When Heather Seferovich showed this picture during her lecture on November 14, and identified the missionary to John Morgan's right as Elder Matthias Cowley she solved one of my mysteries. Matthias Cowley was student and friend to John Morgan. He attended the Morgan College as a young man and served as a missionary under President John Morgan in the Southern States Mission. He was with John Morgan in 1894 when he died.
From John Morgan's journal of February 18-23, 1878, Salt Lake City, Utah. Have been busy all week getting information relative to the Southern Mission. Bro. Barnett came in from Payson on the 21st and on the 22nd he and Bro. Cowley and Bro. Weeks were set apart the two first to Kentucky, the latter to Illinois, Bro. Cowley was set apart under my hands, my first effort... Bro. Cowley had supper with me.
The 1880 conference reported below by Elder Matthias Cowley may be the conference President John Morgan was speaking at when he learned his friends hadn’t been able to attend because of an ill child. He insisted he travel to visit them following the meeting. Upon his arrival he learned their child had passed away. The incident was described in the letter posted here previously.
The Work in the South.
Tilson’s Mill, Blande Co. Va., February 12, 1880.
Editors Deseret News.
Dear Brethren—The following are the minutes of a two day’s conference held in this district at the Litz School-house, Burk’s Garden, Tazewell County, Va., Saturday and Sunday, February 7th and 8th, 1880.
Saturday 10 a.m.
Elders present: Elder John Morgan, President of the Southern States mission; Wm. W. Fife and Matthias F. Cowley, traveling elders in the Virginia Conference.
President Morgan addressed the congregation on the gathering of the Saints, in which he spoke forcibly of Zion extending her borders, and the settlement of the Saints in Colorado,
Recommending the Saints to gather to that point and assist in building up the kingdom of God.
Elder Fife addressed the people present on the first principles of the gospel and bore a strong testimony to the truth of the same.
Elder Cowley spoke of the necessity of the Saints living their religion and as soon as practicable gathering to Zion.
President Morgan followed with a spirited address, principally on gathering, and being governed by the revelations of God.
Sunday 10 a.m.
In addition to the Elders present on the first day, were Elders George R. Hill and Richad A. Ballantyne, from the Tennessee conference.
President Morgan delivered an excellent discourse on the pre-existent, present and future life of man, and the resurrection, by request of the children of Brother Philip Heninger, in honor of their father and mother, deceased members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A large congregation were in attendance and paid strict attention to the instructions given.
Elder George R. Hill addressed the congregation in a spirited manner on the unchangeable character of the gospel, bearing a strong testimony to the truth of its principles.
Elder Cowley followed on the first principles of the gospel and promises made to the Saints on conditions of obedience to God’s commandments.
Since the 29th of last June 51 souls have been added to the Church and 27 emigrated from this district. Prospects are favorable for more baptisms in the near future, and the Saints generally are anxious to gather to Zion. During the past summer the Elders have been going out into the surrounding country and finding openings to preach in different localities. Invitations have been given us to hold meetings in several neighborhoods, where we have not been able to devote any time on account of the limited force of elders in this district.
There are good openings for several more good energetic elders in this immediate section of country, while there are doubtless thousand of people in the surrounding counties, as well as throughout the Southern States who never heard the voice of an elder in Israel. This power of God has been manifest in our labors. The honest in heart are convinced of the truth by “hearing the word of God,” while the Pharises element who seek for a sign, thereby prove themselves to being a “wicked and an adulterous generation.”
John Hamilton Morgan Journal, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Utah Digital Newspaper Project, http://digitalnewspapers.org/