David Lees was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and immigrated to the United States in 1851. He first apprenticed as a stone cutter in New York City. Thereafter he moved to Chicago and then to Iowa. In 1860 he came to Gold Hill in Boulder County. He engaged in mining there, at Nevada in Gilpin County, and at Georgetown in Clear Creek County for several years. In 1874 he settled on a farm 5 1/2 miles east of Golden along Clear Creek. In 1883 he served as the first president of Vasquez Precinct School District Number 32. In his later years he raised fruit on his orchard farm.