Francis Martin Drexel

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Francis Martin Drexel
Born April 7, 1792
Dornbirn, Vorarlberg, Austria
Died June 5, 1863
Occupation Banker
Spouse(s) Catherine Hookey (m. 1821)
Children Anthony Joseph Drexel
Joseph William Drexel
Francis Anthony Drexel

Francis Martin Drexel (April 7, 1792 – June 5, 1863) was a Philadelphia banker and artist. He was the father of Anthony Joseph Drexel, the founder of Drexel University and the grandfather of Saint Katherine Drexel.


A portrait of Blas Cerdeña by Drexel.
A portrait of San Martín by Drexel.

Drexel was born in Dornbirn, in the Austrian Vorarlberg in 1792. In 1803 he was sent to study Italian and the fine arts in a Catholic institution near Turin. When he returned in 1809 he found Austria invaded by the French, and to escape conscription he crossed the border into Switzerland and then went to Paris, France. In 1812 he returned to the Tyrol incognito. Conscription was still in force, so he went to Bern and continued his study of painting. He sailed for the United States in 1817, from Amsterdam, and settled in Philadelphia. After a few years, he went to Peru and Chile, painting portraits, including one of General Simon Bolivar. He visited South America twice, and went to Mexico.

After his permanent settlement in Philadelphia, he founded the banking house of Drexel & Co. in 1837, which became one of the largest banks in the United States. The original business of Drexel & Co. was discounting privately issued bank notes, the value of which was largely dependent on the character of the principal officers of the issuing bank. The exposure to the principals gained from portrait painting is said to have given Drexel inside knowledge.

The Paris firm, Drexel, Harjes & Co., was founded in 1868, and the New York firm, Drexel, Morgan & Co., in 1871.


Drexel married Catherine Hookey (1795–1870) at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church at Sixth and Spruce streets on April 23, 1821.[1] They had the following children:[2]


Francis died in 1863 and was buried in The Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (dead link)
  2. ^ Rottenberg, Dan (2001). The Man who Made Wall Street: Anthony J. Drexel and the Rise of Modern Finance. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 185. ISBN 9780812236262. 


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