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Juan Ponce De Leon

Juan Ponce De Leon

b. 1460 Leon, Spain d. 1521 Cuba

 

The object of Ponce de Leon's quest was even harder to get than the riches (objects worth a great deal) of distant lands other explores were after. He was searching for the Fountain of Eternal Youth.
 
Ponce de Leon sailed with Columbus on his second expedition to the New World in 1493, took part in the voyage to present day Hispaniola in 1502, and in 1508 commanded an expedition to Puerto Rico. It was while serving as governor there that he heard the story, that had been told over and over in the Spanish colonies, about an island to the west where a certain spring of water kept all those who bathed in it  young forever.
 
With the tale firing his imagination, he set out in search of this source of water in April, 1513. On Easter Sunday he reached the shore of what he took to be the island of Bimini. The place was a true Eden, with a thick green forest washed in beautiful light, brilliantly colored birds all sweetly singing, and the delicate fragrance of blossoms floating out to the ships. Mindful of the Easter holiday (pascua florida) or simply impressed by the  flowers, Ponce gave the name Florida to his discovery. Several days later he landed near what is now St. Augustine, planted the Spanish flag, and claimed the region for his king. He then traveled up and down the snake like coast of the peninsula, bathing in its waters and making a point of inspecting his skin every few minutes for the longed-for signs of his youth renewed. Sadly, finding none, he gave up his search and sailed back to Puerto Rico.
 
Having reported on his explorations in Florida, Ponce now found himself under orders to colonize it. Yet he waited to sail back there, with two ship loads of settlers, until 1521.
 
They were all attacked by Indians, and Ponce was gravely wounded. He was taken to Cuba, where, not long afterward, he died. His body was buried in Puerto Rico, in the cathedral at San Juan, a city he had helped to found.
 
He had not died young.
 
 
Below are some sites and links for more information on Juan Ponce de Leon. 
 

PONCE DE LEON

Ponce de Leon

All about Ponce de Leon

Ponce de Leon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This site was last updated 08/04/2004 08:08 PM -0400