David was born in New York, the son of Charles and Phebe Burleson, and one of 14 children. The family moved to Branch County, Michigan, in 1853. His father died in 1855 and David lived with his uncle, Mr. E. T. Gardner, until the Civil War began.
David enlisted at Bronson, Michigan, as a Private on 24 Aug 1861 at the age of 18. Mustered in Co D 11th Michigan Infantry on 24 Aug 1861. He received orders for Louisville, Kentucky, 10 Dec 1861, where his actual military service began. David fought in eight battles, including Stone River, Lookout Mountain, Kenesaw Mountain, and Atlanta. He served a little over three years under Generals Thomas, Grant and Sherman, and was promoted to Full 1st Sergeant on 1 Jul 1864. David received a slight wound at the battle of Atlanta, Georgia. He mustered out 30 Sept 1864 at Sturgis, Michigan.
David returned to Branch County and remained until April, 1867, when he started for the west. He spent two years at Council Bluffs, Iowa, in the grain and produce business, and then returned to Michigan.
David and Addie Shoemaker were married 24 Mar 1869 in Michigan. They moved to Council Bluffs where they lived until Oct 1869, when they moved to Villisca. David was employed in the grain and produce business, and in 1873 loaded the first car of grain that was shipped from Villisca.
Known children: Clarence, Homer, Clara Isabel.
David died in 1899, 4 days before he would have turned 57.