LA: James (1776-1854), Harry (1795-1858) and Albert Gallatin (ca. 1796-1850). They were all the sons of Maj. William Cage (ca. 1745-1811) of Sumner Co., TN: James by first wife Elizabeth Douglass (1754-1792) and Harry and Albert by his second wife Ann Hall (ca. 1762-1800).
James settled in Terrebonne first, and became a wealthy sugar planter. Brothers Harry and Albert first settled in the Natchez/Woodville area of Mississippi, where Harry married Catherine Stewart (1804-1829) and became a lawyer, judge, MS State Supreme Court Justice an member of the US House of Representatives. He is the “Judge Cage” Coffin refers to. He purchased a third interest in his brother James’ Woodlawn Plantation and moved to Terrebonne Pa. in 1844; their brother Albert Gallatin Cage owned bordering Ashland Plantation.
James and Albert never married, but both had illegitimate children; James formally acknowledged his (Martha, William, Thomas and George) in a legal document of 1846. Albert unfortunately did not do the same and, as recounted by Coffin, his children were therefore legally his slaves and his property.
James and Harry inherited their brother Albert's interest in Ashland Plantation – and his slaves - after his intestate death in October of 1850. This started the chain of events recounted in Coffin’s memoirs. James Cage died in 1854. He wrote his will in 1850, however, before Albert died, specifically bequeathing in a codicil “to my brother Albert G. Cage I leave one thousand dollars in addition to the one thousand dollars already mentioned in my Will. This amount is to assist him in the education of his children.” He also leaves “to Delia Ann, mulattoe girl daughter of Kitty Thomas I give fifteen hundred dollars.”
After Albert’s death, James ammended his will in 1851: “In the bequest to the yellow girl Delia Ann mentioned in my Will of fifteen hundred dollars, I hereby add the further sum of one thousand dollars, making her entire bequest to her twenty five hundred dollars. I hereby bequeath to the illegitimate children of my brother Albert G. Cage deceased, vested in the hands of my executors for their education the sum of one thousand dollars, my legacy left in my Will, having lapsed by his death.”
Harry Cage died in 1858 and, exactly as recounted by Coffin, his son Duncan Stewart Cage (ca. 1825-1885), a Louisiana state representative, inherited his father’s estate (which presumably included his cousins).
So there is no doubt that the children Coffin talks about are those of Albert Gallatin Cage. But who were they? Coffin states that there were eight children. The three eldest (two sons and a daughter) were being educated “up north” when Albert died, and the other five were still at home. One son - “a boy twelve or fourteen years old” - was sent to Coffin 3 or 4 years before Harry Cage’s death: i.e. ,1854 or 1855, and was thus born ca. 1840/43. The remaining 4 girls were sent up “shortly before the rebellion” to Coffin to be placed at a school in Oberlin.
Amelia Cage & Franklin Cage, mulattos born in Louisiana, ages 12 & 11 (respectively) are in the household of Peter P. Pease in the 1860 Oberlin, Lorain Co. OH census, so I think these are certainly Albert’s children. The General Catalogue of Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH: Oberlin College, 1909) shows the following enrolments:
Frances Cage, enr. 1860-1861, prep., from New Orleans, LA
Lizzie Cage, enr. 1860-1861, prep., from New Orleans, LA
Aurelia [sic: Amelia] Cage, enr. 1864-1865 prep., from Cincinnati, OH
Also, Robert Samuel Fletcher’s “History of Oberlin College” (Oberlin, OH: Oberlin College, 1943) states that “in 1860 a member of the Louisiana legislature was much embarrassed to find that he had inherited his cousins, the daughters of his uncle and a light-colored slave. He shipped these girls to Coffin at Cincinnati, with a request that he provide for their edIication at Oberlin and a draft for five hundred dollars to pay their initial expenses at that institution. Lizzie, Frances and Amelia Cage stayed in Oberlin from June to November of 1860. Coffin sent money and instructions to Secretary Hill from time to time. The youngest sister, Amelia, was never officially registered in the Preparatory Department as were Frances and Lizzie. When the Civil War broke out money ceased to come from their cousin, and Coffin obtained positions for them as household servants. Their relative and legal owner is said to have lost all his property in the war.”
The 1860 Oberlin, Lorain Co. OH census shows the following household:
Nelson S Bishop 48 NY ca. 1812
William W Fort 28 OH ca. 1832
Julia L Bishop 45 CT ca. 1815
Henry Bishop 22 OH ca. 1838
Louis Bishop 18 OH ca. 1832
Julia Bishop 4 OH ca. 1856
Maria Smith 20 LA ca. 1840 mulatto
Emeline Fort 28 OH ca. 1832
Minnie Fort 3 OH ca. 1857
Angie Brua Fort 22 OH ca. 1838
Lizzie Cage Fort 23 LA ca. 1837 mulatto
Frances Fort 21 LA ca. 1839 mulatto
One researcher identifies “Fort” as “Foote”, William W. Fort being William Wirt Foote (1832-1895) with his wife Emmeline L. Brooks (1830-1819) and daughter Minnie Emma Foote (1857-1925). What their association with Lizzie and Frances was, I don’t know. But I think these are certainly Lizzie & Frances Cage; Maria Smith might be a sister as well.
Coffin states that the oldest girl – “a young woman of twenty-one” – returned to New Orleans “to live the life of a concubine” with a merchant there. In the 1860 New Orleans census there appears in a single household (and in this order): Adaline Cage (mulatto, age 24, b. LA, ca. 1836), Jules Lambert (white. age 24, b. LA ca. 1836), Mary L. Cage (mulatto, age 1, b. LA ca. 1859), Antoinette Cage (mulatto, age 21, b. LA ca. 1839) and Delia Cage (mulatto, age 20, b. LA ca. 1840).
Orleans Parish birth records show Louisa Mary Lambert born 10 July 1859 to Jules Lambert and “Adelaide Gage”. I think this is certainly Adaline Cage, and that she is the “concubine” with her lover (Jules Lambert) and their illegitimate child (Mary Louisa Cage/Lambert). Antoinette & Delia may be younger sisters, but they don’t seem to fit in with Coffin’s narrative. Delia Cage is almost certainly “the yellow girl Delia Ann” mentioned in James Cage’s will. He calls her the daughter of “Kitty Thomas”, though, so she may be a half sister. She certainly was singled out and apparently excluded from Albert’s children in James’ will, so she may not be Albert’s child at all. How she and Antoinette fits into the picture is anyone’s guess.
Orleans Parish Death records show “Adelaide” Cage died 30 Oct 1869, age 33, and Jules Lambert died on 24 July 1878, age 45. I have no record of what happened to their daughter. Delia Cage died on 22 Jul 1865, age 24.
Finally, in 1850, there appears in the Cincinnati, Hamilton Co. OH census in a boarding house Andrew Cage (Mulatto, age 20, b. LA ca. 1830). He is too old to be the boy first sent to Coffin, but he may well be one of the two sons sent up north earlier.
So, of the possible children of Albert Cage, I find:
1. Andrew Cage (b. ca. 1830)
2. Adaline/Adelaide Cage, (ca. 1836-30 Oct 1869); had illegitimate child Mary Louisa Cage (b. 10 July 1859) with Jules Lambert (ca. 1833/36-22 Jul 1865)
3. Lizzie (b. ca. 1837)
4. Frances Cage (b. ca. 1839)
5. Antoinette Cage (b. ca. 1839)
6. Delia Ann Cage (ca. 1840/41-22 Jul 1865); possibly a half-sister with mother Kitty Thomas, or even a cousin
7. Amelia Cage (b. ca. 1848)
8. Franklin Cage (b. ca. 1849)
Coffin says there were eight children – three sons and five daughters – and though his memories appear accurate, his memoirs were written sixteen years later and are probably not perfect. However, of the eight probable children I mention, Andrew (the older son educated “up north”), Adaline/Adelaide (the New Orleans concubine), and Lizzie, Frances, Amelia & Franklin (Louisiana-born mulatto young adults & children who appear in Oberlin, OH right before the war) so exactly match his recollections, that I think there is no doubt that these five, at least, are the children of Albert G. Cage.
Can you provide more details on India Amelia, Maggie, Lizzie & Fannie - dates, places, husbands, etc.? Maybe we can piece this together.