“Machine Gun Kelly” might refer to a musician today but for those with a sense of history, it will always refer to the notorious gangster of the 1920s. Born George Kelly Barnes in 1895, the gangster, bootlegger, and eventual kidnapper came from a well-to-do family. His parents were insurance executives but despite the stable upbringings, Kelly chose a life of crime.
Along his wayward road, he met Kathryn Thorne who helped turn him from a petty criminal to one of the first guests of the infamous Alcatraz Prison. Here’s how Machine Gun Kelly went from a failed college student to one of America’s most high-profile criminals.
Kelly's failure to capitalize on his prosperous upbringing led him down a dangerous path.
A Terrible Student
Although Kelly attended Mississippi A&M which later became Mississippi State University, his matriculation did not go well. In his first semester, he received 31 demerits. In the opening weeks of the second, he racked up another 24. His highest grade during his short-lived tenure at the university was a C+, for good physical hygiene. To make matters worse, he fell in love with a woman named Geneva Ramsey, had two kids, and promptly dropped out of school.