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University of Arizona

Primary Resources on Jewish History in Arizona and the Southwest

Capin Business Records (SJA 005)

Hyman Capin (nee Kapinski), was born in Ponevezh, Lithuania, in 1874. In 1892, when he was 18, Hyman emigrated to the United States and settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1906, the Capin family moved to Tucson, Arizona, where Hyman worked as a tailor and eventually operated a dry cleaning establishment.

Tensions on the United States and Mexico border brought a significant military presence into (El Paso) Texas and (Columbus) New Mexico, and in 1913, the Capin family moved to El Paso, Texas, in order to take advantage of Hyman's expertise as a military tailor. In 1916 Pancho Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico and as a result, President Woodrow Wilson dispatched General Pershing and his soldiers on a punitive expedition. As Columbus increased in size, Hyman saw further business opportunities, and opened a branch tailoring and clothing store in 1918, where his son-in-law, Harry Chernin, served as its manager.