Organized 1 July 1811, the Mechanic Fire Society was the fifth of six fire societies founded in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The society consisted of 25 members who were to answer the fire alarm of their fellow members, assist in the evacuation of property and fight fires. Membership was decided by nomination and ballot, and expenses to the society were borne by all members equally. Under the terms of the society's articles, Wardens were selected who would oversee the protection of members' property removed from their houses. Members were provided with fire buckets, bags, bed key and two standards painted "M.F.S. 1811" so that the location of a fire could be clearly demarcated for members responding to the alarm. Under the terms of Article 6,
Sec. 1st Each member shall keep in good order in some Convenient place in his dwelling house two Leather Buckets, two Bags & one Bed key. The Buckets to be made & painted uniform each Bag to be one & half yards long & three quarters of a yard wide with suitable strings at the mouth.
Sec. 2nd The Buckets & Bags shall be marked with the owners name & the title of the Society & be used on no occasion except in cases of fire under penalty of one dollar.
Sec. 3rd If at any Fire the Buckets or Bags of any member are lost, the Society Shall replace them, Provided diligent search is made to recover them within twenty four hours.
According to records of the Mechanic Fire Society, Jeremiah Johnson was admitted to the Mechanic Fire Society in September 1831. Johnson was a cordage manufacturer at Johnson's Court near South Street who lived at 12 South Street, and later in 1851, 16 Court Street. From 1833 to 1837, he was a Warden for the Society, and in 1844 and 1845, he was its President. Jeremiah Johnson was also a member and Trustee of the Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers. He died 25 August 1864 at age 67 (see "Biographical Roster" Members of the Mechanic Fire Society (Portsmouth, 1966), p. 28).
Several fire buckets from the Mechanic Fire Society have recently come to auction. These include a pair made for Nathaniel Thayer Moulton (Northeast Auctions, 6 August 2000, and previously sold Seaboard Auction Gallery, Eliot, Maine, 6 May 1989), and a single bucket for Ezra Young, No. 2, 1811 (Skinner, 28 and 29 October 2000).