William Tripp (1824-91) of Little Compton was the man most responsible for the development of a breed of hens known as “the Rhode Island Red,” a fowl that has been designated the state bird.
Tripp operated a farm on Long Highway in Little Compton where he conducted breeding experiments with various kinds of poultry in association with John Macomber of nearby Westport, Massachusetts. Beginning in 1854, they crossed Malay and Java cocks with Cochin China hens. Isaac C. Wilbour then crossed the resulting breed, called “Tripp fowls,” with Light Brahmas, Plymouth Rocks, and Brown Leghorns, the final product being a breed with both a high egg yield and more flesh for consumption. Two professors at the agricultural experiment station in Kingston, Samuel Cushman and A. A. Brigham, also contributed to the development of this new super chicken, that Wilbour named “the Rhode Island Red.”
Two monuments to this famous bird can be found in Little Compton–one on Long Highway across from the Tripp farmhouse and a second on Main Street in Adamsville.