George Kelly Barnes was born in Memphis on July 18, 1885. He went to Idlewild Elementary and Central High School, living a comfortable and uneventful life. But when he went to Mississippi State University in 1917, his problems began.
His grades were terrible and he stayed in trouble with his teachers. He got married, had two children, dropped out of school, and got divorced. Things went from bad to worse. It was the era of prohibition and he found a career in bootlegging.