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Juan Ponce De Leon Juan Ponce De Leon was born 1474 in Tervas de San Campos,Spain. He served as a page for a powerful lord. Schooled in warfare from an early age, he took part in many campaigns waged by the Spaniards to expel the Moors. In 1493, at the age of 19, he volunteered to accompany Columbus on his second voyage to the New World. They sailed through the island chain of the Lesser Antilles. Ponce spent the next few years as a soldier and distinguished himself for bravery. He also acted as second in command in a battle in Hispaniola against the natives. As a reward he was appointed commander of the province. Hearing tales about gold found on a neighboring island, he was attracted by the possibility of becoming rich. In 1506 he landed on Borinquen on a peaceful scouting mission. Ponce and his crew were met and cordially greeted by the principal cacique, Aguaybana. When asked about the treasures of the island, Ponce was shown to grooves of flouring trees bursting with fruit and streams running clean with cool water. Not wanting the riches of nature, Ponce demanded whether the island produced any gold. He was then taken to two inland rivers where the gold shone through the pebbles. After receiving permission from the King of Spain, he conquered Borinquen and became governor in 1509. The natives, not accepting the Spaniards as masters, organized an island-wide rebellion. Under attack Ponce displayed his competence and skills as a military leader. His men surprised the natives' stronghold and killed their chief. One of the many weapons used by the Spaniards to attack were dogs. Ponce's own dog, Berezillo, could distinguish between hostile or friendly natives. Berezillo was known throughout the Caribbean for his ferocity, courage, and strength. He was killed by a poison arrow while swimming in pursuit of a Carib Indian in the sea. Ponce resigned as governor in 1512 and made a fortune dealing in gold, slaves, and land. Soon he heard rumors of a river on a large northern island that restored youth. Ponce received permission from the King of Spain to conquer Bimini. He outfitted three ships. On April 3 he landed at an inlet about 50 miles south of St. Augustine. The spring they discovered there had flowers blooming all around, thus Ponce named the land La Florida, which means full of flowers. With this landing in Florida, Ponce became the first Spaniard to touch the shores of what is today the United States. Unfortunately no magical river was ever found, no gold discovered, and on top of that the natives were extremely unfriendly. Ponce decided to explore further. Off the coast of Florida, he discovered the Gulf Stream, which drove his ships back, even with favorable wind behind them. They decided to sail south along the coast passing Cape Canaveral, Palm Bay, and Key West. He turned at the cape of Florida and sailed north until halfway up the west coast, near Charlotte Harbor. When he stopped to replenish supplies, his crew encountered more hostile natives. They then discovered that none of the natives had heard of a magical stream and that it probably didn't exist at all. In June, Ponce started back, disappointed that he had not found the alleged fountain of youth. He gave up his search and returned to Puerto Rico in October. Then, he went back to Spain to report to the king. As presents, he brought gold and news of the discovery of Florida. In return he was named adelantado of Bimini and Florida. He was then commanded to eliminate the Carib Indians, who were interferi

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