Francis Anthony Drexel

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Francis Anthony Drexel
Born(1824-06-20)June 20, 1824
DiedFebruary 15, 1885(1885-02-15) (aged 60)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Hannah Jane Langstroth
(m. 1854; her death 1858)

Emma Mary Bouvier
(m. 1860; her death 1883)
ChildrenElizabeth Drexel Smith
Katharine Drexel
Louise Bouvier Drexel Morrell
Parent(s)Francis Martin Drexel

Francis Anthony Drexel (June 20, 1824 – February 15, 1885) was a Philadelphia banker and philanthropist.

Early life[edit]

Drexel was born on Sixth Street in Philadelphia on June 20, 1824. He was the eldest son born to Francis Martin Drexel and Catherine (née Hookey) Drexel (1795–1870). Among his siblings was two younger brothers, Anthony Joseph Drexel and Joseph William Drexel.[1]


His father worked as a portrait painter in Philadelphia before becoming an exchange broker in 1837. As the business succeeded, Francis and his younger brothers Anthony and Joseph joined the firm. They formed a partnership in 1847 under the name of Drexel & Co. The firm was involved in financing the Mexican–American War, the California Gold Rush, and the Union Army during the American Civil War, as well as the industrial revolution. After his father's death in 1863, Francis declined to run the company, instead providing that younger brother Anthony become the head of the company.[1]

Personal life[edit]

In 1854, Drexel was married to Hannah Jane Langstroth (1826–1858). Hannah was the daughter of Piscator Langstroth and Elizabeth (née Lehman) Langstroth. Together, the parents of two children, Hannah died five weeks after the birth of their second daughter:[2]

In 1860, he remarried to his second wife, Emma Mary Bouvier (1833–1883). Emma was the daughter of Louise (née Vernou) Bouvier and Michel Bouvier, a French cabinetmaker from Pont-Saint-Esprit in southern France who immigrated to Philadelphia in 1815 after having served in the Napoleonic Wars.[5] Emma was an aunt of John Vernou Bouvier Jr., grandfather of Jacqueline (née Bouvier) Kennedy Onassis. They had one child:

His second wife also died before him, dying at their residence in Philadelphia in January 1883.[7] He died at his residence, 1503 Walnut Street in Philadelphia on February 15, 1885.[8] After a funeral at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Philadelphia, he was buried in the Drexel family vault at the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament Cemetery.[9] Of his estimated $15,000,000 fortune, he left ten percent to charity and the remainder in trust for his three daughters.[10]


The Francis A. Drexel Library at Saint Joseph's University is named in his honor. His daughters Elizabeth and Louise founded the St. Francis Industrial School at Eddington, Pennsylvania. They also endowed the Francis A. Drexel Chair of Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Who Was Francis A. Drexel? | Post Learning Commons and Drexel Library". Saint Joseph's University. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Pope to approve step toward sainthood for Mother Drexel". Courier-Post. 20 Nov 1988. p. 31. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  3. ^ "ELIZABETH DREXEL SMITH'S WILL -- Her Real Estate Devised in Fee Simple to Her Husband -- Many Life Annuities Granted--A Diamond Heirloom to Her Sister -- Value the Estate". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 7 Oct 1890. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  4. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "article name needed". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.
  5. ^ Fearon, Peter (1998). Hamptons Babylon: Life Among the Super Rich on America's Riviera. Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 9781559724708. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  6. ^ "MORRELL, Edward de Veaux - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Death of Mrs. Francis A. Drexel". The Times. 31 Jan 1883. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  8. ^ "FRANCIS A. DREXEL". The New York Times. February 16, 1885. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Francis A. Drexel's Funeral" (PDF). The New York Times. 20 February 1885. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  10. ^ "Francis A. Drexel's Will" (PDF). The New York Times. 25 February 1885. Retrieved 20 May 2019.

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