Summary of Jail Specifications

Below is a ChatGPT generated summary of the 1879 specifications for the jail and sheriff’s residence.


This report outlines the construction specifications for a jail building in Seneca, Nemaha County, Kansas. The structure will include the jailor’s residence, a female cell, an insane cell, and a large cell room. The following detailed descriptions highlight the necessary work and materials for the project based on the provided specifications and accompanying drawings.

General Description

The building will be constructed using brick with a stone foundation and will include a cellar under the jailor’s residence. The structure will be two stories high, with the cell room being a single-story addition. The front dimensions of the building will be 31 feet 8 inches, with a total depth of 41 feet 1 inch and 51 feet 11 inches.


  • The earth will be excavated to accommodate the foundation walls, footings, and cellar formations.
  • Excavation will also include digging holes for a cistern and cesspool as directed by the commissioners or superintendent.
  • Excess earth and rubbish will be removed from the premises, and the bottom of all trenches will be leveled for footing courses.


  • The foundation stones will be high-quality limestone, laid in lime and sand mortar.
  • Footing courses will be 8 inches thick and progressively wider, with three courses for all walls.
  • Foundation walls will be built to specifications shown in the plans, with rubble work up to ground level, ensuring stones are laid on their natural bed and well-bonded.

Range Work

  • Above-ground stonework will be laid in regular courses ranging from 8 to 12 inches in thickness, with pitched faces and neat joints.
  • Window sills will be 5 inches by 9 inches, with door sills measuring 15 inches wide, both bush-hammered.


  • The cell floors will have a concrete layer composed of spackle and mortar, thoroughly mixed with a ratio of 1/3 cement.

Window Sills and Doors

  • Windows throughout will have box frames with sash, weights, and cords, featuring 1 3/8-inch thick sash.
  • Door sills will be 6 inches longer than the width of the opening, with a 5/8-inch bevel cut, and steps will be bush-hammered.

Brick Work

  • All bricks will be well-burned and merchantable, with exterior bricks uniformly dark red.
  • The cell room will have hollow walls bonded with headers every sixth course, ensuring no joint exceeds 3/8 inch in width.
  • Brick layers will set necessary tiling flues and construct a cesspool lined with 9-inch brick.

Carpenter Work

  • Includes framing and setting stakes and centers, with all joists, ceiling joists, trimmers, lintels, and rafters specified for dimensions and spacing.
  • The portico will feature 10-inch by 10-inch posts with molded caps and bases, and a ceiling of tongue-and-groove pine.


  • Ceilings in the residence and cells will be lathed with seasoned pine and receive two coats of brown mortar, with a third coat of plaster of Paris.

Galvanized Iron and Tin Work

  • The residence will have a galvanized iron cornice, with the roof covered in 1X roofing plated tin, including gutters and downspouts.


  • The cistern will be 8 feet in diameter and 11 feet deep, lined with 9-inch brick walls and a concrete-coated arch, connected to an overflow pipe.

Windows and Doors

  • Windows in the residence and cells will have box frames with sashes, pulleys, weights, and cords. Doors will be four-panel, with exterior doors being 1 5/8 inches thick and interior doors 1 1/8 inches thick.

Hardware and Finish

  • All doors will be hung on bolts and secured with locks, with hardware furnished as required.
  • Interior finishes include plain 6-inch casings with 8-inch base moldings, and floors laid with 7/8-inch flooring boards.


  • Cellar stairs will have open risers and plank treads, while the main stairs will feature turned balusters and handrails.

Painting and Glass

  • All tin work will receive a coat of paint, and interior woodwork will have three coats of lead paint. Glass will be of the best quality, well bedded and trimmed.


  • A 6-inch vitrified clay pipe will run from the kitchen and cells to the cesspool, ensuring proper drainage.

General Conditions

  • Any necessary additions, alterations, or substitutions will be consented to by the contractor and must be approved by the superintendent.
  • The contractor will provide all labor and materials needed to complete the building by the specified date, ensuring all elements are built to specification.


The specifications detailed above provide a comprehensive guide for the construction of the jail and residence in Seneca, Kansas. All work must be completed to the highest standards, ensuring durability, safety, and compliance with the architectural plans and elevations.