Categories: Nominated Profiles | Outlaws | Bootleggers and Moonshiners | U.S.Penitentiary, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas | Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, San Francisco Bay, California | Gangsters | American Notables.
George attended Mississippi A&M College and later married Geneva Ramsey when he was 19. The couple had two sons together before divorcing. Geneva told The New York Times after his arrest that she divorced him because he was "running in bad company."
Having a car and driver's license, George started running for bootleggers while still in high school. After marrying, he tried legitimate work but failed completely after the death of his father-in-law. George used bootlegging to support himself. 
Organized crime became a major feature of the American landscape during Prohibition. Alcohol consumption was scarcely impacted, due to gangsters willing to supply "bootleg" alcohol who made fortunes.
George was as arrested for selling illegal liquor in 1927 and spent a few months in jail in New Mexico. Nabbed again soon after, this time for selling liquor on an Indian reservation, Kelly did time at Leavenworth Prison in Kansas. While incarcerated, he made friends with several bank robbers, including Charlie Harmon, Frank Nash, Francis Keating, and Thomas Holden, and was believed to have helped Keating and Holden escape.
After his release from prison in 1930, Kelly traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota, with his girlfriend Kathryn Thorne, who he married later that year. There, he reunited with Keating and Holden and participated in a bank hold-up with the pair. Continuing his crime spree, Kelly was involved in bank robberies in several states, including Iowa, Texas, and Washington. According to legend, Kelly's wife helped build his reputation, buying him a machine gun and nicknaming him after the weapon. She also reportedly gave away shell casings from his exploits to people as souvenirs to increase his notoriety.
Kelly's most famous crime was the kidnapping of oil tycoon and businessman Charles F. Urschel in July 1933, known as the Urschel kidnapping, for which he and his gang collected a $200,000 ransom. Their victim had collected and left considerable evidence that assisted the subsequent FBI investigation that eventually led to Kelly's arrest in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 26, 1933. 
|FITCHBURG SENTINEL, Massachusetts, September 26, 1933|
The case that followed was significant in that it was the first court case to allow cameras in the court room, as well as the first case that followed the Lindbergh Laws which made kidnapping a federal offense.
George and Kathryn both received life sentences. He was to serve his in Leavenworth, Kansas, and Kathryn was sent to a federal prison in Cincinnati. In August 1934, Kelly was transferred to Alcatraz after making threats to free the both of them out of prison in time for the Christmas holidays. When he arrived at Alcatraz on September 4, 1934, he was among the first groups of prisoners to be incarcerated there.
Kathryn Kelly and her mother were released from prison in 1958.
George is featured or mentioned frequently in popular culture, such as in the 1971 James Taylor popular song, Machine Gun Kelly.
A comic book titled Pretty, Baby, Machine was issued in a limited edition in 1933. The title refers to protagonists Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, and Machine Gun Kelly who come together to fight Al Capone.
Machine Gun Kelly is credited with being the one to coin the phrase G-Men as slang for FBI.
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On 22 Nov 2018 at 01:11 GMT Paul Gierszewski wrote:
On 29 Jul 2018 at 21:20 GMT Toni Moore wrote:
If George Barnes (A.K.A. MGK) is 28 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and I am 27 degrees from her (Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland) then how close am I to him?? Toni
On 18 Jul 2018 at 17:35 GMT Cathleen Bachman wrote:
On 17 Jul 2018 at 19:39 GMT Debbie (Fink) Thomas wrote:
George is 24 degrees from Walter Morrison, 31 degrees from Alison Wilkins and 21 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.