On March 13, Dr. Gerald Bayens from Washburn University spoke to the Great Bend Rotary club about his book on Kansas frontier jails. He explained that a jail was often one of the first structures needed in a newly founded town.
The first structures were often of wood, then of concrete or limestone, depending on the local resources.
Later, prefabricated jails were purchased from out-of-state vendors and incorporated into courthouses and jail facilities. The jails not only held the prisoners, but were often the home or office of the local constable or sheriff.
The jails also helped protect the prisoners from potential lynching by outraged townsfolk, which was a not uncommon occurrence. Many frontier jails have been preserved in such towns as Lecompton and Council Grove, among many others.