Cedar County Historical Society & Museum

 1094 Hwy 38 * Tipton, IA * 52772

Tipton Schools (Jan-Mar 2019)

Recently on the Cedar County Historical Society's page on Facebook an image of a postcard showing the Tipton grade school and Tipton high school brought up a round of conversation that left questions unanswered.  Having just found the article below I though I would share to help dispel some of the myths surrounding these original schools. Above are pictures that appeared with the article and one of the Union School from a postcard. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.


First School in 1841 by Marcia Schmidt

Tipton’s first school was opened in a log house during the winter of 1841-42 (one year after Tipton was designated the county seat). This school was located where the Tipton State Bank (Present day -2018- US Bank) now stands and the only books were an arithmetic book and a McGuffey’s reader. Eight students attended this school when it was first opened.

A frame school was erected in addition to the log school during 1843-44. Both of these schools served until 1853, when a brick schoolhouse was built. This school was enlarged in 1856 when an L was built onto the west end.


C.C. Nestlerode can be given much credit for the building and the development of the Union school in 1856. Mr. Nestlerode was the first superintendent over a student body of 300 and was one of the first men to support and fight for free schools in Iowa (free education was established in Iowa during 1875). He also had the idea of building a separate school that would be Tipton’s first high school. He received his wish in 1866 when a small brick building was constructed to house the younger children.

The high school was abolished for a few years when a new building was built in 1879 that housed the entire student body. This one school was able to serve the entire student enrollment until 1895, when a new high school building was erected.


Tipton decided to build a new school that would house the grades and the Junior and Senior high schools in 1924. This building was badly needed because Tipton’s student enrollment had been increased by 450 students when the country school consolidated with the Tipton school in 1920. This building was one of the first in Iowa to have a gymnasium and auditorium for both the grades and the Junior and Senior high schools, an electric clock system and a ventilation system. The Tipton school became unique in Iowa when a Junior College was also opened in 1927. (This meant that our present school at one time held 15 grades ranging from kindergarten through Junior college.)


An elementary school was later opened in 1958 to accommodate the increased school enrollment. This school housed grades kindergarten through second grade until 1966 when an addition was built on that enabled the third and fourth graders to move from the old school.

Our present high school has been enlarged several times. The veterans memorial prided Tipton with a new gym, a swimming pool and new locker rooms. The most recent addition, the Commons area, was build in 1967 and added a new lunchroom, locker room and study hall. (Tipton Conservative December 10, 1968)

Tipton Union School - 1856

Tipton Grade School - 1879

Tipton High School - 1895

Tipton Consolidated School - 1925