Frederick Marriott was born July 16, 1805 in Enfield, England. He departed London in 1842 to seek his fortune in California where he founded the San Francisco News Letter and California Advertiser in 1856. His other publications included Pacific Coast Mining Journal; California China Mail; Flying Dragon; California Mail Bag; and California News Notes. (At least one letter that Mark Twain published in one of Marriott's paper has been found and is reprinted below.)
Marriott, an enthusiast for air transportation, held offices in the Mongtomery Block of San Francisco. According to one biography of Marriott written by Richard Hernandez:
Marriott eventually acquired the funds to raise the Flying Avitor, a twenty-eight foot model steam-driven airship before an enthusiastic crowd in the summer of 1869. On July 2, 1869, at a park across the bay from San Francisco, Frederick Marriott conducted a public test flight of his flying machine. According to reports from the scene the machine actually became airborne, and briefly flew, both with and against the wind. This event is generally considered the first powered flight of a lighter-than-air craft on this side of the Atlantic. Mark Twain mentioned the news event in his letter to the San Francisco Alta California published Aug. 1, 1869. After its first season, the model burned and was never rebuilt. Marriott died on December 16, 1884 at seventy-nine years of age.
For a comprehensive look at Marriott's life, see:
Photos of Frederick Marriott and the Avitor are courtesy of Dave
Fowler and the San Francisco Museum.
While in San Francisco on business in the summer of 1868, Clemens contributed the following humorous letter to Marriott's newspaper:
Letter and California Advertiser
For more information on Marriott and the Avitor, visit Hiller