George H. Cary was born in Chesterfield Co., VA, the son of Rev. Peter Minor and Rhoda Cox Cary. He moved to Louisville in 1827, becoming a clerk for Dr. Daniel Wilson at his drug store. In 1833 he began working with William M. Pettit, leaving there to open his own apothecary in 1837. The store was first on Main Street between 3rd and 4th, second on Market Street with the final store located at the corner of Seventh and Walnut (now Muhammad Ali).
In 1841 Cary married Mary Berryman of Woodford County and they had at least nine children, two of them, George H., Jr. (1851-1895) and Edward (1853-1936), going into the drugstore business with their father.