Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

The tale of Sarah Jane – WT’s resident ghost

West Texas A&M University students encounter scary things every day, like battles for parking, bats and rumors of ghosts that go bump in the older buildings on campus. Since 1919, student journalists at The Prairie have reported on these haunting rumors, and past editions of The Prairie are housed in the archives at the Cornette Library.

“We have every edition of The Prairie from 1919, up through [2019], when it stopped being in print and we are going through the process of digitizing them,” Patrick Deipen, an archivist at the Cornette Library, said.

Past issues of The Prairie discuss the haunting of Stafford Hall, which once stood on the corner of Russell Long Blvd. and 23rd Street and was demolished in 2019. Reporters at The Prairie have also shared the tale of Sarah Jane, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum’s (PPHM) resident ghost.

“Custodial worker, Ann Bacon saw a ghostly woman, who identified herself as Sarah Jane; she looked like a young woman in her twenties and was seen standing close to the horse-drawn ambulance,” reporter Sarah Jo Miller wrote for The Prairie in 2013. “Bacon and others have consistently described her appearance as a long, full, cotton printed dress with dark reddish-brown hair. Some have even said she swings a bonnet by the ribbons as well.”

According to PPHM’s Director of Operations, Buster Ratliff, the spirit of Sarah Jane is attached to a Red Cross wagon that the Museum had on display for a World War I exhibit decades ago.

“And that was where, you know, we started kind of having some weird activity and in the exhibit,” Ratliff said, clarifying that the activity happens when the wagon is moved. “And they’d come back the next day, and the labels would be in different places, or things would be laying on the floor. And just like weird stuff that you know. I mean, it could have been a million things, but it’s fun to say it was, you know, Sarah Jane was upset we moved the wagon.”

Currently, Sarah Jane’s wagon is housed alongside other artifacts in storage at PPHM. The museum itself opened its doors in 1933.

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  • Print editions of The Prairie changed in size as style and technology evolved over the years. Since 2019, The Prairie News is a fully online newspaper.

  • Past editions of Le Mirage, West Texas A&M University’s discontinued yearbook, are also housed in the Cornette Library. Patrick Diepen, an archivist at the Library, invited students to come and look through the old yearbooks for Halloween costume inspiration.

  • A common goal of the Cornette Library and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum (PPHM) is to preserve the past.

  • PPHM curates and shares much of the region’s history.

  • Sarah Jane’s wagon is still housed in the basement at PPHM. Buster Ratliff, director of operations for PPHM, said that museum workers sometimes experience strange activity after the wagon is moved.

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“This building is big, and there’s a lot of corners, and there’s a lot of shadows,” Ratliff said. “And there’s a lot of mannequins and glass and different, you know, that can cast different shadows and things that can kind of mess with your mind.”

Deipen said that many Canyon locals have their own stories of strange noises heard on campus.

“If you spent any amount of time in PPHM, you’re gonna hear it make noises,” Deipen said. “And you can; obviously, you can think it’s ghosts if you want, especially if it’s more fun. I mean, it is the season.”

Issues of The Prairie from 1919 can be found in the Cornette Library’s digital repository. The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and entry is free for WT students.


Jo Early
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About the Contributors
Jo Early
Jo Early, Editor-in-Chief
Hello, my name is Jo Early and I am a senior digital communication & media major from Amarillo. I transferred from Amarillo College in Spring 2023 and began working as editor-in-chief in Fall 2023. I want to inform the West Texas A&M Community and spotlight student resources. In the future, I hope to work for NPR.
Bryson Ramage
Bryson Ramage, Audio and Video Editor
I'm Bryson Ramage, pursuing a degree in digital media & communication at West Texas A&M University. Following my graduation in May 2024, I aspire to enter the field of funeral directing and embalming.

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