Juan Ponce de Leon was born into a noble Spanish family in Santervas, Spain in the year of 1460. He was the first European to reach Florida. He claimed Florida for Spain, established the oldest settlement made by Europeans in Puerto Rico and made the discovery of the Gulf Stream. Ponce de Leon was searching for Bimini, the Fountain of Youth, and several other riches to bring glory to Spain.
Ponce de Leon sailed on the second trip Christopher Columbus made to the Americas in 1493. But instead of returning to Spain, he remained in Santo Domingo. He became a soldier in a colony located on the island of Hispaniola. For two years, from 1502-1504, he led the Spanish army in a fight against the eastern province of Hispaniola. He was appointed governor of the Dominican province of Higuey for this service. Ponce de Leon then conquered the neighboring island that is now Puerto Rico. He was appointed governor of this island as well, but was removed because of his cruelty to Native Americans.
With three ships—the Santa Maria, Santiago, and San Cristobal—and two hundred men, Ponce de Leon then sailed out to find Bimini and the Fountain of Youth. He set off on the third of March in the year 1513. One month later, they reached the east coast of Florida. Ponce de Leon named the land "Pascua de Florida" which is how we got the name Florida.
Ponce de Leon set out to find Bimini again on April 8. They headed south of the Gulf Stream to Cuba then north. Instead of finding Bimini, they found Andros Island.
When he returned to Puerto Rico, Ponce de Leon began fighting with the Native Americans to quell their rebellions against Spanish rule. He returned to Spain where he was then named a Captain General by the king of September 27, 1514. He then resumed his search for Bimini and went back to Puerto Rico.
Ponce de Leon's last attempt at finding Bimini and the Fountain of Youth was in 1521. His crew landed with 200 soldiers on the west coast of Florida. Upon landing, they were attacked by Native American warriors. Juan Ponce de Leon died from an arrow wound received in that fight at Havana, Cuba in the month of July.Back to Fountain of Youth.