George Graham was born in Pennsylvania around 1851. By 1860, his family had moved to Allen County, Indiana, where his 3-year-old sister Anna was born. In 1870, the family still lived in Allen County and 19-year-old George was working as a railroad foreman.
After announcing his intention to reform, George was arrested in 1873, for grand larceny after stealing a horse. He reacted to the guilty verdict with the “utmost nonchalance,” and observed “I guess they have got me this time.” During sentencing he spoke on his own behalf and requested that his conviction be overturned. His request was overruled, but observers were impressed with his oratorical skills and thought he sounded like a “very fair criminal lawyer.” He served a five-year sentence and was released on Christmas Day, 1877. Prison records described George as having a light complexion with light brown hair, gray eyes, and a temperate disposition. He was not a large man, weighing 139 lbs upon his release from prison.
George’s hometown newspaper reported his escapades regularly:
"The notorious George Graham, whose character was portrayed at length in the Gazette last spring is on the docket of the Circuit Court in the role of defendant in a divorce suit. George has not only been guilty of larceny, horse stealing, forgery, embezzlements, confidence games, obtaining money under false pretenses, assault and battery and other similar eccentricities, but has preached, delivered temperance lectures, studied law, been a telegraph operator and an engineer.
He has been acquitted of numerous crimes, been declared insane by an Allen County Jury, &c., but now languishes in the Michigan City Penitentiary. Among the other incidents of his career was his marriage, which occurred in December, 1872. His wife, Sarah Graham, complains in the Circuit Court that he has deserted and abandoned her, failing to provide for her and her child, and has finally been convicted of an infamous crime."
 Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, May 9, 1873
 Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, May 30, 1873.
 Indiana State Prison Records, (Indiana Digital Archives), Book 2, Page 109.
 Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, September 18, 1873.