Greenway Downs

A Community Since 1942

Post Civil War and the Tripp Family


Silas Tripp operated his newly acquired acreage as a dairy farm and established Tripp's Quarry, which was located at the eastern end of his property. The quarry ceased to operate as a quarry after 1915, but on the present day site stands  the Quarry Inn Motel and Sisler's Stone. The creek that flows from Lee highway south to Route 50, through both Greenway Downs and Jefferson Village,  is still called Tripp's Run.

What we know about Greenway Downs as a farm and its inhabitants is gleaned from Silas & Sarah Shardlow Tripp's obituaries,  Sarah's will, and their only surviving son Percy Tripp's letters to his business administrator after the death of his parents.

Silas Tripp (1834-1915) and Sarah Shardlow (1846-1911) were born and raised in the state of New York. They married in Manhattan, New York July 7, 1870, shortly before the death of Sarah's father, Samuel Shardlow.  Prior to his marriage Silas was involved in land deals in Fairfax County and it is unclear at what point the family moved here because both their sons born were born in New York.  

The Tripp's  first son, Edward Shardlow Tripp was born in 1871 but died at the age of 16 and was buried  in the family plot in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.

Their second son,  Percy B. Tripp, was born in New York December 5, 1881 and was raised in Falls Church. He graduated from Columbia University in 1906, was ordained, and moved to Tientsin, China to pursue missionary work. Percy returned to the U.S. several times on the lecture circuit, but he was in China when his mother died in 1911 and still there when his father died in 1915. It is pretty clear from Sarah's will that she brought quite a bit of money to the marriage and was very instrumental in making sure Percy inherited Oak Mount, the farm, and the quarry. 

Percy married a Chinese citizen, Su Hsien Ho, April 5, 1915 in Tientsin, China. He did not return to the United States until September, 1918, accompanied by wife and son, Jonathan. Percy's inheritance of Oakmont, the farm and the quarry had been handled by his business manager in his absence. and Percy's return in 1918 was more directly related to the politics of World War I rather than the desire to live here and run the farm, or the quarry. In fact, when Percy was interviewed by a newspaper at the time, he declared he was giving up his American citizenship and defended his marriage to a Chinese national!

Percy's life and work in China, his travels, family, and financial woes are beautifully woven into a narrative you can read in a series of letters he wrote from 1918 to 1929 to his business managers in Falls Church. His first manager was George Mankin, and after his death Merton E. Church. Sadly, we follow Percy's inability to manage his finances and his subsequent loss of Oakmount and the farm when the Falls Church Bank auctioned it all off in 1925.

So what became of Percy B. Tripp and his Chinese family? In 1927, Percy and his family were back in the United States and his last letter to his business manager was mailed from Colorado. On January 29, 1932 there was a legal notice in the Fairfax Herald in which Ernest W. Miller was bringing suit against Percy B. and Su Hsien Tripp over a piece of property in Fairfax County but that the last known address for Percy was in China.

Our final reference for Percy is on p. 444 of  "Falls Church by Fence & Fireside" by Melvin Lee Steadman (1964). The author listed Percy Tripp's children as follows:

John (1917)

Helen (1919)

Virginia (1922)

Myrtle (1924)

Eunice (1927)

Bernice (1930)

Kenneth (1932)

(note: Except for Helen and Virginia, all the children were born in China.)