“The mob gained entrance and carried him to the public square, where they hung him to a pole in front of the telephone office... The town is quiet tonight.”

- Austin American Statesman, August 12, 1911.

Commodore Jones was lynched by a vigilante mob on August 11, 1911 in Farmersville, Texas, for being rude to the telephone operator. Shack Caldwell was executed for murder, after he killed his former employer in a dispute over unpaid wages, on August 18, 1882, in front of 10,000 people. He was 18 years old.

These were among the first historical events I researched when I moved to Collin County. I traveled to these places to see what mark this violence left on the land. These places begged for context: travel expanded to cover as many of the 886 square miles as I could. Set against the divisive years of the Trump administration, I sought people to tell personal histories, have conversations with, and photograph them where they spoke to me.

Then Marvin Scott III was killed in police custody at the Collin County Jail on March 14, 2021, after being arrested for marijuana possession, a ticketable misdemeanor. The cycle repeated.

 “The Town Is Quiet Tonight” is a photographic project about the past, present, and people of Collin County in Texas. Using medium format film to bring out the details and intricacies of the surroundings, these images provide the viewer the opportunity to study these people and places, as we must do with the people and places in our own lives. Knowledge is power: knowledge of a place, the past, and the people, is the power needed to shatter that cycle, and the courage to move forward.

︎ michael@michaeljschnell.com