Matthias Foss Cowley was born to Matthias Cowley and Sarah Elizabeth Foss on 25 August 1858 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory. He served two missions in the southern United States in 1878 and 1882. He was appointed a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in October 1897 and resigned from that position in 1905. Cowley was married to Abbie Hyde, Harriet Benson Harker, and Luella Parkinson. He died in Salt Lake City on 16 June 1940.
 “Cache Valley Joins Entire LDS Church in Mourning Mathias F. Cowley Death,” Herald-Journal (Logan, UT), 18 June 1940, 3; “Matthias Foss Cowley,” in Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History, 1901), 168–172.