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Trifles and Treats

A Glaspell Gala

Sunday August 20, 2 PM

Program will Include:

Trifles, by Susan Glaspell

Intermission, including Musical Interlude



Flourless Chocolate Cake


Brief Presentation by Prison Museum Docent

Sometimes I Sing, by Milbre Burch

The History

The one-act Trifles (August 20 fundraiser) was loosely based on the 1900 murder of a successful Wright county farmer, John Hossack. Margaret Hossack, his wife, was the main suspect, arrested and tried for the murder. Susan Glaspell was a reporter for the Des Moines Daily News and covered the story from the discovery of the body in December of 1900 through the end of the trial, April 11,1901.

In 1916, Glaspell wrote the one act Trifles, which is loosely based upon her recollection of the Hossack case. Trifles is NOT a retelling of the Hossack murder. There exists, however, a strong spirit of the accused, Margaret Hossack, which will not completely absent itself from the play, nor subsequent writings, including several books about the murder.

Glaspell's accused farmwife in Trifles is called Minnie Wright. Minnie is the only character in Milbre Burch's one-act Sometimes I Sing (also playing on August 20); it is set in the Anamosa State Reformatory while Mrs. Wright is held there for her husband's murder.

Below is a guideline to the real and the fiction of the Hossack murder case of 1900.


John Hossack dies of head wounds received while sleeping in his bed.

At the end of John Hossack's funeral, his wife, Margaret,is arrested.

1900 (Fiction)

Glaspell's protagonist is named Minnie Wright. Unseen, she sits in the local jail as the Sheriff and County Attorney search everything at the farmhouse looking for a motive to convict her.


Margaret Hossack  is tried in a sensational trial in Indianola, Iowa, and found

guilty.  Susan Glaspell covers the events for the Daily News.


Margaret is sent to the Anamosa State Prison Women's Department

1901 (Fiction)

Sometimes I Sing covers one day in the life of Minnie Wright as she speaks to a reporter in the Anamosa State Prison Women's Department visitor room in 1901.


Margaret Hossack is given a retrial which results in a hung jury and the state of

Iowa decides not to retry Margaret. She lives out her life as a free woman.


Susan Glaspell writes Trifles, about a farmer John Wright murdered in his bed.

Trifles covers only the initial investigation by the county attorney and Minnie Wright is never seen on stage.


Milbre Burch presents a one woman show, Sometimes I Sing, set in 1901.

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