Juan Ponce de Leon

by Matthew S

A Rewarding Start That Would Make History

Ponce de Leon was born in 1460 at San Vertas de Campos in Spain. He played many roles in his early years, before supposedly searching for the Fountain of Youth. The first role that he acquired was as a page in the Royal Court of Aragon. He later became a soldier, and fought in the Spanish campaign in Granada. Later on, in 1493, Ponce de Leon went along in Christopher Columbus’s second voyage to the West Indies. About 10 years afterwards, he became a captain of a force commanded by a man named Nicolas de Ovando, who was Spain’s royal governor of Hispaniola. Hispaniola is now known as Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Finally, later in Ponce's life, Ovando rewarded him to be governor a small area in Hispaniola’s eastern side of Hispaniola. He had much success in Hispaniola, as he started farms and defenses for Spain to become an island company, as well as send Spain livestock and produce.

The Adventure into Puerto Rico

A few years later in 1508, Spanish royalty sent Ponce de Leon to explore Puerto Rico due to the occurence of finding gold. Ponce de Leon took 50 sailors and just one ship on his expedition. He and his crew finally settled near present-day San Juan. He conquered the island, but also found something much greater; gold.

Fact or Fiction?

The Fountain of Youth is probably what Ponce de Leon is most famous for looking for. But could this magical anti-aging fountain really exist? The story goes that Ponce de Leon might have heard rumors and stories about the fountain. It was known to be on a small island called Bimini, which lay north of Cuba. In fact, Ponce de Leon probably wasn't even searching for the fountain when he went on his expedition to Florida! Most likely, he went to Florida to collect gold and many different resources for Spain. Not to mention, no document talks about a fountain, not even Ponce's letters! In the end, it is thought that Spanish writers might have written up the story to make him look easily persuaded. So the final outcome, is that probably neither the exploration or the fountain really existed.

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Ponce de Leon