Kelley, the son of Stark County Judge J.S. Kelley and the brother of Cornelia Kelley Hood, one of the nation’s first lady lawyers, joined the Union Army at Camp Massillon, where Oak Knoll Park is now located. A member of the 104th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Captain George Kelley was Massillon’s second Medal of Honor recipient in the Civil War. He earned the citation by capturing the Confederate flag at the battle of Franklin, Tennessee, on November 30, 1864.
After the war, Kelley joined his brothers in a Massillon hardware business. In 1876, he re-enlisted in the Army, serving in the South and the West. After his second discharge, he moved west to homestead 160 acres near Denver.