Day Kellogg Lee was born in the town of Sempronius, Cayuga County, New York, on 10 September 1816. He was ordained to the ministry in 1835 and served a number of congregations, including the Universalist church at Auburn. In 1865, he became a resident of New York City. Honorary degrees were bestowed upon him by Tufts University (M.A., 1864) and the theological school of St. Lawrence University (D.D., 1868). He was the author of three books on labor issues, Summerfield, or Life on a Farm (Derby & Miller, Auburn, 1852); The Master Builder, or Life at a Trade (New York, 1854); and Merrimack, or Life at a Loom (1854).