he old Cedar County Jail in Tipton, Iowa, is on lots 7 & 8 of Block 19, of the original town of Tipton. This is on the southwests corner of the block on the intersection of Fourth Street and Lynn Street, one block west of Iowa State Highway 38. It functioned as a working jail from its construction and opening as a jail in mid-November 1892, and continued to serve as a jail until April 13, 2001 when a new jail was opened in Tipton.
he town of Tipton came into existence in 1840 when the county comissioners (now called supervisors) chose the geographical center of the county of cedar to become the county seat. The town was named Tipton, after General Tipton of Indiana, a friend of one of the commissioners. Cedar County is in South-east Iowa. Interstate 80 runs east and west across the southern part of the county, and US Highway 30 (Lincoln Highway) runs north and south across the center of the county. Cedar county is most famous for being the birthplace of Herbert Hoover, former President of the United State. Tipton is west of the Davenport Quad Cities area, east of Cedar Rapids, east of Iowa City (home of the University of Iowa), and west of Clinton.
he jailers' residence of the Cedar County jail, which is attached to the jail, was constructed in 1855 of brick, with white woodend porch and trim. It is still in good well maintained condition. The jail proper was completed in mid-November 1982, and is also of brick construction.
he jail building was laid out so that the southeast corner of the jail touched the northwest corner of the jailers' residence. The jail is constructed of brick, iron, slate and cement. In the clear, it is 19' by 22' with 12 inch walls. Heavy steel doors were installed on the north and east. The jail had windows with bars on them to the north, west and south. Iron cells were assembled in the rooms to restrain prisoners.
he jail contains three separate cells, a day-room for the main cell block area, and a vestibule area for the admittance and release of prisoners. The main cell block area contains two cells; one that contains four bunks, but no toilet facilities, and a second cell that contains two cells and a toilet/lavatory. The beds are stacked two to each side of the four-person cell and two on one side in the two person cell, with the toilet on the other side. Each of these cells has a heavy steel door with bars on it. these doors open into a small common area 16' x 14' in size. This common area has a steel door with bars on it that opens into the day room. The day room contains the shower and dining/recreation area. Another steel door with bars on it separates the day room from the vestibule area. North, off the vestibule area, is a third cell with four beds, a toilet and lavatory. this cell was originally designed to house female prisoners or juveniles, but in later years usually contained male prisoners. The total capacity of the jail is 10 prisoners - all of this in a building that is 19' x 22' in size. The cells are approximately 6'9" x 7' in size, and each bed is 6'9" x 2' in size.
he Cedar county Jail was one of the last jails in Iowa, if not the entire country, that was called a "Mom and Pop" jail. That is, Mom (often the sheriff's wife) did the cooking and Pop (often the sheriff) did the supervision and running of the jail. The sheriff and his wife (or deputy sheriff and his wife) resided in the living quarters that are attached to the jail.
n 1977, Keith L. Whitlatch took office as sheriff, he hired civilians to serve as jailers and to prepare the meals. This practice continued up to 2001 when the jail ceased to function as a place to incarcerate prisoners.
n 2002 the Cedar County Jail was owned by the Cedar County Supervisors, who were trying to decide how to dispose of the property. Possible uses of the property have ranged from razing the building and using the ground for a parking lot or building site to retaining the building and restoring and preserving it as a museum. Although the building now no longer serves as a jail, it is a very interesting and unusual old building. Application was made b noted Cedar County Historian, Donald F. Stout, in 1982 to get the jail and house on the national Registry of Historical Places. No additional follow-up has been made to gt the National registry status. Keith L. Whitlatch has served as Cedar County Sheriff from January 1, 1977 to December 31, 1999 and has said that no changes or alterations have been made to the jail or house building since the time of the application for National Registry status in 1982. After the Cedar County Friends assumed control of the facility, application was made to get on the National Registry for the House and Jail. This was successful.