Protected: Burkley Bullock (ca. 1830–1908)


Burkley Bullock (sometimes spelled Berkeley Bullock or Berkley Bullock) was an African American entrepreneur, real estate broker and investor, and community organizer. Born enslaved in Louisa County, Bullock spent his formative years as a domestic servant to a wealthy financier and merchant in Charlottesville. He learned to read and write from an older member of the enslaved community. His literacy played a key role in his early acquisition of business skills, which may have assisted him in possibly running a store for his enslaver and enabled him to forge his own pass as part of an attempted escape. Shortly before the end of the American Civil War (1861–1865), he freed himself and his family from slavery. In 1868, Bullock bought the first of more than a dozen properties he would own in Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville. He founded the Ivy Creek Baptist Church, known today as Union Ridge Baptist Church; ran several businesses, including a restaurant at Union Station, opposite the Virginia Midland Railway junction; and cofounded the Piedmont Industrial and Land Improvement Company, the region’s first state-chartered company organized by Black men for the benefit of the African American community. He also provided for his children’s education. He died in 1908 after a period of poor health and is buried in Charlottesville.

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ca. 1830

Burkley Bullock is born in Louisa County to Abraham and Cynthia Bullock.

November 16, 1855

John R. Jones, a financier and merchant, sells thirty-six enslaved men and women at auction to cover his debts. Among them are Burkley Bullock and Bullock's mother, Cynthia Bullock.

April 7, 1865

In a letter to her aunt, Mary L. Minor indicates that Burkley Bullock emancipated himself, taking his family with him.


Burkley Bullock helps organize the Ivy Creek Baptist Church (now Union Ridge Baptist Church), located at the junction of Earlysville and Hydraulic Roads.

September 1, 1868

Burkley Bullock and his wife, Mary Ann Washington Bullock, purchase a half-share in 243 acres of farmland in Albemarle County near Earlysville.


According to the U.S. Census, Burkley Bullock is the head of a household that includes his wife, Mary Ann Washington Bullock, and eight children.


Burkley and Mary Bullock and William and Caroline Brown are unable to make the final payment on the loan on their parcel of farmland in Albemarle County. William Brown petitions the chancery court to delay a public sale, but the property is ultimately sold.

December 1871

Burkley Bullock purchases a thirty-five-acre Albemarle County lot from John Shackleford for $435.


Burkley Bullock owns seventy-five acres in the vicinity of Hydraulic and Earlysville Roads—the area that is now called Ivy Creek. His farm is assessed at a value of $1,200 and his livestock at a value of $30. He is the head of a household that includes his wife, Mary Ann Washington Bullock, and eight children at home. Four of his children live outside the home.

ca. 1888

Burkley Bullock moves with his family to the city of Charlottesville.


Burkley Bullock is the proprietor of a restaurant at Union Station, opposite the Virginia Midland Railway junction.


Burkley Bullock acts as a financial backer, paying part of the purchase price on two lots in Gospel Hill in Charlottesville only to give up all interest in the property when cosigner Thomas Sammons refunds Bullock's investment as previously arranged.

February 7, 1889

Mary Ann Washington Bullock dies. She is buried at Daughters of Zion Cemetery in Charlottesville.

April 1889

Burkley Bullock and eight other Black businessmen form a joint stock company called the Piedmont Industrial and Land Improvement Company "to extend aid and assistance, financial and otherwise, to persons of limited means in purchasing homes."

May 1889

In its first month of operation, the Piedmont Industrial and Land Improvement Company purchases ten lots in the city of Charlottesville and fifteen or twenty more lots bordering the city.


The University of Virginia yearbook, Corks and Curls, publishes a brief character sketch of Burkley Bullock.

October 1891

The Piedmont Industrial and Land Improvement Company holds a county fair, perhaps the first to be organized by African Americans.

June 22, 1895

Burkley Bullock and Harriet Fleming marry in Albemarle County.

January 23, 1908

Burkley Bullock dies. He is buried at Daughters of Zion Cemetery in Charlottesville.

  • French, Scot. “UVA and the History of Race: Burkley Bullock in History’s Distorting Mirror.” UVA Today, September 4, 2019, https://news.virginia.edu/content/uva-and-history-race-burkley-bullock-historys-distorting-mirror.
  • Henderson, Jean L. Linking the Branches of the Bullock Family Tree: Charlottesville Roots. Self-published, 2000.
  • “ONCE THE SLAVE OF THOMAS JEFFERSON. // The Rev. Mr. Fossett, of Cincinnati, Recalls the Days When Men Came from the Ends of the Earth to Consult ‘the Sage of Monticello’ — Reminiscences of Jefferson, Lafayette, Madison and Monroe.” New York World, January 30, 1898, https://www.monticello.org/slavery/slave-memoirs-oral-histories/recollections-of-peter-fossett/.
  • Perdue, Charles L., Jr., Thomas E. Barden, and Robert K. Phillips, eds. Weevils in the Wheat: Interviews with Virginia Ex-Slaves. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1976.
  • Rawlings, Mary, ed. Early Charlottesville: Recollections of James Alexander, 1828–1874. Charlottesville: Albemarle County Historical Society, 1942.
  • Schulman, Gayle M. “Slaves at the University of Virginia.” Unpublished manuscript, 2004. Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, Charlottesville, Virginia.
APA Citation:
French, Scot. Protected: Burkley Bullock (ca. 1830–1908). (2021, September 14). In Encyclopedia Virginia. https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/burkley-bullock-ca-1830-1908.
MLA Citation:
French, Scot. "Protected: Burkley Bullock (ca. 1830–1908)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (14 Sep. 2021). Web. 27 Sep. 2021
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