Samuel Cowley was born in Franklin, Idaho on July 23, 1899 to parents Matthais F. Cowley and Luella Parkinson. He was the fifth son in the family of nine sons and six daughters. The Cowleys lived here until Sam was six years old and the family relocated to Preston.
Sam attended George Washington Law School and then spent five years with the FBI. He advanced quickly within the ranks and was soon promoted to inspector.
Cowley's reputation brought him to the attention of J Edgar Hoover who selected him to hunt down the notorious mobster, John Dillinger. Cowley tracked him down and Dillinger was killed by FBI agents as he was exiting a theatre in Chicago. Director Hoover then assigned Cowley to bring in Public Enemy #1, "Baby Face Nelson". It took Sam six months to corner Nelson. On November 27, 1934 along a country road in Barrington, Illinois, a shootout ended in the death of Baby Face Nelson. Unfortunately, Sam Cowley and another FBI agent were also killed in the gunfight. Sam Cowley always got his man - even at the cost of his own life. J Edgar Hoover said many times that Sam Cowley was "the Bravest Man He Ever Knew".