La Vista Cemetery  :  “The Silent City”

Come see our historical archives and enhance your knowledge of the history of National City, where San Diego County began in 1868 – The place we now call National City.


RANCHO DE LA NACION: Founded by the Frank Kimball Family in 1868.


Born in New Hampshire, 1860



Kimball Estate


Kimball’s Generosity

More than a century ago, on a cold and foggy morning, the early settlers of Rancho De La Nacion (now known as National City) quietly turned spades on earth on a hill above their lands.

The first families – the Kimballs, the Copelands, and the Dickinsons – gathered to bury Mrs. Francis Wicapaw of Philadelphia or, as she was commonly known “The Little Mother.” Mrs. Wicapaw was the first of the group to succumb to the rigors of pioneer life.

To bury Mrs. Wicapaw, Frank Kimball chose 30 acres on a peaceful hillside with a sweeping view from Otay to Point Loma. It became the settlement’s “Silent City on the Hill” and remains so today.

Seven years after Mrs. Wicapaw’s burial in 1870, Kimball’s music-loving wife, Sarah planted eucalyptus trees in the shape of a grand piano around the top eight acres of the “Silent City on the Hill” and it became Silver Gate Cemetery.

Sarah Kimball’s eucalyptus trees are still there, and towering now, encircling a hundred pioneer graves, including her own. Today, the Kimballs, Copelands, Dickenson’s and many more pioneers have scattered graves amid wild flowers in the oldest part of the cemetery. The graves mark the history not only National City, but of San Diego County as well.

Over the years Silver Gate Cemetery became La Vista Memorial Park. When La Vista was born, a ravine running through the middle of the cemetery was transformed into a pool filled with water from the park’s own well. A monument to the Armed Forces rises from the center.  An annual grand Memorial Day celebration – free to the public – is held by the fountain each year.

La Vista’s Historical Archive


National City’s Historical Society’s Vice-President, “Lady” Marilyn Zubov, along with President Janice Martinelli and “Lady” Margaret Puhn, have helped create a Hallway Walk in Time in La Vista’s  main building, a bow to the San Diego area’s early history and a measure of our respect for those who came before us.

Some of that “living history” include the 30 Civil War graves in the park: the history of the “Grand Army of the Republic,” the archives of both the Union and Confederate Soldiers; and in-depth information on National City’s founders.


There is a city map from 1912 showing all property lines and written in names of the ownership of each parcel.  Do you have any ancestors you would like to look up? Maybe you can find them listed on our map or in our original cemetery records.

Frank A. Kimball House Tour
The historic Frank A. Kimball House is listed on the National City Historic Site List.

It stands as a visible symbol of the life and legacy of Frank and Sarah Kimball who devoted their lives to the building and betterment of National City and its people.

The National City Historical Society and the City of National City welcome you.


For tour information, please contact:

Janice Martinelli
(619) 474-8905

Frank A. Kimball House
923 A Avenue
National City, CA 91950

Hours:  Saturday and Sunday
11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.