Lewis Hern, like his father and grandfather before him, did not live with his wife and children. Several generations of Herns had “abroad” marriages, in which husband and wife belonged to different owners, a common feature of slavery in Virginia. Although Lewis Hern and Georgeanna were married by an Episcopal minister in 1853, they had to live apart until freedom came in 1865.
In the post-war years, Lewis Hern progressed from being a farmworker at Edgehill, the plantation of Jefferson’s grandson Thomas J. Randolph, to becoming the owner of his own farm. He was a founding deacon of Union Run Baptist Church and, together with George Hughes, purchased a hundred acres of Albemarle County land in 1870. At that time Hern was one of relatively few rural residents in the county to send his children to school. The Hern (now Hearns) family’s stress on education as well as their ties to the land, the Hughes family, and Union Run Church have continued in succeeding generations to the present day.