Renowned portrait photographer made her home in Colfax

By: Nancy Hagman, Colfax Record correspondent
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A little known persona of Colfax history may yet make a great impact. Grace Hubley was a fine arts photographer in San Francisco in the early 20th century and became a respected and successful portrait artist in Sacramento from 1907 until 1916. Born in Pennsylvania May 7, 1877, she moved to Colfax with her family to join her grandfather on his homestead. She was approximately 7 years old at the time. Hubley attended the first Colfax Grammar School and became a member of the Colfax Library and Debating Society in 1892. Located on the western side of Colfax Hill, her local home was the center of operations of a 160-acre fruit ranch. Homesteaded by her grandfather circa 1883, it was named “Sunset Terrace” by the family. The west-facing and gently sloping site was ideal for apple and pear trees. At one time Colfax was a fruit-shipping principal of America and Hubley's father was vice-president of the local Colfax Fruit Growers Association. The current Colfax High and Colfax Elementary schools are now located on portions of this property. The details of Hubley’s move to San Francisco have yet to be discovered. School in Colfax only went to the eighth grade in those days. After completion, most teenagers in this regionwent to work in the fields, for the railroad company or with merchants in the area. Some fortunate enough or bright enough were sent away to further their education. The Hubleys had family in the Bay Area, so it may be how she situated in San Francisco. In that era, the relatively new endeavor of photography as a profession, likened to typing, was a completely acceptable pursuit for young women. As an amateur and later a professional, Hubley exhibited her photographs in many art shows. It is known she had a studio in San Francisco but lost all her work during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Fayette J. Clute, editor of the magazine “Camera Craft,” reported at the time: "Grace Hubley, and a number who have been prominent in both local and Eastern exhibitions, saved little or nothing from the flames." Her budding career in photography was all but destroyed. Solid in her dedication to her art, she enrolled in San Francisco's Artist School of Photography in 1907. Afterward, Hubley moved to Sacramento and started a new studio and portrait photography business. Clearly a popular and talented artisan, she attracted as customers some of the most prominent Sacramento families of the period, such as McClatchy, Breuner and Carmichael. During that period she was listed among the best women photographers on the west coast by “Camera Craft.” In 1916, at the age of 39, she married Frank R. Jones in St. Peter's Episcopal Church in San Francisco. Jones, a railroad man and also from Colfax, worked as a dispatcher for Southern Pacific Railroad at the Sacramento yard. Grace Hubley-Jones closed her Sacramento portrait studio. In 1918, Hubley’s mother, Catherine Hubley, sold Hubley-Jones the Hubley House and its accompanying 80 acres, located on Ben Taylor Road, for $5. Her mother passed away the following year. With her husband, Hubley-Jones moved to Colfax full-time upon his retirement from Southern Pacific in 1938. Frank Jones passed away in 1946 and Hubley-Jones continued to live at her Ben Taylor Road home