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'He's not mischievous': Ghost in haunted candy shop connects owner with town's past

When New Albany Sugar Shoppe moved in on Pearl Street, the owner didn't realize she'd be working alongside a baker from 1820.

NEW ALBANY, Ind. — A Southern Indiana business owner started working her dream job in 2020 when she opened a candy shop. She hired her daughter to help out around the New Albany Sugar Shoppe, but didn't realize a third set of helping hands came with the building. 

A 200-year-old ghost named Fredrick Nolte is connecting business owner Stevie Carper with her community in a way she never expected.

Inside her pink door on Pearl Street in New Albany on the riverfront, before she opens for business, Carper works quickly and efficiently, but never alone.

"Oh yeah, it's my 'can't sneak up on me' mirror," Carper said as she worked in her kitchen, with one of those bubble mirrors you see to look around corners.  "You're sitting here and feel like someone is watching. I can at least look in the mirror and know there's not someone standing behind me."

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Rather than take the ghostly feelings as a cause for concern, Carper started trying to learn more about who could be calling her business home.

"I've got one of those phones in the back, a Halloween phone with a sensor," she said when describing the ways her ghostly friend communicates with her. "It doesn't work but it randomly rings. I'll say, 'Bye Fredrick' and the phone will go 'ring ring.'"

Nolte became the town baker in New Albany after arriving in the states from Germany in 1817. When he mysteriously went missing in 1820, people noticed immediately. 

Police were quickly alerted, and the tips came in about the night Nolte was last seen alive, when he was drinking with his pal John Dahmen. 

"About ten days later, some men were out fishing in the Ohio and they found Fredrick's body," Carper explained of her ghostly friend's untimely death. "They knew this was a murder cause his throat had been slit, and his head had been cracked open."

John Dahmen went on the run, and crossed the border into Canada to try and evade law enforcement. He laid low for a while until he started to seriously miss his wife. 

He sent her a letter written in Danish, but she didn't speak the language, so she took it to a neighbor to translate. The neighbor then went to police with the information learned in the letter. 

Police then came up with a plan to catch Dahmen. An officer dressed as his wife to lure him into a trap, then they slapped cuffs on him and dragged him back into America, where he would face trial for the homicide. 

Nolte's murder marked several firsts in New Albany. This was the first homicide in town history, and Dahmen's conviction and subsequent hanging was also the first in New Albany. The town's first sheriff was responsible for the arrest, first judge presided, and because of all the storytelling surrounding the trial, the town's first newspaper began. 

After his murder, Nolte's bakery became a dry goods store, a ship loading store, a repair shop for boats, a tattoo shop and other businesses. 

When it became a candy shop, it was the first time the space sold food again since Nolte's death.

Carper said she believes the murder took place in a back room of her business, unfinished with dirt floors and old exposed bricks. 

"I think just bringing in candy and making food, cause I make a lot of my candies in the back and stuff, he feels that," Carper said when describing how she isn't scared of her ghoulish buddy in the shop.  "He likes it. It's a part of it."

Nolte's spirit has not done anything considered harmful or dangerous to Carper or her daughter.  In fact, she described a situation where her shop was starting to flood, and she was alerted to the damage quickly by a little push. She felt like it was Fredrick, telling her to be aware before things got worse. 

"He's not mischievous," Carper said with a laugh.  "I just can't get him to clean the floors, that's all."

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