Everett “Jonesie” Jones deftly weaves his less-than-modern mode of transportation in and out of Bardstown’s downtown traffic. While guiding a carriage pulled by one of his eight Percheron horses, he spouts historical facts and dates about the sites we pass. His company, Around the Town Carriage & Stagecoach—a two-time winner of the Talk of the Town Customer Satisfaction Award—has become part of the Bardstown landscape.
“Back in 1985, it sort of started out as part-time but quickly became seven days a week because people like to ride in carriages,” says Jonesie. “It just slows life down a little.”
Riding with the therapeutic clip-clop of 23-year-old Miss Kitty, as she slowly pulls her out-of-town visitors along a route she no doubt could navigate without Jonesie’s guidance, is one of the best ways to see and learn the history of the town.
“Had her since she was 3,” Jonesie says. His occasional light tug on the reins is nothing more than letting Miss Kitty know that he is still there.
“The courthouse here was built in 1819, and the yellow building over to the left is a fine restaurant,” says Jonesie, slightly turning his head so his passengers can hear. “Bardstown was actually called Salem in the beginning … over there is a little gingerbread house; over 123 years old. And the little house on the left is a 1937 Sears and Roebuck catalog house; cost $2,400.”
Strangers and friends alike wave to us as the carriage rolls along, negotiating the rush-hour traffic around the downtown courthouse without ever stopping.
“There’s the Spalding Dry Goods building, built in 1856; still owned by the same family. Over there on the left … over there on the right,” his narration continues.
“I was probably born 100 years too late,” says Jonesie. “I love the Wild West days—you know, John Wayne, Roy Rogers and Matt Dillon. My dad was a farmer and blacksmith, and I’ve been shoeing horses since I was 11. Been around them all my life. I used to ride them when I was 4 while Dad plowed tobacco and corn.”
Jonesie tells us he has horses named Matt, Jessie and Frank (for the notorious James brothers). “I also have a spotted Draft that my granddaughter named Dip ’N Dots,” he adds.
That granddaughter, Kaydence, though only 6 years old, just may be the future of the Bardstown carriage rides. “She’s amazing,” Jonesie says. “Been around horses since she was born, and actually drove a carriage in the Pegasus Parade in Louisville when she was 4.”
Around the Town Carriage & Stagecoach is located just a couple of blocks from Bardstown’s Courthouse Square. The almost life-size fiberglass horses in front of the business are easy to spot. Frequently, visitors can be seen posing in front of them for a picture.
Jonesie’s carriage inventory includes two Cinderella buggies, a stagecoach and what he refers to as a cocktail limousine. “It’s where passengers can face each other while they’re riding along,” he says.
Jonesie doesn’t limit his business just to Bardstown. “I’ve had my horses and carriages in North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and all over Kentucky,” he says. “You wouldn’t believe where all they’ve been. We were in a church near Shepherdsville and even in Lost River Cave in Bowling Green for a wedding.”
There would be no way Jonesie could single-handedly meet the demand for his business, so he calls on Brandon Biven, son Dubby and son-in-law Tony Kays to help out in this year-round business.
As relaxing as carriage rides can be, Jonesie says they are not without an occasional mishap. “We’ve been rear-ended three times by cars,” he says. “Tore the buggy up but didn’t hurt the horses.”
There was a time five years ago when Jonesie wasn’t sure if he’d ever drive his carriages again. “I was picking up some passengers at one of the hotels,” he says. “Something spooked the horses, and I got knocked under the carriage. The wheels ran over me and crushed my whole body. I was in the hospital [for] 22 days.”
Jonesie has carried quite a few famous people around Bardstown over the decades. “Oh, there’s been a bunch of ’em,” he says with a laugh. “I guess one of the big names was Dustin Hoffman a few years back.”
If you go …
Around the Town Carriage & Stagecoach
223 North Third Street, Bardstown
(502) 348-0331 or (502) 249-0889