Juan Ponce de Leon by Jane Sutcliffe
Juan Ponce de León
He gave Florida its name and went on to become the first governor of Puerto Rico. He served as a page at the court of Aragon, where he learned social skills, religion and military tactics. He eventually became a soldier and fought against the the Moors in Granada. His efforts paid off and he prospered well, selling produce and livestock to Spanish ships returning home. On a return trip to Spain around this time, he married a woman named Leonora, with whom he would eventually have three children. Some accounts speculate his ambitions may have led him to unofficially explore the area two years earlier.
Though little is known about his family, he was of noble birth and served in the Spanish military from a young age. He first came to the Americas as a "gentlemen volunteer" with Christopher Columbus ' second expedition in He was authorized to explore the neighboring island of Puerto Rico in and was named the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish crown in He landed somewhere along Florida's east coast, then charted the Atlantic coast down to the Florida Keys and north along the Gulf coast, perhaps as far as Charlotte Harbor. Though in popular culture he was supposedly searching for the Fountain of Youth , there is no contemporary evidence to support the story, which all modern historians call a myth. He would not return to Puerto Rico for two years.
Juan Ponce de Leon was an explorer and conquistador who had sailed with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the new world, and is credited with being the first European to land in Florida. He was also responsible for setting up the first settlement on Puerto Rico. This page details facts about Juan Ponce de Leon's life and the events that shaped his history. As a reward for his success, Juan Ponce de Leon was made Provincial Governor of the eastern side of Hispaniola, which was known as Higuey. With this position he was granted a substantial amount of land with enough Indian slaves to farm it. In Juan Ponce de Leon founded the town of Salvaleon in Huguey, before turning his attention to Puerto Rico where he had heard that there was a lot of gold to be found. It was around this time that he married Leonora, with whom he had three daughters and a son.