Born: 1826-XX-XX Ohio
By 1830, George High's father Isaac had settled his family in Warren County, Indiana. The family gained a reputation by the early 1850s for allegedly running a horse theft operation, of which George purportedly became the leader. The so-called Redwood Gang was said to be active on both sides of the Illinois-Indiana border. High reportedly escaped custody for horse stealing in 1849 with the assistance of his father but was recaptured and by the time of the 1850 census, was a resident in jail in Warren County for the crime. The census described him as a farmer. Three years later, High was captured by a vigilante group for stealing horses and was taken to Danville for trial, where he retained Abraham Lincoln and Ward H. Lamon to represent him. The case went to trial in 1855 and High was convicted and served time in the Illinois State Penitentiary in Alton, but Lincoln petitioned successfully for a pardon late in 1857. In 1858, a Missouri newspaper reported that High had been brought back to that state from Indiana to be tried for passing counterfeit money. By the early 1850s, High had a wife and numerous small children, and at the time of his 1855 incarceration, High reported that his wife resided in Missouri. In his penitentiary registration, High also reported that he was not a member of any church.
George R. Dekle, Sr., Prairie Defender: The Murder Trials of Abraham Lincoln (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2017), 96-100; Indiana State Sentinel (Indianapolis), 17 January 1850, 3:5; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Warren County, IN, 95; People v. High, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=136602; Illinois Department of Corrections & predecessor agencies, Register of Illinois Prison Records, Illinois State Prison (Alton), 4:128, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; LaGrange National American (MO), 25 September 1858, 2:3.