Image of Main St., Rochester, New York – 1877 (see link below)
An Eccentric Old Fireman.
Elihu H. Grover, who celebrated lately the 81st anniversary of his birthday, is the oldest fireman in Rochester, New York. His father was killed in the war of 1812, and he went to Rochester in 1814, when the village had 250 inhabitants.
He was at the first fire which occured there. It was at the village grist mill, and young Grover assisted to quench the flames with buckets of water. His certificate of exemption is dated May 20, 1826.
He never saw New York City and Niagara Falls, never rode on a steamboat, and was never in a theater. He remembers the first Fourth of July celebration, at which evergreen bowers were set up and roast pig was publicly served. The veteran fireman never drank liquor or smoked tabacco.
Weekly Reno Gazette (Reno, Nevada) May 22, 1884
Image of “Main St.”, Rochester, New York in 1812
Both images from the Monroe County, NY Records on Rootsweb genealogy website – See their collection HERE.
CERTIFICATE OF EXEMPTION
I didn’t know what this was, so I did some searching and found the following on the Monmouth Co, NJ website:
Eighteenth century New Jersey residents were well aware of the devastating effects of fire, but the State had no involvement in fire fighting until 1826, when a law was passed to encourage the formation of fire companies. Under the December 14, 1826, “Act for the encouragement of fire companies,” fire companies were granted charters, provided that the fire company had one fire engine and between sixteen and thirty men. As an incentive to attract volunteers, firemen were exempted from military duty in time of peace. Twenty years later, through an “Act relative to juries and verdicts,” passed April 17, 1846, members of fire companies also were declared exempt from jury duty.
Even though this is for New Jersey, I would suspect New York had something similar.