Edward Titcomb was born in Windham, NH to a shipping merchant family. He attended public schools before traveling west to work in silver mining. After settling in Nogales, he headed south and worked in Mexico. In 1889, he formed a partnership with Colonial Billy Roy and started the Arizona and Sonora Manufacturing Company. He also served as a primary organizer of the 1st National Bank of Nogales and was a director of Nogales Electric Light, Ice and Water Company. In their heyday, Roy & Titcomb supplied the mines with heavy machinery and later expanded their business into a foundry and a number of lumber mills. Known for their quality products, Titcomb’s company manufactured manhole covers that can still be found on the streets of Nogales.
Hyman Capin, a native of Lithuania, arrived in the US in 1890 and eventually worked his way west to Nogales. A tailor by trade, Capin took advantage of the military build-up during the Mexican Revolution and designed and manufactured uniforms for the American officers and soldiers. With the closure of Camp Little and the departure of the military, Capin was forced to fold his uniform company, and in 1920, he purchased the El Paso clothing store on Morley Avenue. Five years later, he added La Ville de Paris to his empire. The Capin family interests continued to grow, and at one time they included Robinson’s True Value, The Americana Motel, and Factory to U clothing.
Manuel Escalada was born in Northern Spain, immigrated to the US at the age of 16, and began his career as a clerk in a mercantile store in Texas. He moved to Nogales where, in 1892, he opened a Nogales grocery and dry goods store in partnership with his brother, Leocadi. Escalada was active in the management of the business until his death. Escalada’s impressive list of civic accomplishments include serving on the City Council for 9 years, working as the Director of the Nogales Building and Loan Association and Director of Chamber of Commerce. He was instrumental in getting the Nogales paving program started. He died in 1927, but his legacy continues with Escalada Plaza, where the family feed store still serves as a meeting place for local ranchers and a brand new shopping center that features a Super Wal-Mart.
Charles Bracker happened onto the Nogales mercantile scene in the 1920s after purchasing an army surplus store which later became the forerunner to Bracker’s Department Store on Morley Avenue. His family expanded his enterprise, building the El Dorado Motel and taking ownership of the historic Bowman Hotel. In addition to the original Bracker’s Department Store and Charlie’s on Morley Avenue, the family also owns Bracker’s Department Store in Green Valley and Charlie Bracker at the Mariposa Mall.
Leonilo Larriva arrived in Nogales in 1915 and soon started a money exchange and import business, selling gold and silver to the US mint in San Francisco and importing coffee, panocha (candy), and animal hides to the United States. Leonilo died young but his cousin; Manuel “Shorty” Martinez came to live with the family and quickly gained a footing in the produce business. In 1944, the family opened Larriva’s Ace Electric Company selling appliances, dry goods, and electronics. Larriva’s Corporation still exists today and is located at Mariposa Plaza at the corner of Grand Avenue and Mariposa Road.
At the age of 48, Theodore Gebler settled in Nogales with his family, opened a hardware store, and eventually served as Director of First National Bank. Since his wife and children preceded him in death and he died without an heir in 1926, he set aside funds in his will for the construction of a building on Grand Avenue to provide for the needy of Santa Cruz County in perpetuity. The trust, known as Associated Charities, is still in existence today. In 2005, the trust dispensed over $40,000 to local non-profit organizations.
In the spirit of Theodore Gebler, Santa Cruz County’s generosity and sense of community supports a wide variety of civic and charitable organizations. There is a locally supported United Way and two Community Foundations. Reading is Fundamental, Rebuilding Together, Boys & Girls Club and Literacy Volunteers all have active affiliates in Santa Cruz County. There are also four Rotary Clubs, a Lions Club, an Elks Club and a Knights of Pythias. The Kiwanis Club has a thrift shop on Grand Avenue that supports its efforts. The Nogales Community Food Bank annually distributes donated fresh produce to food banks throughout the southwest.