The Hossack Case
Harrison (Harry) McNeil (Prosecutor)
Harry McNeil was born in Indiana in 1834 and moved to Iowa after he had completed his schooling. He opened an office in Indianola in 1862 and practiced law in the city for more than forty years. He was known for his integrity and for his energetic pursuit of his clients' interests. In 1897, he defended the McCuddin brothers in the alleged murder of a young man named Edward Knotts. Three years later, he agreed to assist George Clammer in the prosecution of Margaret Hossack, after newspaper articles questioned whether Clammer was experienced and capable enough to secure a conviction. McNeil's well-earned reputation lent credibility to the county attorney's cause, and McNeil proved to be an aggressive questioner in court. He delivered an emphatic closing argument in which he compared John Hossack to Abraham Lincoln, and declared that “Never since the crucifixion of Christ has there been a crime of more hideous nature than this.” McNeil called on jurors to convict Margaret Hossack and sentence her to death. The case was one of the last of McNeil's long career. He died in 1910.