Ponce de Leon was a sailor and explorer for Spain. He had been given governorship of Hispaniola where he soon discovered that on Puerto Rico gold was found. He soon conquered the island and was given governorship of it. From the gold he became very wealthy.
He soon learned of an Indian tale of an island called Bimini. On the Island There were supposedly lots if gold and pearls and a mystical fountain that could restore ones youth. Ponce de Leon asked for and received permission to conquer and settle in the island of Bimini. On March 3, 1513 he sailed from Puerto Rico with three ships. Sailing around the northwest corner of Cuba, he then looked for Bimini among the Bahaman Islands. Finally, on Easter Sunday, March 13, he landed on the coast near present day St.
Augustine. He called the land Pascua Florida. After searching a few days for gold, pearls, and that elusive fountain, and finding none of them, he turned south. Along the southeast coast of Florida near the Indian River, they met the Ais Indians. The Ais called out to Ponce de Leon, so he went ashore.
They then tried to take the boat from the Spanish. In the ensuing fight, an Indian clubbed a Spaniard on the head, resulting in an all day battle between the two. From a captured Indian, they learned that the land was called Caution by the Ais. Incidentally, the Bahaman Indians called the land, Can ico or Can cio. From there, the expedition sailed south around the Florida keys, and up the west coast of Florida to an area near the present-day Sanibel Island. There they battle with the Calusa Indians, led by their chief, Cacique Carlos.
Again, there was an all day fight, which led to the Spaniards retreat. Turning southward across the Gulf of Mexico, the explorers came across a group of islands where they replenished their food supply wit the turtles on the islands. They named them Tortugas, after the turtles. From there, they returned to Cuba, then back to the Bahamas, then Puerto Rico, seven months later. The King of Spain knighted Ponce de Leon and made him governor of Florida. He also commanded him to settle the island and subdue the Carib Indians, who were raiding the natives of Puerto Rico.
The Caribs were known for their maritime abilities, crossing the Caribbean in huge canoes with as many as 50 people in them. Their fierce fighting ability kept Ponce de Leon from returning to Florida until 1521. Ponce de Leon left Santa Domingo with two ships carrying two hundred colonist and all kinds of domestic animals. They landed on the west coast of Florida near Charlotte Harbor, where the Calusa had driven them off before.
Before they could erect buildings, they were attacked, and Ponce de Leon wounded with a poison arrow. The colonists got into their ships and left- one ship was blown to the coast of Mexico; the other, with Ponce de Leon, reached Cuba where he died of his wound.