Cedar County Historical Society & Museum

 1094 Hwy 38 * Tipton, IA * 52772

Bedbug School (Red Oak #1)

Is a traditional one room school house built in 1910 to replace an existing failing building the building, originally located in Red Oak Township, was a state-of-the-art building with all the bells and whistles of the time. It came equipped with a regular furnace that warmed the whole building evenly and kept it much warmer than the old pot-bellied stoves did. When Tipton Schools consolidate in the early 20th century this school along with several others were moved into town and used as additional classroom space until the new school could be completed. After the completion of the new school in 1925 some of the schools were moved to other locations and repurposed and some, like Bedbug were used as storage space for the school. In 1989 the school district offered the school to the historical society and we accepted the building and shortly after moved it to the fairgrounds. Since there had not been a lot of maintenance on the structure the members of the historical society worked to restore and renovate the building. In 1995 it fully furnished as a turn of the century one room school house and opened to the public. In December of 2009, on the same truck as the blacksmith shop the school made its most recent, and last, move to its location today in the Prairie Village. After the move and 14 years of weather it was time to replace the roof and it was painted inside and out. A handicap accessible ramp was added, the floors were refinished, and a school bell hung – folks (kids and adults alike) have a lot of fun ringing that old bell. In 2017 the exterior of the building was painted again as was the interior this year. We offer the use of the school house to county schools and at home students as a place to conduct classes for all or part of a day. It is furnished with a teacher’s desk, a recitation bench, several student desks representing the different styles of student desks available at the turn of the century, a pot-bellied stove (for display only), wood box, water bucket and ladle, lots and lots of books, and even an out house out back (for display only).


A favorite story about the school is how it got its nickname. The story has not been confirmed but goes like this. Apparently, the school was located relatively close to some railroad tracks. When trains stopped near it the tramps who rode the rails back then would disembark and go to the unlocked building to stay out of the elements. They were always gone when the teacher and students arrived but sometimes, they left behind the little pests known as bedbugs. Whether that story is accurate or not does not matter, it is fun to tell and fun to hear as well as give folks an idea of how life was different over 100 years ago.