Elvis Presley’s First Four Years: 1935-1939

Elvis Presley and his parents Vernon and Gladys Presley at the age of three.

Elvis Presley is one of the best examples of a rags to riches story. His mother was making $2 a day working for a garment company seven months before his birth. His dad used a $180 loan from Orville Bean his boss at a dairy farm to build the house Elvis was to be born in the next year in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Gladys Presley gave birth to Jesse Garon Presley on January 8, 1935  who was born stillborn before Elvis was born later in the two room house built by his father.

Vernon Presley would be jailed only two years after Elvis was born for altering a check from Bean for a cow Vernon had sold him. He thought the $4 check was not close to what the value of the cow was so added some numbers to it and was charged for forgery. Nobody knows for sure but some say the check was altered to read for $14 or $40.

Vernon along with his brother-in-law Travis Smith and friend Lether Gable were charged with forgery. It is estimated that Vernon spent a total of 15 months in prison on the forgery charge since he couldn’t afford bond while awaiting trial.

With his wife Gladys unable to keep up the payments with Vernon in prison they lost the house and her and Elvis moved in with relatives and so ended the first four years of the life of the one of the most significant entertainers of the 20th century.

Elvis Presley went from living with relatives to being able to buy a $100,000 house named Graceland for his parents about 18 years later.


Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

4 thoughts on “Elvis Presley’s First Four Years: 1935-1939”

  1. Several years ago my wife and I visited Graceland and the next day we visited the two room house Elvis was born in in Tupelo. A very graphic depiction of where he came from and where he went to. Too bad he had to die the way he did, but the way he lived I guess it had to end the way it did.

  2. I have seen both Graceland and his Tupelo home too. It was a huge jump from his Tupelo home to Graceland. The Elvis Presley story is what makes America great. It is sad that he couldn’t walk down the street like a normal person but that goes with the fame.

    If I figure it right his dad missed his third and fourth birthdays.

  3. vernon Presley went to Parchman prison serve 3yrs.
    He got out 1939 ,Elvis entered 7th grade.
    at Milam Junior High School Tupelo Mississippi.
    The family lived at 1010 Green Street Tupelo.
    In August 18,1945 Vernon and gladys Presley
    bought a new 4room house on Berry Street.
    downpayment $200.and $30 month 6% interest.

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