Great Value for National City Landlords
Archaic period sites have been found along Sweetwater River which runs through the city limits of modern-day National City. Before the entry of Spanish into the area which modern day National City occupies was part of the territory of the Diegueño tribe, also known as Kamai, and later Kumeyaay. Later in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century there was a Kumeyaay village, north of the modern National City boundaries, on Chollas Creek.
The Spanish named the 26,000 acres (11,000 ha) of land El Rancho del Rey (the Ranch of the King), used by Spanish soldiers to graze horses. After independence from Spain, in 1810, the Mexican government renamed it Rancho de la Nación (Ranch of the Nation). Governor Pío Pico granted Rancho de la Nación to his brother-in-law John (Don Juan) Forster in 1845. President Andrew Johnson, in issuing the land patent, listed the name as simply "The National Ranch", the English translation of the land grant name, "Rancho de la Nacion".
In 1868, Frank Kimball and his brothers Warren and Levi, contractors and builders from San Francisco, purchased the entire rancho and thus began the foundation of the city, retaining the National name.
Frank Kimball first brought novelty and change to the area by building his personal residence. His home included a bathtub as well as hot, running water, making it the first modern house in the entire county. However, it was more than his personal innovative endeavors that allowed the region to flourish. By constructing the first roads and railroad in what is now National City, Frank and his brothers most notably were responsible for introducing modern transportation to the residents of the community. The brothers also implemented the area’s first post office and a wharf for sea-bound imports and exports. These large ventures, coupled with smaller personal missions, both contributed to the overall goal of creating a community unparalleled to the times. A lasting mark of the Kimballs was the trees they imported and planted from Europe and Asia, accomplished via a partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These trees can be found dotted throughout the city to this very day. It was the passion and influence of the Kimballs as well as other early pioneers that made way for the city’s incorporation on September 17, 1887.