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David Holmes Bresee was born in Stanstead, Quebec on February 14, 1894, to an Oscar and Ella Bresee. At some point before the age of five, his family had emigrated to Dorchester, Massachusetts, consisting of himself, his mother and father, his three brothers and his sister Lillian. They did so presumably because of the proximity, and possible suggestion of his Aunt Clara. At some point within the next five years, his father would pass away, leaving the upbringing of David and his siblings to his now widowed mother.
When he was twenty-two, he joined the U.S. Army, and within a year rose to the rank of Corporal. He had been stationed at Camp Devens, now Fort Devens, in the Hotel Company of the 301st Infantry Battalion. It was during this time that he attended the Salem State Normal School nearby. Further records and documentation are scarce, but it is known that he continued to carry out the remainder of his service honorably, and registered for the drafts of both world wars, and that he continued living on Dorchester into at least his fifties.