Born in 1843 in New York City, NY to Jeptha and Mary Hinkman Dodd, David was the youngest of nine children. In April of 1862, at the age of 19, David enlisted in Company K of the 111th New York Infantry and served for the remainder of the Civil War. He was then discharged on September 26, 1865 due to the close of the war. He served in the Infantry again during the Spanish American War, serving from April of 1898 to April of 1899.
Dodd married Louisa Kennedy on July 10, 1872 in Delhi, Michigan. They eventually parted ways, and Louisa remarried in 1891. Throughout his lifetime, David was diagnosed with arthritis, cardiac hypertrophy, arterial sclerosis, and hypertrophied prostate, among other conditions. A carpenter, he claimed Wisconsin as home when not receiving treatment at Battle Mountain Sanitarium. He first entered into Battle Mountain in January of 1906 and was discharged of November of the same year. He returned for treatment in May of 1912 and passed away on September 20, 1912 from chronic diffuse nephritis. David is interred at the Hot Springs National Cemetery.