Rebecca W. Tripp

Rebecca W. Tripp

1854 – 1931

Essay by Steven Lubar, PhD

Exhibit Text from 2020 Special Exhibition

One of these women is likely Rebecca Tripp, the other her sister Patience Crosby. The gentleman is William Tripp, originator of the RI Red. LCHS Collection.

Essay by Steven Lubar, PhD

Rebecca W. Tripp was born in 1854 on her family farm in Little Compton, daughter of William Tripp and Rebecca S. Tripp. At just about the time she was born, her father began his experiments in poultry breeding that would lead to the famous Rhode Island Red. Tripp was a marketman, a teamster who carted Little Compton produce to New Bedford. There he picked up exotic fowls brought back about whaling ships, one a “Cochin China,” the other a “Chitagong.” He spent ten years in cross-breeding these into what became known as the “Tripp fowl.”

It wasn’t until the 1870s that the breed took off, and at first it was only a local success. Rebecca Tripp was the one who deserves the credit for its national popularity. She came up with the idea of selling Rhode Island Red egg sets to poultry fanciers throughout the United States. “She built up a business,” declared the Providence Journal, “which put Rhode Island Reds in every State of the Union.”[1] Tripp kept her flock for more than fifty years.

Rebecca Tripp died 14 November 1931 and is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Fall River.

Steve Lubar, Vice President, LCHS Board of Directors

April 2020

Outdoor exhibit panel from the 2020 special exhibition, The Little Compton Women’s History Project.

Exhibit Text from 2020 Special Exhibition

Rebecca Tripp is the silent partner who deserves credit for the RI Red’s national popularity. Her father William began developing the bird when she was a little girl. William crossed his barnyard chickens with a “Cochin China” and a “Chitagong” brought to New Bedford on whaling ships. In time, he created a hearty bird useful for both meat and eggs. It was first known as the “Tripp Fowl” and later named the “RI Red” by Isaac C. Wilbour. The breed took off in the 1870s, but at first only locally.

Rebecca is the one who launched the RI Red business, not just for her family but for dozens of Little Compton farmers, when she came up with the idea of selling RI Red egg sets to poultry fanciers throughout the United States. “She built up a business,” declared the Providence Journal, “which put Rhode Island Reds in every State of the Union.” Rebecca kept her own flock of income-producing Reds for more than fifty years on her family’s Long Highway farm.

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[1] Providence Journal, November 16, 1924 – page 51