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Juan Ponce de Leon was born in 1460 in Spain. He fought forSpain in the battle which defeated the Moors of Granada as a teenager.In 1493 he traveled to the Americas with Christopher Columbus on hissecond, less famous, voyage to the New world.’ He fought in a battleon the island of Hispaniola against revolutionaries against Spain. His bravery in that battle was rewarded by King Ferdinand II of Spain. The reward for his role in the Spanish victory was a commission to explorethe island of Puerto Rico, then known as Borinquen. Ponce de Leon servedas governor of the island from 1509 until 1512 when King Ferdinand gavehim a new project, to find and settle the island of Bimini.* He assembled three ships and set off to find Bimini be he found the coast of what we now

call Florida and the modern-day city of St. Augustine. This discovery was made in the spring of 1513 he named the southern peninsula Florida becauseof the upcoming holiday of Pascua Florida and the abundance of flowers in the area. During his brief stay in the Florida, according to legend, hesearched to no avail for the fountain of youth. After discovering Floridahe traveled west into the keys of Florida and eventually he went back toPuerto Rico after a stop in Cuba. In light of his success in Puerto Rico, Ponce de Leon received a grant from the Spanish royalty to colonize Floridain 1514. He did not take on this task of colonizing Florida for seven moreyears until 1521. Shortly after returning to Florida he was shot by andarrow and died not before long back in Havana at the age of 61.

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